The Day Two prompt for Wyrd & Wonder is Favourite Read since last Wyrd & Wonder.
Now, since I have a problem with shutting up, you’ve heard a *lot* about these books. So I’m going to give you my Favourite Thing about each of the following books – five from 2022, five from 2023.
The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold
Favourite Thing: The Spirits of the Dead – The dead have power in Bujold’s fantasy debut, power that can be used for good and ill. Not only is it fascinating to see said spirits getting to interact with the world of the living, they also drive the furiously grandiose and moving scenes of the book’s climax
Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia Evans
Favourite Thing: The humour and prose – I’m not someone who raves around prose very often but Evans put on a masterclass in terms of lucid, gripping, and innately smile-worthy prose. I’m reasonably sure she could write a shopping list I’d pay to read. I was going to go with the dynamic of Siyon, Zagiri, and Anahid, then I remembered all the lines I was so struck by it had to be that.
The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers
Favourite Thing: Magical Beer – I am a simple man with si… okay, fine, my pleasures probably aren’t simple, but a magical beer is an excellent fantastical conceit. Tim Powers consistently has some of the best ideas in town.
A Pale Box on the Distant Shore by PJ Nwosu
Favourite Thing: The Setting – This little dark fantasy mystery novella featured an utterly compelling world, a mix of hothouse social dynamics, red of tooth and claw, and bronze age aesthetics. I’ve been neglectful about rereading the follow up, but I assuredly will.
The Pastel City by M John Harrison
Favourite Thing: The Sheer Unhinged Weirdness – I really cannot make my case better than this. It’s not the baroque and angular language, it’s not the baroque mix of Dying Earth and Sword & Sorcery and Post-Apocalyptic powering the setting, it’s not the baroque images of man vs giant killer robots, it’s not even the chance to overuse the word baroque like you’re at a Caravaggio exhibition at Versailles with Handel blaring in the background. It’s just all of that together. And to think Harrison only got even weirder than that.
The Dreamstone by CJ Cherryh
Favourite Thing: The Atmosphere – Maybe this isn’t how it would have been to live in the Iron Age and encounter the Sidhe hiding in the woods. In fact, probably not. But Cherryh utterly persuades me that maybe it could have been, and that it would have been grand and glorious to see it, in all its beauty and squalor alike.
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
Favourite Thing: The Book – Sometimes I can’t narrow it down to one thing and you can’t make me. I would do anything to anyone to have Kay’s skill as a writer, except make myself practice as much as needed.
The Fisherman by John Langan
Favourite Thing: The Horror Locales – The slow build-up and mundanity of this book eventually gives way to underground cities, cursed items, and whacked out temples where people are using giant cattle heads as bait for the mother of all catches. Truly, utterly captivating images in my head.
Death’s Master by Tanith Lee
Favourite Thing: The Ending – Some books will be a little up and down but really bring it together at the end. This is one of them. Lee’s multi-generational faux-myth can dip at times but she takes all those threads and delivers a fantastic resolution to all of these cursed-blessed figures’ obsessions and struggles.
The Art of Prophecy by Wesley Chu
Favourite Thing: Taishi – I love a good middle-aged cynical romantic of a protagonist who still carries the fire of their convictions even after taking a battering. I really love it if they muse humourously on that in their mind. Well, Taishi, the central figure of this book, does that in spades. Absolutely carries this humdinger of a story.
Read any of these? Want to? Have your favourite things about them? Tell me below!
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