Goodness, it’s already the third week of this new year and new decade. The spring semester has already started. So far so good for me (for those you just joining us, I have some serious health issues resulting from Lyme disease and toxic mold exposure and who knows what else), although I am definitely sore from standing and writing at the board. One of those things you don’t know till you get into it is how tiring writing on the board is. Probably teachers have special mid-back muscles that the trained eye can instantly recognize. And then there’s the voice strain…
Anyway, between that and the fact that I *should* be working on the revisions of my war lit academic book, I don’t have a lot new in the fantasy department going on right now. Although I am working on audiobook versions of the Giaco & Luca books, which has been super-fun. Tiring, but I have quite gotten into doing voices. The Shadowy Man alone has 11 different male voices, plus several female ones. I’m still in the editing and post-production stage of that one, and I’m reasonably pleased with how the different voices came out, but I think it improves with each book. As always, you will be the first to know when the audiobooks are available.
Meanwhile, I also happened to read a couple of great fantasy or fantasy-esque books in the past couple of weeks, so I thought I’d share them. And of course, if you’ve read something really awesome, I’d love to hear about it!
Book recommendation #1 is Pride and Prometheus, by John Kessel, who, I just discovered, is also a North Carolina-based literature professor, so that’s fun. Pride and Prometheus follows Mary Bennet of Pride & Prejudice, but 13 years later. She runs into Victor Frankenstein, who is on the run from his Creature, at a London ball. Romance between them appears possible, but the presence of the Creature may ruin everything…
I loved this book (my full review is here), but it may not be for everyone. If you’re of the opinion that Jane Austen wrote light and frothy romantic comedies, and/or you have a desperate need for anything that smacks of romance to follow the romance master plot with slavish fidelity, you might find this book disconcerting. It takes the darkness that lurks just under the surface in Austen’s works, and that appears right on the surface in Mary Shelley’s, and runs with it. Pride and Prometheus is dark, Gothic, thought-provoking, incredibly compelling, and full of delightful allusions for Austen and Mary Shelley fans. If that sounds tempting, run, don’t walk, to your nearest online book retailer and grab a copy.
The second book on my recommended list is Dead Ringer, the 5th book in Kat Ross’s Gaslamp Gothic series. (Apparently I’m on a Gothic kick). Well, since it’s the 5th book, this is more a recommendation for the entire series, which is actually two intertwined series, both of which are excellent. Book 1 is what appears to be a fairly standard historical mystery set in New York in the 1880s, although there is a hint of possible supernatural activity. Book 2 confirms the supernatural activity and introduces a couple of new characters, although if you’ve read Ross’s earlier epic fantasy, you’ll discover they’re not that new at all. Books 3 & 4 are largely in Europe and focus on the old-world characters with magical powers. Book 5 returns to New York and the non-magical heroine-caught-up-in-the-supernatural there. Both plotlines are satisfying, even though they haven’t been resolved yet, and both settings are marvelously Gothic and magical, if in very different ways. If you’re more into straight fantasy, I recommend books 3 & 4; if you like mysteries with a hint of the supernatural I recommend books 1, 2, & 5.