A Biography of a Chance Miracle is a collection of stories that appear unnoteworthy at first glance, but swell and fill the imagination as one reads them. The final twist is both perfectly surreal and perfectly logical in a book whose hero’s stubborn faith—in herself, if nothing else—is nothing short of magic.
Morrigan is an empathetic character with just the right combination of pluck and humility, and her increasing awareness of the importance of friendship, and of her growing sense of self-discovery is a subplot that drives the narrative forward, along with the competition trials and Morrigan’s desperation to find her gift.
With these recurring themes and patterns of place, Silver establishes an internal logic to a book that otherwise often appears random and almost too wondrous. But because of her skill with both description and with the larger structure of the work itself, Silver is able to craft a coherent narrative that works both as a fairytale and a question. Little Nothing leaves a reader both entertained and puzzled; like a work of art should,
While it might be tempting to contain the magic of the Old Kingdom series under genre classifications like “fantasy,” or “young adult” fiction, I think it’s fair to say that Nix is a writer whose work goes well beyond genre definitions and edges towards the classic. The work will appeal to readers of all tastes – particularly those who want to be transported into a world richly drawn and exotic, and yet so full of a very human verisimilitude of life, coming-of-age, and loss.
Steampunk and fantastical elements are in evidence (chronometers, automata, dirigibles, et al.) but don’t intrude unduly. And there are wondrous, moving passages full of lyricism, elegy, wonder and suggestive speculation. Cherish them as you puzzle out Rupetta’s world and its underlying culture and history. This is a strangely enchanting, wholly convincing novel.
In parting, Cast in Sorrow was an excellent book which will unarguably make up for the upset a lot of people felt with Cast in Peril; several key plot threads are covered, we are introduced to amazing new characters and the story is just great. As usual with “The Chronicles of Elantra”, as soon as I finish a new book, I can’t wait for the next.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane has been touted as Mr. Gaiman’s first book for adults in eight years. True, it does not quite fall into the “All Ages” category that separates his works from “Adult” because a six-year-old would probably be scarred for life reading (or listening) to the scene where our hero (a seven-year-old boy) is almost drowned in his Safe Place (the bathtub where he reads) by his own father.
The Gamers trilogy will appeal particularly to fans of, Tron, Doctor Who and Pullman’s The Golden Compass (Northern Lights). It really does have everything: mind-bendingly awesome gadgets, characters you can’t help but care about and even a side-order of romance. But more than that this story, while deceptively simple on the surface, challenges readers to consider the big questions regarding our existence.
We learn here that Mary Shelley’s novel was a fiction and a fabrication, Victor Frankenstein an unreliable narrator, to put it kindly. All in all, he’s a nasty, contemptible piece of work. Friedrich Hoffman is cast as an outcast, a wanderer and an avenger whose route towards payback takes in encounters with various Gothic grotesqueries: vampyres, werewolves, devil-worshippers, pseudo-Satanists (a la the Hellfire Club) and maybe even Dracula himself.
Though the ultimate purpose of the book does appear to be didactic – global warming and impending environmental catastrophe are generally accepted within the mainstream scientific community as proven fact – and the parallels between Dr Lipkin and the author’s own studies are probably the subject of at least a few fascinating interviews, the story reads well as fiction, creating each world entirely so that the reader becomes engrossed in the historical time and place along with the protagonist.