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]: 2009


The Child Thief: A bold run at Peter Pan

The Child Thief by Gerald Brom

The Child Thief is one in a long line of novels, graphic novels, films, and cartoons concerned with giving “gritty retellings” of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, or to give that book its original name and set it apart from the play, Peter and Wendy. The phenomenon of taking an innocent old classic and muddying it up is and has been fairly widespread, but Peter and Wendy is particularly popular because it was arguably gritty enough from the start,

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Agincourt: Skirts the line between historical fiction and fantasy

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell

[In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]

Often there is a fine line between historical fiction and fantasy. In the case of Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell, the line is especially blurry. Of course, there is no magic or elves or dragons.

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Blueberry Girl: A blessing for little girls

Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess have paired up again to produce the breathtaking Blueberry Girl, a fantastical blessing poem or lullaby that Gaiman wrote for his two daughters.

Invoking “Ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind,” Gaiman prays for blessings to be bestowed on his blueberry girl. Reminiscent of fairy godmothers — Gaiman’s prayer for protection and spindles makes that allusion even stronger — the author lists off his wishes for his daughters to be bestowed by the ladies who take different forms throughout the story in Vess’s enchanting drawings.

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We Never Talk About My Brother: Add it to your library

We Never Talk About My Brother by Peter S. Beagle

We Never Talk About My Brother, published by the small but estimable Tachyon Press, is a collection of ten of Peter S. Beagle’s recent stories. Eight were previously published from 2007 through 2009, demonstrating that Beagle has been as productive in his late 60s as he was at the age of 19, when he wrote A Fine and Private Place. Certainly his late work shows a mature intellect and imagination,

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Mr. Shivers: Bennett is masterful at creating atmosphere

Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett

Depression-era America in the Dust Bowl must have seemed like living through the apocalypse. The very earth was drying up and blowing away. Nothing would grow and the rain never came. There was no food, families were disintegrating, and death stalked the land. This is the setting for Mr. Shivers, a first novel by Robert Jackson Bennett.

Upon reading the first several chapters of Mr. Shivers, one forms a mental image of the author: old and craggy,

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The Hotel Under the Sand: You’re not too grown up for this

The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker

Kage Baker left us on January 31, 2010, at the much-too-young age of 57. Those of us who read and loved her Company novels and short stories, beginning with In the Garden of Iden, will miss her more than we can collectively say — though many of us tried, in those last few weeks, to tell her what her work had meant to us.

Nominated for the 2009 Andre Norton Award for Young Science Fiction and Fantasy,

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Book of Secrets: Roberson is a great storyteller

Book of Secrets by Chris Roberson

Spencer Finch is an investigative journalist who is researching billionaire J. Nathan Pierce for one of his stories. In the course of his research, he discovers that a mysterious book was recently stolen from Pierce, and it’s this book that will lead Finch on a fascinating and unlikely journey with far-reaching implications. Early on in the story, Finch also receives his recently deceased grandfather’s inheritance: a box full of stories and other texts. These gradually add a whole new dimension to both his grandfather’s legacy and the secret,

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Fire: Five enjoyable stories by McKinley & Dickinson

Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits by Robin McKinley & Peter Dickinson

Let me start by saying I’ve never been much for short stories. It’s not that they can’t be well done, and I admit that it takes a huge talent to do them well, but I usually find myself frustrated and wanting more. Probably because I am used to reading full-length novels. That being said, I enjoyed reading Fire. There are five stories, two by Robin McKinley and three by Peter Dickinson.

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Amortals: One helluva sci-fi thriller

Amortals by Matt Forbeck

It’s year 2168, and Secret Service agent Ronan Dooley is investigating a savage homicide, of which he happens to be the victim. In fact, this is the eighth time Agent Dooley has died in the service of his country.

Several of Ronan’s lifetimes ago, he took a bullet meant for the president. His heroic death won him the honor of becoming the first participant in Project Amortal: a medical procedure where the deceased’s mind and memories are downloaded into the brain of an exact clone. The project was initially intended for heads-of-state or those whose public service had proven exceptional,

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No Such Thing as Dragons: Tweens will certainly enjoy

No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve

No Such Thing as Dragons, by Philip Reeve, is aimed at a somewhat younger group than his excellent Mortal Engines series, though it has moments that might be a bit beyond that younger target audience.

Set in a medieval time period, No Such Thing as Dragons follows a young mute boy named Ansel who is sold by his father to Brock, the famed itinerant dragon-slayer. As Ansel soon learns,

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Recent Discussion:

  1. COMMENT Experiencing this book, of all books, in an audio format would indeed be interesting! I can only imagine, Olle....

  2. I recently listened to the Libravox audiobook version of this one and completely agree with your assessment. The strange language…

  3. I wish the media organizations publishing Best Of lists would commit to not including any works appreciably less than twenty…

June 2023