Tuesday, March 04, 2014

More Adult-Friendly YA Fantasy

Thanks to all who helped spread the word about the sale on Enchanted, Inc. It went as high as 214 on the Kindle bestseller list, but last time I checked it was on the way down again, so I may have peaked. It probably doesn't help that the publisher seems to have classified it as "humor" and it isn't showing up as fantasy at all, which makes it harder for readers to find it. Hmm, maybe this is what any problem in the first place might have been. Unfortunately, my agent is out of the hemisphere at the moment, so I can't get her to talk to the publisher about this and I don't currently have a direct contact.

But enough about my books. I want to talk about other people's books!

I went on a YA kick recently, but they were YA that didn't read as "YA" to me, so they're not only adult-friendly, but strongly recommended for adults.

First, there was Rachel Caine's latest, Prince of Shadows, which is the Romeo and Juliet story from the viewpoint of another character, fleshing things out and adding some behind-the-scenes explanations. Now that story makes so much more sense. We even learn why those two idiots fell so passionately in love after one meeting that they were willing to die for each other. Now I kind of want to re-read Romeo and Juliet with this in mind. What I was really impressed with, though, was the use of language. The narrative and dialogue definitely have that Shakespearian flavor while still being readable. These people talk in a way that sounds like the characters in the play, with the witty wordplay and colorful phrasing, but it's not at all like struggling through Shakespeare. I'm really not sure how she did that. I shall have to ask next time I see her. (I should probably put in a disclaimer that Rachel Caine is a personal friend -- I've been to her house often and even traveled with her and her husband -- but that doesn't affect my opinion of this book.)

And then the book I read on the wacky weather weekend, the first part in the springlike warmth on the patio and the second part snuggled under blankets during a sleet storm, was Hero by Alethea Kontiss. This is a follow-up to Enchanted, which I loved last year, though I think I like this one even more. This series is about the Woodcutter family -- the family all those fairy tales are about. This book is about Saturday, the tomboy daughter who's a bit miffed that her gift from their fairy godmother was an axe, not a magical power like all her sisters got. But then she finds herself having a great adventure and being in great danger when she's captured by a giant bird and taken to the mountain lair of a witch who wants to open a gateway to the demon world. The witch's other captive is a boy who's been enchanted to appear like the witch's daughter. The two of them know that they have to stop the witch, but doing so could endanger their own lives. I really liked these characters and felt for their dilemma. I didn't want this book to end, and the ending seemed to leave it open for a sequel, though it looks like the next book is about another sister. Maybe there will be a few books putting all the pieces on the board before tying up the larger plot.

These books remind me a lot of the 500 Kingdoms books by Mercedes Lackey, in that they use fairy tale elements woven together in often unexpected ways, with the characters somewhat aware that they're living in a fairy tale. I emerge from these books wishing I could stay in the world a little longer and wanting to write something that makes me feel this way.

Ooh, and fangirling pays off because I mentioned something about this on a Facebook post of someone who turned out to be a mutual friend, and Alethea Kontis posted this link of behind-the-scenes goodies and bonus material. Now I must go friend her and we'll become the very best of buddies in a not at all creepy fangirly stalkery way.

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