Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 2008


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Ever: Humdrum

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Gail Carson Levine is best known for her retellings of traditional fairytales, (most famously Ella Enchanted) but here she draws on a mythological setting for her inspiration. Despite the fairytale-ish title, Ever takes place in an imaginary world that bears a resemblance to Greek or Middle-Eastern culture, particularly in regard to its climate, customs, clothing and food.

Kezi is a girl nearing her sixteenth birthday, living the simple life with her beloved mother and father,


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The Bell at Sealey Head: Perfect introduction to McKillip

The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia McKillip

Patricia McKillip’s latest novel takes us to the little fishing village of Sealey Head; tiny and inconsequential, and dominated by four influential families: the Cauleys (father and son innkeepers), the Blairs (a large family of merchants), the Sproules (rich farmers who have gained some degree of nobility) and the Aislinns (living in the crumbling manor house). Actually, there’s only one Aislinn now: old Lady Eglantyne, who lies dreaming in her bedchamber, waited on by a host of servants. The extensive cast of characters have interconnecting friendships,


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Black Pearls: A Faerie Strand: Lovely as petal, sharp as thorn

Black Pearls by Louise Hawes

Once upon a time, there was a woman who was so caught up in a book that she did nothing all day but read it, from cover to cover.

Black Pearls: A Faerie Strand is a gem. Louise Hawes‘ dark, sensual fairy tale retellings and Rebecca Guay‘s evocative illustrations work perfectly together to form one of the best books of retold tales that I’ve ever read. I checked this out from the library, but I’ve resolved that I simply must have a copy of my own to treasure.


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Tales from the Perilous Realm: Glimpses and Echoes of LOTR

Tales from the Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien

There is a passage in one of the stories collected here that accurately sums up the content of the book itself. In “Leaf By Niggle,” J.R.R. Tolkien describes a painting that the artist Niggle has been working on:

It had begun with a leaf caught in the wind, and it became a tree; and the tree grew, sending out innumerable branches, and thrusting out the most fantastic roots… Niggle lost interest in his other pictures; or else he took them and tacked them on to the edges of his great picture.


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The Magician and the Fool: A post-modern fever dream

The Magician and the Fool by Barth Anderson

Jeremiah Rosemont is a far-fallen academic star, an art historian with specialized knowledge of — and uncanny experience with — tarot decks. Having exiled himself from the United States, he finds his wanderings through Nicaragua interrupted one night by the mysterious delivery of a plane ticket to Rome. There, he stumbles into a maelstrom of occult forces and figures gathering around a deck of uncertain origin and powers. Another figure with links to the deck is the Boy King, a vagrant in Minneapolis with strange and formidable talents. 


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Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow: Not too deep

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is an ultimately frustrating retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” a Norse fairytale about a girl (who is never referred to by name) and an enchanted white bear. It just happens to be one of my favorite fairy tales. Jessica Day George stays very true to the original story, while judiciously adding details to fill out the sparseness of the tale. She gives us a reason that the girl in the story has no name,


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Ice Land: Neither great characters nor compelling plot

Ice Land by Betsy Tobin

“This book is my love letter to Iceland and its people,” writes Betsy Tobin in her afterword to Ice Land. And so it is. Tobin is at her best when describing the landscape of Iceland:

The day we met, I had flown deep into the central highlands, seeking a spot where I could be alone. I found it on a high desert plateau, where a hidden spring had forced its way up through the lava shield,


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Pretty Monsters: A pretty good collection

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Pretty Monsters is Kelly Link’s latest short story collection aimed at young adults. My young adult phase passed a long time ago but I found this book to be as deep and packed as Link’s Magic for Beginners and Stranger Things Happen.

The first thing that caught my eye is the overall aesthetic of the book. The jacket, designed by Will Staeble, is upbeat and eye-catching, whether it’s simply the presentation of the blurbs or the text on the cover flap.


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Mad Kestrel: Unoriginal, but fun

Mad Kestrel by Misty Massey

Kestrel is a Promise, a child born with magical abilities, and as such, she should have been turned over to the Danisobans, terrifying wizards who control all magic on the Nine Islands. Instead, her parents died saving her from the magic wielders, and Kestrel has spent her entire life running from the magic she fears. Fortunately for her, Danisoban abilities are neutralized by salt water, so she takes to the seas and a life of piracy. When her captain is lead into a trap by the rogue McAvery,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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