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Sarah Monette

Sarah Monette fantasy authorSarah Monette is an American novelist and short story author writing mostly in the genres of fantasy and horror. She was born and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In 2004 she earned a PhD in English literature, specializing in Renaissance Drama and writing her dissertation on ghosts in English Renaissance revenge tragedy. She double-majored in Classics and Literature (a cross-departmental program between French, English, and Comparative Literature) in college. Learn more about Dr. Sarah Monette and read the first four chapters of her novels at her website. You can read about the use of the penname Katherine Addison on Sarah Monette’s blog.

Click here for more stories by Sarah Monette.

Melusine: The characters are the strong suits here

Melusine by Sarah Monette

Melusine has some definite issues as a first novel. It's setting doesn't feel quite fully fleshed out — even if one gives the author the benefit of the doubt and believes things are left unanswered for plot purposes and are “to be revealed later.” If that's the case, the reader could have done with a bit more revelation early on, especially with regard to the politics which drive so much of the characters' motivations. Without that background, their actions run the risk of seeming arbitrary just for the sake of plot. Some of the side plots/characters get dropped or resolved a bit too abruptly, as do some of the major actions, again even given consideration for the sequel. And the language moves too often between imagined-word-speak and modern slang.

That said, there is much to be enjoyed in Melusine and the book rewards the reader who is willing to... Read More

The Virtu: More of the same

The Virtu by Sarah Monette

Wizard Felix Harrowgate is back and much less crazy than he was during 90% of Sarah Monette's Melusine. So is thief Mildmay the Fox, who's a bit less mobile, crippled by a curse that caught up to him in the previous book. Their goal: To travel back across the world, return to Melusine (the city) and restore the magical crystal called the Virtu.

If the plot sounds a little thin...well, that might be because it is. It's padded with events, ones not necessarily pointless exactly, but not entirely relevant, either. Some of it is really interesting, including a trip into a creepy underground maze and the introduction of a new character, Mehitabel Parr, who muscles her way in on the trip to Melusine.

I suppose that's the whole thing. The Virtu offers much of the same; the same things I loved about Melusine and the same... Read More

The Bone Key: Tales of weirdness and horror

The Bone Key by Sarah Monette

I've been seeing Sarah Monette's name for a while but, for the most part, this collection of short stories was a blind purchase. The Bone Key deals with the exploits of Kyle Murchison Booth which are homages to M.R. James and H.P. Lovecraft. Now I'm not familiar with the former but I can attest that Monette captures the mood of the latter with this book. Even the protagonist himself is similar to Lovecraft's "heroes" although Monette improves upon the concept and provides us at the very least with an interesting character instead of simply delivering a verbose narrator who can't hold a decent conversation.

There are ten stories in The Bone Key and each features an element of weirdness or horror. Unlike Lovecraft, Monette is readable even to the casual reader... Read More

A Companion to Wolves: Monette + Bear = richly crafted fantasy

A Companion to Wolves by Elizabeth Bear

When I first started A Companion to Wolves I thought it was just going to be another run-of-the-mill fantasy. I mean you had humans who bonded telepathically with wolves, trolls and wyverns for enemies, and Norse culture/mythology as a major influence in the naming of characters, places, and things, the northern setting, and the religion (Othinn, Ragnarok, Freya, etc.).

Of course I should have known better. While I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of reading any Elizabeth Bear, I have read and enjoyed Ms. Monette's The Doctrine of Labyrinth books, which are known for being of a different breed. One of the most intriguing aspects about her series is the way she explores relationships and sexuality, both of which are carried over into A Companion to Wolves. Basically, the bond sh... Read More

An Apprentice to Elves: A primer in in-depth worldbuilding

An Apprentice to Elves by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette

An Apprentice to Elves, the third installment of the ISKRYNE series, is a book that depends on its thick world-building. Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette have created realistic cultures that take some cues from Norse and Roman history and dramatized a cultural conflict between them, at the same time as developing relationships and characters rooted in these cultures. Most of the narrative is set in the Northlands, an icy forested domain whose natural defenses are harsh enough to help the Northmen stay safe. But a new enemy, the fiercely disciplined Rhean, invades from the south, hoping to colonize the Northlands and bring the Northmen under their rule. The Northmen... Read More

Magazine Monday: Apex Magazine, Issues 31 through 33

Apex Magazine is a monthly e-magazine that publishes two short stories, one reprint story, a nonfiction piece and an interview in each issue, together with the occasional poem. In the three issues I read, the reprint fiction tended to outshine the original fiction -- which doesn’t mean the original fiction was bad, just that it couldn’t quite live up to the standard set by the well-chosen older stories. The interviews are thoughtful and generally go well beyond the usual topics, either to discuss the author’s work in considerable detail or to go into areas not normally explored in most interviews. The nonfiction is variable in topic but uniformly strong work. A subscription to Apex Magazine seems to be worth the $19.95 per year asking price, though the most recent issue suggests some caution.

In the December 2011 issue (No. 31), the editor-in-chief, Lynne M. Thomas, explains in her notes (a column... Read More

Magazine Monday: A Summer’s Worth of Apex Magazine

Apex Magazine is an online magazine I’ve reviewed once before, stating some reservations about the change in editorial command. I’m happy to report that the summer’s issues indicate that the magazine is as strong as ever. The June, July and August issues contain something to satisfy nearly every fantasy reader.

The August issue opens with the stunning “Waiting for Beauty” by Marie Brennan. This twist on the classic fairy tale “The Beauty and the Beast” will stop your breath. The devotion of the Beast to his Beauty is transcendent and sad.

Kat Howard’s “Murdered Sleep” is equally extraordinary, though in a completely different way.  Kora has long heard rumors of an impossibly wonderful party, full of masks and decadence. One day she rece... Read More

Magazine Monday: Apex Magazine, Issues 44 and 45

Issue 44 of Apex Magazine leads off with “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread” by Eugie Foster. It would take a hard heart to resist a story that starts like this: “Trixie got out of her cherry-red godmobile and waved away the flitting cherubim waiting to bear her to her sedan chair.” In the world Foster has created, one can become a god when the Karma Committee appears at her door bearing prizes akin to the Publishers Clearinghouse bonanza. Trixie uses her power to get rid of the jerks who write sexist, homophobic or racial comments on public internet forums. Can we all agree that we really need a goddess like this? But the work is growing less satisfactory lately; Trixie is having a mid-goddess crisis. The story is about how she gets past it, and it is as satisfying as it is funny.

Lettie Prell’s “The Performance Artist” asks serious questions about what constitutes life in a world where people can do... Read More

Fast Ships, Black Sails: Pirates and adventure!

Fast Ships, Black Sails edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer

I was never a big fan of pirates (ninjas, on the other hand...) but nonetheless, the very word evokes adventure and the high seas. Fast Ships, Black Sails doesn't really stray far from that expectation and delivers eighteen stories marked with action, treachery, and a sense of wonder.

A good chunk of the stories revolve around traditional concepts of a pirate, with only a few exceptions, such as "Boojum" by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette, which takes place in space. The rest take place on stormy waters with sea-worthy vessels manned by rascally crews. Surprisingly, many of the stories are ... Read More

Somewhere Beneath Those Waves

Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Sarah MonetteSomewhere Beneath Those Waves — (2011) Publisher: The first non-themed collection of critically acclaimed author Sarah Monette”s best short fiction. To paraphrase Hugo-award winner Elizabeth Bear’s introduction: “Monette’s prose is lapidary, her ideas are fantastical and chilling. She has studied the craft of fantastic fiction from the pens of masters and mistresses of the genre. She is a poet of the awkward and the uncertain, exalter of the outcast, the outre, and the downright weird. There is nothing else quite like Sarah Monette’s fiction.”