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Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Nina Kiriki Hoffman(1955- )
Nina Kiriki Hoffman is an American fantasy, science fiction and horror writer. She started publishing short stories in 1975, her first nationally published short story appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine in 1985 and has since published over 200 in various anthologies and magazines. She lives in Eugene, Oregon with her cats. She is a member of the Wordos writers’ group.

A Fistful of Sky: Too mature for YA, too shallow for adults

A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

A Fistful of Sky is the story of Gypsum LaZelle, who comes from a magical family. Each child goes through transition in their early teens and receives the ability to do magic. However, Gypsum doesn’t go through transition. After several years of adjusting to her life as the mundane member of her family, she unexpectedly goes through transition, and receives the power of cursing. The only magic she can do is to perform curses, and if she doesn’t use her power regularly, it turns inward and attacks her own body.

A Fistful of Sky is an interesting story. The siblings, parents, and assorted relatives of the LaZelle clan form a cast of colorful characters that form a web of conflicting allegiances around Gypsum as she struggles to learn how to cope with her new powers. The relationship between Gypsum and her mother was a source of tension th... Read More

The FIREBIRDS Anthologies: Excellent short fiction for young adults

The FIREBIRDS anthologies edited by Sharyn November

Firebirds is the first of the three FIREBIRD anthologies edited by Sharyn November. Some people don’t like short stories, especially in anthologies where you are reading several different authors. I, however, almost always have a volume of short stories on my bedside table. Even if I manage to get no other reading done during a hectic day, it is a way for me to finish a whole story in 15-20 minutes. In an age where many authors seem incapable of writing anything other than multi-novel epics, it is a treasure to be able to enjoy a whole tale in one sitting.

Many collections of fantasy short stories are a compilation of hit or miss attempts to match a loosely defined theme for the volume. The Firebird Anthologies far exceed the industry standard. They are edited by Shar... Read More

Fall of Light: Reads like a cheesy horror movie

Fall of Light by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

(Note: Fall of Light is a "sideways sequel" to A Fistful of Sky. It refers back to some of the things that happened in A Fistful of Sky, but you could read Fall of Light on its own without any problem.)

Opal LaZelle (sister to Gypsum LaZelle of A Fistful of Sky) is a Hollywood makeup artist who specializes in making monsters for horror movies. What no one else realizes is that she can also do magic, and uses her talent to help in her work. On one movie however, the Dark God mask she makes for the leading actor, who she has fallen in love with, actually comes with a surprise: the Dark God himself possesses the actor. Now it’s up to Opal to figure out how to save the movie, and the man she loves, from this unwelcome guest.

... Read More

Thresholds: A good read for middleschoolers

Thresholds by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

In Thresholds, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, we meet Maya. Maya’s best friend Stephanie died of cancer during the school year, so her parents, both school teachers, accept new jobs in a new state to give her a new start. Then, the night before the school year starts, a fairy flies in through her bedroom window and decides that Maya makes an excellent pillow. Maya wakes in the morning to find a pile of fairy dust. Though most people don’t notice anything different about her, the strange kids from the weird apartment building next door, Janus House, adopt her as their own, and a strange boy no one has seen before grabs her after school and pushes what looks to be an egg against her arm, pleading with her to save the creature from dying. Confused about what is going on, Maya is about to refuse when the egg burrows its way painfully into her arm, and fuses with her skin. And ... Read More

Weird Tales: Seven Decades of Terror: Another wonderful collection from “The Unique Magazine”

Weird Tales: Seven Decades of Terror edited by John Betancourt & Robert Weinberg

This is the seventh anthology that I have reviewed that has been drawn from the pages of Weird Tales, one of the most famous pulp magazines in publishing history. Each of the previous collections had employed its own modus operandi in presenting its gathered stories. Weird Tales (1964) and Worlds of Weird (1965) had been slim paperbacks featuring previously uncollected stories. The Best of Weird Tales: 1923 (1997) had spotlighted tales solely from WT’s very first year. Weird Tales: A Selection In Facsimile (1990) was a generous hardcover offering photocopied pages from the original magazine. Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terror... Read More

Out of Avalon: An Anthology of Old Magic and New Myths

Out of Avalon: An Anthology of Old Magic and New Myths by Jennifer Roberson

Out of Avalon: An Anthology of Old Magic and New Myths is an anthology for everyone who loves re-takes on the Arthurian legends, and especially those readers who loved The Mists of Avalon and are seeking more of the same sort of retellings, laced with gender politics, religious issues, and romance.

As in all anthologies, some of the stories are to my taste, some aren't, and there is probably something for everyone. In my opinion, the stunner of the bunch is Rosemary Edghill's "Prince of Exiles." Set among bloodthirsty warlords rather than knights-n-ladies, it is narrated by Ator (Arthur)'s bitter illegitimate son, as he unfolds his intricate plan for revenge against his father. It's a darkly engrossing story until you get to the l... Read More

The Green Man: Read it slowly

The Green Man edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

In fairy tales, whenever someone journeys into the forest, you just know something strange is about to occur and that the protagonist’s life is going to be changed forever. The same is true of the stories and poems featured in The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest. With this collection, editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling kicked off a series of young adult anthologies, each devoted to a particular theme. Here, the theme is wild nature, and most of the stories feature teenage characters who encounter the wilderness and undergo a coming-of-age experience there.

Of course, I have my favorites. Delia Sherman contributes a tale of the Faery Queen of Central Park, and the insecure girl who faces her in a battle of wits. Read More

Wings of Fire: I thought I didn’t like dragons

Wings of Fire edited by Jonathan Strahan & Marianne S. Jablon

I don't like dragons.

This is probably not the first sentence you'd expect to find in a review of Wings of Fire, an anthology devoted exclusively to dragon stories, but I thought it best to get it out of the way right from the start.

There's nothing inherently wrong with dragons. They're just terribly overused, one of those tired genre mainstays that people who typically don't read a lot of fantasy will expect in a fantasy novel because they were practically unavoidable for a long time. To this day, I confess to having to suppress a mental groan whenever I encounter them.

For a long time, I actively avoided reading any fantasy novel with the word dragon in the title. Granted, I made several exceptions to this rule in the past, most notably The King's Dragon by Read More

More books by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

A Red Heart of Memories — (1999-2003) A Stir of Bones is a prequel and is suitable for young adults. Publisher: From Bram Stoker Award winner and Nebula and World Fantasy Awards finalist Nina Kiriki Hoffman comes a novel of two young people who live outside ordinary reality-and who are about to discover life’s extraordinary possibilities…

Nina Kiriki Hoffman fantasy book reviews 1. A Red Heart of Memories 2. Past the Size of Dreaming A Stir of BonesNina Kiriki Hoffman fantasy book reviews 1. A Red Heart of Memories 2. Past the Size of Dreaming A Stir of BonesNina Kiriki Hoffman fantasy book reviews 1. A Red Heart of Memories 2. Past the Size of Dreaming A Stir of Bones

Stand-alone novels:

Nina Kiriki Hoffman Child of an Ancient City, The Thread that Binds the Bones, The Silent Strength of Stones, A Fistful of Sky, Spirits that Walk in Shadow

The Thread That Binds the Bones — (1993) Publisher: Highly respected short story writer Hoffman’s first novel — of a family with dark and strange powers, and of the evil beneath the sleepy surface of a small rural town — will enchant readers as it has done reviewers and peers.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman Child of an Ancient City, The Thread that Binds the Bones, The Silent Strength of Stones, A Fistful of Sky, Spirits that Walk in ShadowThe Silent Strength of Stones — (1995) Publisher: It is a season of many wonders, with many secrets ripe for discovering… and some best left in shadow, unexplored. Summer has come to Sauterelle Lake. And inquisitive young Nick is discovering many things he doesn’t want to know: About a pretty girl with hypnotic eyes who talks to his soul… About a wild creature — a wolf — whose features shine with an intelligent, un-lupine knowing… About a strange, inhospitable family occupying a cabin that is meant to be empty. This summer, nature’s magic is not the only sorcery traveling on the wind. And the real trick will be surviving until the autumn.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsSpirits That Walk in Shadow — (2006) Publisher: Kim and Jaimie are freshman roommates, but their college experience is anything but typical. This is Jaimie’s first time in the “real world,” away from her large, complicated family and their magics and traditions. It’s Kim’s chance to escape her high school reputation. But Jaimie quickly realizes what Kim can’t see — it’s more than just a “reputation.” Kim is being pursued by something that feeds on her emotions. And, just like that, reality reshapes itself, as the two girls — along with Jaimie’s three cousins — try to capture and rout the viri, or soul demon, who is tracking Kim. This utterly original novel combines humor, darkness, and hope, and will spellbind readers.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsCatalyst: A Novel of Alien Contact  — (2006) Publisher: This psychologically complex science-fiction novel focuses on a sensitive adolescent making the difficult transition from childhood into adolescent sexuality and adult society. A boy, fleeing a bullying classmate, inadvertently makes first contact with a race of aliens who live beneath the surface of his planet. Exploring such subjects as the dynamics of dysfunctional families and human society’s greed-based political system, the book has eerie psychological undercurrents and tells an emotionally compelling and surprisingly sensual story.