During the last months, I was entirely taken in by Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy and couldn’t bring myself to read anything else. Now that the book hangover has subsided, my brain made some space for new books. And as it happens on the interwebs, many trusted people give many fantastic recommendations. It’s been a while since I’ve been this torn about what to pick up next. EVERYTHING SOUNDS SO GOOD!!!
V.E. Schwab – A Darker Shade of Magic
Not only does this book come recommended from practically everyone, it also has two brilliant covers (both UK and US look gorgeous for once – ETA: And check out book two, it’s so shiny!). A few days ago, I listened to this charming podcast Cooking the Books, and Victora Schwab was so passionate and excited about her book, I’m itching to start reading it right now. Edit: And I’m already halfway through…
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.
This is Renay and Ana’s fault. In their Fangirl Happy Hour podcast, they made this book sound irresistible. I think this will be like the kind of story that sticks with you after you’re done reading. I skipped the spoilery bits and still got totally excited to pick up the book for myself.
Bone Gap is the story of Roza, a beautiful girl who is taken from a quiet midwestern town and imprisoned by a mysterious man, and Finn, the only witness, who cannot forgive himself for being unable to identify her kidnapper. As we follow them through their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.
I don’t remember how I found this book but since it’s set in Portugal, I immediately bought it for my Read Around the World challenge. The cover is a bit generic (girl in nice dress looking over her shoulder) but “spy” and “court” and “sea folk” are buzz words for me, at least when combined. This also sounds like it has a bickering couple in it and you know how I get weak in the knees when it comes to bickering couples.
For two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of the Golden City, reporting back to her people, the sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores….
When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die.
Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.
Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone….
Ken Liu – The Grace of Kings
Another book that has garnered nothing but praise (with the occasional reservation) and that I’ve been excited for since last year. I don’t really know what to expect but I look forward to diving into this epic fantasy. Also, “silk-draped airships” and “conspiring goddesses” sounds totally up my alley.
Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, soaring battle kites, conspiring goddesses, underwater boats, magical books, as a streetfighter-cum-general who takes her place as the greatest tactitian of the age. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.
Elizabeth Bear – Karen Memory
I still haven’t finished The Eternal Sky trilogy but Karen Memory looks too delicious to wait. That cover makes me giddy! Again, Renay and Ana are partly to blame for my excitement. I got this book as soon as it came out but it climbed up all the way on my to read pile after their episode of Fangirl Happy Hour.
“You ain’t gonna like what I have to tell you, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I’m one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. Hôtel has a little hat over the o like that. It’s French, so Beatrice tells me.”
Set in the late 19th century—when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.
Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the old west with a light touch in Karen’s own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science.
So these are the books I’m itching to read very soon. Since starting this post, I already cound’t keep my hands off one of them and it’s just as good as everyone said. May the other books follow suit. And once I’m through this pile, I can finally catch up on City of Stairs and the rest of Vandermeer’s Area X trilogy. Man, reading is stressful sometimes…