Hellboy (Vol. 1): Seed of Destruction: Atmospheric and beautiful

Hellboy Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola & John Byrne (An Oxford College Student Review!)

In this column, I feature comic book reviews written by my students at Oxford College of Emory University. Oxford College is a small liberal arts school just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I challenge students to read and interpret comics because I believe sequential art and visual literacy are essential parts of education at any level (see my Manifesto!). I post the best of my students’ reviews in this column. Today, I am proud to present a review by Carter Eldreth: 

Carter Eldreth is a freshman at Oxford College of Emory University and is pursuing a degree in literature with the intent to go to law school. His home is Bristol, Tennessee, and his hobbies include reading, writing... Read More

The Sandman Mystery Theatre Book One by Matt Wagner

The Sandman Mystery Theatre Book One by Matt Wagner

The Sandman Mystery Theatre is a near-perfect noir comic book series written in the 1990s by Matt Wagner, though the stories are set in the late 1930s. In some ways, Wagner is making a return to the older, original Sandman character created in 1939 (who also went by the name of Wesley Dodds), but the Sandman has had various incarnations since then, including Kirby’s in the 1970s. And of course, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is the most famous of them all, but he simply took the name and completely reinvented the character as an immortal entity, also known as Morpheus and Dream. Wagner takes us back to the physical world, grounds us in reality, and writes the most ... Read More

Parable of the Sower: A new religion born from societal collapse

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Parable of the Sower (1993) is the first book in Octavia Butler’s PARABLE (EARTHSEED) series. It is one of her most well-regarded novels, along with Kindred (1979) and Wild Seed (1980), and depicts a near-future United States that has collapsed due to environmental catastrophe into roving bands of thieves, drug addicts, rapists, murderers, scavengers, corporate towns that impose wage slavery, and gated communities protected by armed guards that strive to survive amidst the chaos.

It is an unforgiving world in which the strong, violent, and ruthless dominate the weak and powerless. The story centers around Lauren Olamina, a 17-year old girl born to a Black Baptist preacher and Hispanic mother. Due to drugs he... Read More

The Giver: Good story, important questions

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I was first introduced to this book by students in my Ancient Political Theory class while discussing Plato’s Republic. “This is like The Giver!” I had never read the book, so I picked it up and found that, indeed, there are many similarities. The Giver by Lois Lowry is set in a utopian future society where all individuality has been suppressed and people live lives planned by a central council of Elders who dictate who will marry, who has children, what jobs people have, and every aspect of life, from clothing and hair styles to food eaten and recreational activities allowed. The central character of the story is Jonas, a young boy about to become a Twelve, at which point he will be given the assignment of his career for the rest of his life. At that ceremony, when the rest of his classmates are assigned to be doctors or engineers or fish hatcher... Read More

On Basilisk Station: Honor Harrington is the biggest Mary Sue in space

On Basilisk Station by David Weber

Honor Harrington, newly-promoted Captain in the Queen’s Royal Manticoran Navy, has taken command of her first space cruiser, Fearless. Sadly, she and her crew have been deployed to Basilisk Station, a low-status drudge assignment that mostly involves checking cargoes for contraband. Morale aboard Fearless is low, but things are about to change. Unbeknownst to Manticore, The Republic of Haven, which hopes to better its economy by conquering resource-wealthy planets, plans to invade Manticore by way of the wormhole junction terminus at Basilisk Station. Can Honor and her crew uncover the plot and save Manticore?

David Weber’s On Basilisk Station is classic space opera loaded with lots of exposition about military tactics, weaponry, hyperspace, calculation of acceleration rates, etc., etc. This isn’t my favorite genre of science fiction, but I was ho... Read More

The Boggart: Spritely, loveable, intriguing figure of Scottish legend

The Boggart by Susan Cooper

Susan Cooper is best known for her five-part The Dark is Rising series, a sequence of fantasy novels that any self-respecting lover of fantasy should have on their bookshelf. Among her lesser known works is the time-slip adventure King of Shadows, a picture book trilogy based on Celtic legends, and two stories chronicling the doings of a Scottish boggart: The Boggart and its sequel The Boggart and the Monster.

In the Western Highlands of Scotland lives a mysterious and mischievous spirit known as a boggart. Living at the ancient Castle Keep (but often moving about the countryside), the creature of Wild Magic delights in the confusion and amusement that its daily tricks create. But when the elderly Duncan MacDevon dies in his sleep, the inheritance of the castle ... Read More

Masques: Patricia Briggs’ debut novel

Masques by Patricia Briggs

Aralorn, a short, plain, and outspoken young lady who always hated to “sit and sew” in her father’s court, works as a mercenary and spy. She’s not particularly good with the sword (the staff is her weapon of choice), but her shapeshifting ability is a pretty useful skill. She’s sometimes aided by the wolf she saved a few years ago. He comes and goes and Aralorn knows that he’s more than he seems. When the evil mage Jeffrey starts planning world domination, Aralorn and Wolf plan to stop him.

Masques kept me entertained for 9 hours and 48 minutes (I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version). Though there’s nothing new in Patricia Briggs’ debut novel, and not much that surprised or inspired me, it was pleasantly diverting. Masques is definitely predictable in places and it relies on a few too many convenient occurrences as well as several t... Read More

Finders Keepers: Pern with cats

Finders Keepers by Gayle Greeno

Finders Seekersis the first book in Gayle Greeno’s Ghatti’s Tale series. The Ghattis are large telepathic catlike creatures who lifebond with humans. Together, the two serve as a truthseeker team, sifting through the thoughts of people involved in civil and criminal disputes. When someone starts killing the Ghattis and their human companions, the Ghatti Khar and her bondmate Doyce set out to unlock the secret behind the deaths, and attempt to hold the world of Methuen together.

One of the goals we have at FanLit is to get a review up for every author in our database. When I saw that we didn’t have a review up for Gayle Greeno, I decided to reread Finders Seekers, a book that I had remembered enjoying when I was in my teens. I would have given it 3 stars back then. Howeve... Read More

The Curse of the Mistwraith: Astounding depth

The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts

The Curse of the Mistwraith took me completely by surprise. Based on (obviously mistaken) assumptions, I expected something completely different — epic fantasy, yes, but nothing even close to the gorgeous prose and astounding depth I found in this novel.

The plot of this story is hard to summarize, partly because there are so many twists and turns that it's almost impossible not to run into spoiler territory very quickly. Two half-brothers, Arithon and Lysaer, are on opposite sides of a conflict that spans generations. As they become involved in the struggle against the Mistwraith that keeps the world of Athera in a stranglehold, the reader quickly realizes that the half-brothers' conflict doesn't just go back generations, but literally ages.

The Curse of the Mistwraith is old-fashioned, in a good way: rather than the st... Read More

The Iron Dragon’s Daughter: I could have enjoyed this book…if I was on acid

The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick

Some people don't like to admit that they didn't "get" a book, but I'm secure enough with myself to say that I didn't get this one.

The Iron Dragon's Daughter started off well. Jane is a human changeling who works in a Faerie factory that makes flying iron dragons for weapons. Jane and the other child slave laborers (who are a mix of strange creatures) are entertaining and bring to mind Lord of the Flies and that scene in Sid's room from Pixar's Toy Story. Michael Swanwick's writing style is fluid and faultless.

There are flashes of Valente-esque creativity: a timeclock with a temper, a meryon (whatever that is) civilization similar to that in A Bug's Life, a ... Read More