One of the best things about our recent change in fortunes is that I can indulge in my favorite pasttime – escaping into worlds that storytellers share with those of us who like to read. I have been on a reading marathon recently. That means that I have been buying books in clusters. I have also purchased a Kindle since space is at a premium in this house. I do not get rid of books, I collect them. I read them. I find authors who offer me thrills, delights and viewpoints to ponder.
It used to be I would devour a book, enjoy the flavor and substance of it, dream of being a writer myself and then realize that I had no talent. Out of necessity, that dream has re-surfaced and with it a different way of reading. I am observing how these writers present their worlds and, slowly, trying out some of those things I have observed in my own writing. In doing that, I have learned that I have a bit more talent than I was led to believe I had. I doubt that I will ever become a “real, published writer”, but I can put my silly little stories on this site and maybe someone, someday might enjoy them.
The recent marathon was caused by the delivery of six books, five of which I am going to rave about here – the Fyne Witch Sisters by Linda Winstead Jones and the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire.
Last year, during one of those rare times when I had a few extra bucks and could afford to splurge on one book, I picked up The Moon Witch because the cover blurb and a skim of the first few pages got my attention. It was a delightful read and, like most good series, the book could stand alone without reading the other two. This is a Good Thing because I have a habit of reading series out of order. If you have to read a series In Sequence to be able to understand what is going on, the writer/editor/publisher aren’t doing the best job they can. Especially when a Not Our Earth world is presented.
The Moon Witch was fun and I wanted to read the other two books in the series, but finances were tight. So I sighed and said “Some day.” Some Day came sooner than expected and I was able to get The Sun Witch, the first in the series, and The Star Witch, the third in the series. What totally surprised me about this series was that, even though it was High Fantasy (witches, don’t you know), they was actually Romance Novels. I am not a fan of Romance Novels. Most of them are sappy and trite.
But this series presents three strong women who have doubts about their abilities, who are pulled into adventures and, in spite of being pulled into the forefront of a civil war within their country, manage to find out who they are and who they are meant to be. A small part of each story is that the three sisters had three different fathers. The main plot (and there are several subplots that keep you guessing) is for them to come into their powers and defeat a three-hundred-year-old curse placed on their family by an angry wizard. In the process each learns to accept the darkness within themselves that resides in everyone. From my own experience, this is a difficult path, but LWJ does not trivialize it.
Each Witch stumbles, nearly gives up and then realizes that, in spite of the men who have entered their lives, they are the only ones who can rescue themselves.
BTW – if you are offended by blatant sex scenes, pass this up. Lots of very graphic sex in this, but, honestly, I didn’t find it objectionable.
I was lucky enough last year to be one of the recipients of an Advanced Reader Copy (which I will treasure until the end of my days) of Seanan McGuire’s first October (Toby) Daye book – Rosemary and Rue. I was hooked for many reasons including the fact that it was well written and did not have the ‘feel’ of a New Writer. Seanan writes with a maturity that several established writers sometimes have trouble reaching. The action takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area, a place I grew up in and still have a fondness for (even if I can’t deal with some of the population problems it developed before I moved away in the late 80′s), so many of the places she writes about I can visualize in my mind’s eye.
Seanan is also unusual in that she has managed to get published, within two years, four books out of a series – A Local Habitation, An Artificial Night and Late Eclipses.
I don’t know if it was because I read these books in order and one right after the other, but what a wild roller coaster ride. Toby Daye is a changeling (half Fae and half human) who works as a Private Investigator. Toby has a penchant for making Very Powerful Enemies in The Land of the Fae and making friends of those who ought to be her adversaries. She spends a lot of time on a case under-sleeping, under-eating and often injured by weird Fae things – objects and critters. I, for one, felt how she did as I was reading. To me, this is a Really Good Writer.
In A Local Habitation, Toby is sent to ‘just check up on’ her liege’s niece, January O’Leary. Simple enough until she gets to the knowe/computer company and finds a couple of mysteries that need her PI talents.
With An Artificial Night, she starts out trying to find the children of her friends who have disappeared without a trace and ends up fighting the biggest, baddest boogie-man you’ve ever seen whilst trying to keep from falling under his influence as well. Just when you think she has finished with the case, the roller coaster climbs another hill and speeds around a 90° bend and the ride continues.
Late Eclipses has Toby dancing to agendas created by her enemies and detractors, while those who have become friends try their darndest to help her avoid the deadly tango by cutting in wherever humanly (uh, Fae-ly?) possible. Lots and lots of ‘can we stop the music now?’ towards the end of the story only to have the tempo speed up again.
Seanan blends many mythologies seamlessly (Japanese Kitsune interacting with Cait Sidhe, who are arguing with Selkie and Daoine Sidhe), although I haven’t yet met a Leprechan (that I can recall) or a Hawaiian Menehune. I have learned more about Celtic Mythology through reading these books than I ought to have from my heritage. She draws on stories such as Tam Lin and weaves them into challenges Toby and her friends face. (Up until a couple of years ago I had never heard the story of Tam Lin even though I knew the name. That is the sad state of my education.)
If anyone is looking for something that is fun to read and leaves you satisfied, pick up one of these books (or all of each series) and lose yourself in the pathways. You won’t regret it. Now, I am going to lose myself in the Tess Noncoire novel by P. R. Frost, Forest Moon Rising.
I’ll let you know what I think of it when I am done.