Silver in the Wood

Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh book cover

Not A Review

aka: I read a thing.

Tobias is a Wild Man of the Wood. Henry Silver is the new lord of the manor. When the two meet, magic happens.

I just finished reading this little gem. On my Kobo, at my preferred font size, Silver in the Wood clocked in at a whopping 82 pages, which gave me hope that I’d actually be able to finish it in a timely manner. I’ve been having some difficulty settling my brain and getting into my reading lately, so discovering that the story that’s been making little ripples in my twitter stream wasn’t a full-size novel was actually refreshing.

(I’m also ramping up to do some reading for the Aurora Awards, so this is helping me ease into it. Huzzah.)

The concept of the Green Man of the Woods isn’t a new one. I think that any kid raised on fairy tales recognizes the Grimm atmosphere of dense woods, trees with a mind of their own, and uncanny forest-dwellers. Archetypes run the gamut from Hearne to Treebeard; I suspect that as long as there have been trees, someone has looked for their spirit.

Tobias has been around for at least 400 years. His memories are hazy, but that’s the count he’s sticking to. He’s happy taking care of his woods, his cat, and his dryad friends. Henry Silver, the new owner of Greenhollow Hall, is fascinated with his new home and the legends surrounding the area. Green as a young sapling, he’s enthusiastic to learn, and quickly manages to attach himself to the older, wiser man. It’s an attraction with consequences, evoking the changing of the seasons and the pagan rebirth of the old god.

Folk fantasy has had a huge boost in the past handful of years with works such as Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Spinning Silver and Thomas Olde Heuveldt’s Hex. Silver in the Wood seems to sit solidly between the two, with a sweet romance that, more than once, reminded me of C. L. Polk’s Witchmark. It’s not really a fairy tale, but it’s not overt horror. At least not at first. If you enjoyed Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, this might be right up your alley.

ps: I purchased this book all on my ownsome with my own cash monies. Because Kobo had it on sale for a more than reasonable price and PayPal is now an option at checkout. No goods were exchanged in trade for this not-a-review.

Book Review: Signal to Noise

Signal to Noise Book Cover

Signal to Noise

Silvia Moreno-Garcia



February 10, 2015



Prix Aurora Awards packet

A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City. Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends -- Sebastian and Daniela -- and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love... Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?

I’m having trouble processing the fact that I’ve already finished my first Aurora read. Certainly, at 272 pages, Signal to Noise isn’t a huge book, but it’s packed with all kinds of action.

In 1988, Meche is a fifteen-year-old girl with an obsession for music and an affinity for computers. She comes to realize that she can use her vinyl records to compose magical spells, and attempts to use this gift for both fair and foul reasons.  She’s at that age where she hasn’t fully matured, yet she’s not a child any longer. While other girls are pretty and popular, she’s dealing with pimples and social awkwardness. Her two best friends are similarly challenged and dealing with the pressures of their school’s social hierarchy. In addition, her parents are on the cusp of divorce. The only stable force in her life is the grandmother who tells her stories of magic and witches.

Fast-forward to 2009 and Meche returns to Mexico for her estranged father’s funeral. She has to confront her feelings about him and his abandonment of her family. She also has to face the friends she abused and some nasty home truths that have been keeping her from truly moving forward in her life.

The story is fast-paced and the characters are vividly realized. I started reading Signal to Noise a couple of days ago while recovering from a migraine. I blazed through the rest of it tonight. You give me a compelling enough story and I have trouble putting the book down. Dishes? What dishes?

As I’ve been doing my own reading and research into the art of writing, one of the major factors that keeps being mentioned is ‘voice’, both on a narrative level and a character level. If this story has one huge star quality, it’s the voice.

While I was reading, I was hearing a Spanish/English rhythm to the language, from the everyday English sentences to the occasional Spanish word or phrase. I don’t know how many people hear accents when they read, but I’m definitely one of them. Never let anyone tell you that a second-language class isn’t worth it — I made good use of my own high school Spanish education (sadly atrophied, but still useful).

Music is another huge aspect to this book, and as a music nerd, I appreciated the little touches that mentioning songs from specific eras lent to the story. Whether it was invoking the sultry tones of jazz or the pop-candy of Dead or Alive and Cyndi Lauper, the narrative and setting stayed firmly in focus depending on the music. My aforementioned high-school Spanish classes? The teacher totally had all us girls swooning over Luis Miguel. Thanks Mrs. Xander. Thanks.

As an aside, my grade-school French teacher tried the same tactic with a couple of Quebecois bands/singers, but he missed The Age of Hormones by about three years and it didn’t work out quite as well for him. Quel dommage.

In the end, Signal to Noise is a story of growing up, of forgiveness, and redemption. We see the mistakes made due to miscommunication, or the petty jealousies that feed immature selfishness. We see the sacrifices the more mature characters are willing to make, and in the end, it’s up to Meche to come to grips with the life she’s made for herself and see that she needs to move beyond the choices she’s made.

Wonderful story. Earns all my stars.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I probably have some dishes that need washing…

Book Review: The Peripheral by William Gibson

The Peripheral Book Cover

The Peripheral

William Gibson

Science Fiction / Fantasy

Putnam Adult

October 28, 2014



Prix Aurora Award reader's package

Depending on her veteran brother's benefits in a city where jobs outside the drug trade are rare, Flynne assists her brother's latest beta-test tech assignment only to uncover an elaborate murder scheme. By the best-selling author of Zero History. 100,000 first printing.

Yes, yes, the Prix Aurora Awards are long over by now, but I wanted to still put up my review of William Gibson’s The Peripheral. It’s taken me a while to be able to sort out my thoughts on the book.

What is the outstanding “trend” in the book? (ie: outer space, aliens, dragons, elves, parallel worlds, etc):
I would say that parallel worlds sums this one up.

Is there a Message?:
Not really, I don’t think. It didn’t clobber me over the head with anything. If the message was that being poor sucks, well, we all know that’s true.

Any other genres incorporated into the book? Was it done well?:
This one seems to be straight-up science fiction/fantasy. Once I knew what was going on, it worked really well.

Is the “trend” realistic?:
Kinda? Will explain down below.

Was the book easy to get into?:
Oh hell no. I actually needed a glossary to finally understand what the hell I was trying to wrap my brain around.

Did you have to do any homework (pre-reading) to really understand the book?:
No previous books set in this world, no. At least, that I know of.

Was the world believeable?:
Once I figured out what I was reading? Possibly? The best way to describe how the worlds worked is to say that it’s like one future has the ability to play with alternate dimensions of the past the way that some of us play The Sims. The overarching plot after that (character sees a crime committed and has to provide evidence) is just gravy.

Were the characters believable?:
Yes. The characters were all very well realized. It’s one of Gibson’s main talents. Once you figure out which world you’re in and the world-building that surrounds it, the characters themselves are a treat.

What “problems” did you have with the book?:
There was a lot of slang. A lot of slang. Parts of the story are set in a world not too far ahead of us, and another that’s a few decades ahead of that. Apparently a lot changes in between those times, which made it hard for me to read the book without some form of translation.  So I looked up a helpful glossary online that told me what things meant without spoiling the story. Problem solved.

Actually, the site that I’ve linked as the glossary pretty well sums up my issues with the book right in the introduction. I was confused to the point that I almost put the book down a few times…and having that one or two extra bits of explanation really helped me to relax and enjoy it.

What did you like about the book?:
Once I understood what I was reading, I really did enjoy the story. As mentioned, it was a standard “protect the witness” plot, but with some really interesting twists. It also didn’t end the way that I thought it would…the few Gibson books I’ve read have had some really grim endings, and this one was surprisingly upbeat.

Last Thoughts:
Reading comprehension has never been a problem for me before this point. To be honest, Peter Watts’ books operate on a level that I have difficulty grasping. This one was worse. I’ve waded through medical journal text that was easier to understand. To be honest, I felt downright stupid for the first quarter to half of the book before I found the glossary and the little lightbulb went on. I really don’t like feeling that way, particularly when reading a book by an author that I admire. Some like the discovery that comes from being in the dark…I just felt like I was obviously too dim to understand what I was reading — which was a rather glum thought, and before finding the glossary, had me wishing I’d bought the  hardcover* so I could pitch it across the room with a satisfying thud.

I was very happy to find out that the fault really wasn’t with me, but the fact that Gibson seems to have gone out of his way to obscure the story. I suppose I might have been a little more good-natured about the whole thing if I hadn’t been on a very tight reading schedule at the time.

Do I recommend it?  Oh most definitely yes!  The story, once you get past the stumbling points, is wonderful. If you need the glossary, here it is again. My suggestion is the same as the glossary authors – don’t read it unless you find you need it. It’s very possible you’ll click with the story a lot sooner than I did.


* I’m still going to buy the book, though. It’s actually a really good story, so it will be going into The Library.

Book Review: The Future Falls by Tanya Huff

The Future Falls Book Cover

The Future Falls

Gale Women #3

Tanya Huff

Urban Fantasy

DAW Books Inc.

November 2014



Prix Aurora Award Package

When Auntie Catherine warns the family of an approaching asteroid, the Gales scramble to keep humans from going the way of the dinosaurs. Fortunately for the world, they're wielding a guitar and a dragon.

The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, which has caused some supernaturally complicated family shenanigans in the past. So when NASA and Doomsday Dan confirm Auntie Catherine's dire prediction, Charlotte "Charlie" Gale turns to the family for help.

But Allie is unavailable because the universe seems determined to have her produce the seventh son of a seventh son of a seventh son of a Gale.  And the Aunties can't help because they're tied to the earth – although they are happy to provide their delicious, trademark pies.  And in the end, all Charlie has is a guitar...

...and Jack. The Dragon Prince, and a Sorcerer.

But Charlie might like Jack just a little too much, and Jack might like Charlie a little too much in return. Actually, between Allie's hormones, the Aunties trying to force her and Jack into ritual, the Courts having way too much fun at the end of days, and Jack's sudden desire to sacrifice himself for the good of the many, Charlie's fairly certain that the asteroid is the least of her problems.

The Gales are going to need more than pie to save the world from an incoming asteroid. But together there isn't anything they can't deal with – except possibly each other.


The Future Falls is my second-read book out of the five Prix Aurora Awards nominations for Best Novel. I finished the book in one day of reading. I did not purchase the book; it was included in the voter’s package for the Auroras.

What is the outstanding “trend” in the book? (ie: outer space, aliens, dragons, elves, parallel worlds, etc):
Dragons. Of course it’s dragons.

Is there a Message?:
Nope. Once you get around the world-building, it was a straightforward fantasy romp.

Any other genres incorporated into the book? Was it done well?:
There was quite a bit of romantic angst in it. In fact, I’d say that the Urban Fantasy was pretty much just a vehicle for the overall Romance plot.

Is the “trend” realistic?:
I have problems with romantic dragons. Particularly romantic teenage dragons who pine for women in their 30’s, but mostly just with dragons. The dragons I grew up with were ruthless, cunning, and greedy. Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch made Smaug sound sexy, but Smaug is downright avaricious. I’m pretty sure that by now most people should be aware that one does not meddle with dragons — for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

Was the book easy to get into?:
Content-wise, yes. Format-wise, no. Stupid PDF files.
I did feel that the book was loooong. But that’s possibly due to the huge amount of backstory that’s built into the novel due to it being part of a series. Could also be due to the fact that I was reading really tiny text on a PDF displayed on a Kobo, and having to manually adjust every bloody page. Every. Bloody. Page.

Did you have to do any homework (pre-reading) to really understand the book?:
It would have helped. The Future Falls is the third in a series. There was a ton of world-building vis-a-vis the family dynamic, which probably would have made more sense if I had started with book #1. Also might have dulled the WTF-factor regarding that same family dynamic.

Was the world believeable?:
In regards to the setting? Definitely. I live in Calgary. I’ve been to, or driven past, most of the locations mentioned. Most of those locations are mentioned casually, without a ton of detail, so it’s not like I could or would nitpick.

I had some problems with the family dynamic.

Were the characters believable?:
Yes and no. I genuinely liked the Main Character, Charlie. She’s a musician, I’m a musician…I get that. She doesn’t want to be forced to stay in one place, wants to keep moving…again, I get that. I moved often enough before I was 10 years old that I’m always wondering when the trucks are coming to pack up my house. The conflict between her wanting to do the right thing to save her family and save the world versus just packing it all in and finding a jazz bar to ride out the coming apocalypse is a good one.

And then we have the dragon. A teenage, lovesick dragon. And suddenly the book isn’t just about “how do we save the earth and keep the family intact”, it’s now also “you have an inappropriate attraction to a much younger man.” Never mind the fact that he, too, is somehow genetically related to the main character. In fact, they’re all related to each other.

What “problems” did you have with the book?:
Many, many problems.

 The age gap between the romantic leads felt like I was watching the lead-in to a movie-of-the-week about the 30-something schoolteacher who takes up with her student because she’s bored with her lifestyle.

  Dragons. Dragons, dragons dragons. Lovesick teenage dragons. I fully admit that I have issues with the Romantic Dragon scenario. It’s possible that’s because every time I do a lookup on fantasy novels lately, there seem to be a ton of them. I have friends who read dragon erotica. Perhaps I’m just dragonned-out. Maybe it’s because the last book I read that featured a dragon (Uprooted by Naomi Novik) was absolutely fabulous. The Dragon in that novel didn’t disappoint. Yes, I had said that if I were the heroine he’d have been chucked out a window, but he was acting like a dragon (even if it was only a title and not his actual species).

  There appears to be a lot of consanguineous sex in this family. The family is one big coven, and there are sex rituals. Often enough that it’s joked that one secondary (or tertiary) character needs some help as the women are wearing him out. There’s a concern for what one of the male characters will do if his mother crosses into his territory. This raised huge WTF flags for me. Big ones. I fully admit that when I was a kid I had a crush on one of my older cousins. Dude cosplays as Batman (now that he’s grown up and can afford it), so my crush was understandable. But that’s all it ever was. An innocent crush. We’ve seen what inbreeding does to a family. It’s not pretty. Why is this a huge plot point in this novel???

♦  The premise that had me eager to read the book became secondary to the romance. It’s like someone saying “okay. The sky is actually falling. Big asteroid coming to a planet near you. By warping time and space to get the one you love into the right age of majority, you’ll pull a Bruce Willis and deus-ex-machina that sucker out of the sky.” And this is why I have serious issues with the blurred line between Romance and Urban Fantasy.

 I had to Google search a musical instrument. This is only a very minor beef, but why choose a relatively obscure instrument as a device when there are so many other accessible instruments? The guy who brings this book for some light reading at the cottage may not have a computer or set of Encyclopaedia Britannica handy.

  There is an unnatural obsession with pie in this family. Even beings outside the family know about the pie. Why is it not being sold by Simple Simon so I can pick one up at the Co-Op???

What did you like about the book?:
I liked the fact that the setting was fairly familiar. As mentioned, I live in Calgary and the book is set mostly in that part of Alberta. I liked the fact that the main character was a musician, so it was easy for me to relate to her that way. I liked the fact that characters didn’t seem to be black-and-white in many of their views, and that  bisexuality was portrayed in a respectable way. I have serious issues with sexuality being seen mainly as gay or straight and the concept of bisexuality as really being one or the other but unwilling to admit it.

I liked the fact that there wasn’t a ton of canoodling. If there was sex, it was happening somewhere off-screen. It’s not that I don’t like sex in my books, it’s just that we’ve already seen my issues with Romance vs Urban Fantasy.

I liked that the author had a sense of humour. There were quite a few good pop-culture related jokes that I found myself giggling along with. It reminded me of a gentler, slightly-less-snarky Dresden Files in that respect.

The thing I loved? That it was an Urban Fantasy written by a Canadian and actually set in Canada. Perhaps I haven’t yet hit the motherlode of Canadian UF, but I find that my home country is often overlooked in favour of the States. Yes, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles are cool settings, but Forever Knight was shot in Toronto. X-Files filmed in the Vancouver area. There are eldritch places in Canada that need more love and beg to be inhabited by pixies and kobolds. Trust me, I’ve been there!
(There’s a set of waterfalls just outside of Yellowknife that spring to mind, as well as rocky pools on the shores of the Ottawa River. Visit those and tell me you don’t feel goosebumps.)

Last thoughts:
There’s a part of me that is curious as to the content of the first two books in the series. Maybe it would have helped me wrap my brain around what was happening in this novel. Maybe not.

I was glad to see Urban Fantasy have a spot on the list. UF is a popular subgenre, and it’s really nice to see magic happening in an everyday setting. I just wish that the magic rules the author used had relied less on bloodlines and more on other things.

So do I think that this book deserves an Aurora? Unfortunately, no. Not at this time. We’ll see what Julie E. Czerneda, Peter Watt and William Gibson have for me.

Book Review: My Real Children by Jo Walton

My Real Children Book Cover

My Real Children

Jo Walton

Science Fiction

Tor Books

May 20 2014



Prix Aurora Award Package

It's 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. "Confused today," read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know-what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don't seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.

Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War-those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?

Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history; each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs. Jo Walton's My Real Children is the tale of both of Patricia Cowan's lives...and of how every life means the entire world.


My Real Children is the first book out of the five Prix Aurora Awards nominations for Best Novel. I finished it in one day of reading. I did not purchase the book; it was included in the voter’s package for the Auroras.

What is the outstanding “trend” in the book? (ie: outer space, aliens, dragons, elves, parallel worlds, etc):
Alternate Universes — Jo Walton shows us the two lives of the same woman after she makes a major decision in her life.

Is there a Message?:
It sure felt like it to me. I’m a little confused as to what it was, though. I don’t want to give away the book, but it felt like one decision punishes the main character personally while the world they live in thrives, and the other decision gives personal happiness at the expense of the main character’s world going to hell in a handbasket.

Any other genres incorporated into the book? Was it done well?:
Although the book was working with Alternate Realities, it really felt more like Women’s Fiction or Literary Fiction to me. It was a good read, don’t get me wrong, but not something I would generally reach for.

Is the “trend” realistic?:
Only halfway? I’ll get into that later.

Was the book easy to get into?:
Actually, yes. It was very engaging, right from the start. A huge part of that is the storytelling. The other, much much smaller part was the file format. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, ePUB reads very, very nicely on my Kobo.

Did you have to do any homework (pre-reading) to really understand the book?:
Nope. If the book is part of a series, I’m not aware of it.

Was the world believeable?:
Not in my eyes, but again, I’ll get into that below.

Were the characters believable?:
Yes, to a certain extent. It felt like there were characters that had been given a lot of development, and a few characters that were almost caricatured.  Again, I’ll get into that…below.

What “problems” did you have with the book?:
Welcome to “below”.
Problems, I have many.

 I have a hard time believing that the choice of whether or not you “marry the guy” would lead to the sweeping world changes seen in each reality in the book. Neither reality is set in our current timeline (there are references to J.F.K. in the book that support this). The world changes would suppose that *everyone* is making alternate decisions along the way, not just the main character. If I could believe that, I could believe that my decision to take piano lessons directly affected the fall of the Berlin Wall. I guess my faith in Chaos Theory just isn’t that strong.

 A character who is so closeted that he lives his life in misery to the point where he closes himself off to almost every single person in his life. He even goes the extra mile to be excessively verbally and mentally abusive. While I’m sure that these folks exist, the world he lives in is increasingly more and more liberal. I find it hard to believe that he couldn’t come to terms with himself and his liberal family in order to attain some glimmer of personal happiness. It’s like the character just exists to be an asshole and a burden on the main character.

 Some secondary characters feel like placeholders so you know what era it is. The kid who knows computers, the guy who dies from AIDS…just felt a little too stereotypical and shoehorned in for my tastes.

 Everyone turns against you when you’re old.  The children that we’ve seen Patricia raise throughout both timelines seem like a bunch of greedy little gits by the end of the book. And when Patricia is shown to have a medical problem, they get offended and treat it like a moral issue that Granny really can’t remember that X Event occurred. I’ve seen some skeevy family politics in my time, but I couldn’t point to a single redeeming member of either family by the end of the book.

 No real resolution at the end of the book. We get to see the two timelines, but the resolution is…vague. Or maybe I’m just not insightful enough to intuit it.

What did you like about the book?:
Practically seamless world building. It helped that there was a lot of exposition every time you jumped between realities, but the world building was cumulative.

I also liked that the author was able to tell two complete life stories in approximately 320 pages. That’s pretty impressive. You get to know both versions of Patricia fairly well, and explore the world from her eyes in two very different ways.

Last thoughts?:
I got to the end and the only thing that crossed my mind was “Huh. I guess that’s that.”

I was vaguely unsatisfied because the story was…well…kind of a memoir. It was a book of quiet reflection on the lives of two identities who were the same person (if you can follow that). There were peaks and valleys, yes, but nothing that I could discern as a solid story structure. It would be different if Patricia had woken up one day in her nursing home and a (singular) friendly person from both pasts was there to help her on her journey to Her One True Self. We could have the standard hero’s journey of hijinks and misadventure, coupled with the fact that our heroine is in her 90’s and has a memory like a sieve.  Instead, Patricia gets old and reflects on the two pasts that she has solid memories of living before the end of her days. Huh.
Maybe it’s just me, and maybe this is why I don’t generally read women’s fiction. :-/

I’m not saying I didn’t like the book. Just that it was far too easy to pick up the next one and start reading. I definitely recommend it, but I don’t think it’s my Aurora pick.


Uprooted Book Cover


Naomi Novik


Del Rey Books

May 19, 2015


“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

There are very few books that I’ve read on a recommendation, mostly because taste in literature is extremely subjective. The person who loves Literary Fiction or Women’s Fiction or cookbooks may not understand my love of fantasy, horror and the occasional romantic thriller. Sure, I’ll look up a variety of reviews online before purchasing a book that I’m not sure I’ll actually read, but otherwise, I try to use my own judgement.

I try not to be too much of a snob about the books I read. I’m getting better at it, but I still have my moments. For instance, I just can’t bring myself to read Twilight. I’m more an Interview with the Vampire kind of girl.

I couldn’t even get halfway through 50 Shades. Seriously. They may ask for my girl-card back.


That said, when my sister-in-law recommended I check out Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, I nodded and dutifully purchased it from I had come across the title while checking out the fantasy section on Goodreads, and the first part of the blurb stuck with me.

Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon.

It’s a new take on The Princess and the Dragon! Half of me did a little dance of joy, the other half was looking at it with suspicion, somewhat like the kid in The Princess Bride: “Is it a kissing book?

Not that there’s anything wrong with kissing books. But I’m looking for a good fantasy with magic and adventure, not paranormal erotica. Not that I think my sister-in-law would recommend that to me, but she can be tricksy when she thinks I’m not paying attention.

I needn’t have worried. I promptly ignored the fact that I’d planned on reading Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and a comedic fantasy about paranormal janitors. I dove into Uprooted, and it was what went with me whenever I had a moment to read.

I grew up reading books written mostly in the third person, and that’s what I’m most comfortable reading. Uprooted is written in first-person, which I find somewhat jarring. I don’t need to know every thought going through the protagonist’s head, which some authors tend to do. I have the same problem with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series whenever a new book comes out. Even so, I quickly relaxed into the story, which says a lot about Novik’s ability to pull the reader into the world.  Lots of action, lots of intrigue, and lots of world-building that was very reminiscent of European folk-tales. The story was like reading a well-written translation of a Grimm Fairy Tale with plenty of magic and adventure.

There’s even a love story. I was happy that it didn’t overwhelm, but instead complemented the rest of the story. My only gripe was that in building a Beauty and the Beast-type plot, the Dragon was a little too beastly. To be blunt, if I’d been the heroine, he would have been chucked out the first convenient window in the tower at the earliest opportunity. Happily, for the sake of the plot, our Main Character doesn’t take my advice into consideration, and soldiers on. By the end of the novel, it’s pretty clear that she’s no shrinking violet and is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, thank-you-very-much. Very satisfying.

Definitely a novel I would recommend to others looking for a couple of days of escapist fun. I may even track down the adventure series that she’s written, as I hear that my nephew is a fan.

Back to reading Bradbury!