Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Vacation Reading

It's been a while since I talked about books, but I have done some reading recently, so here's a quick roundup:

A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn -- YA fantasy
This is a very fairy-tale feeling book, though not based on any actual tale I'm aware of. The heroine and her grandfather live a quiet life on the edge of a forest, with the only excitement coming when various nobles from the court come to visit or when mystical creatures in the woods encounter our heroine. It turns out that the grandfather is actually a former king in exile and that his daughter was one of many young women who went missing in the woods -- but the only one who came back (and came back pregnant). Now the heroine's father is looking for her, and it might give her a chance to get her revenge on the person who destroyed her family.

This book combined a lot of things I love -- fairy tales, dragons, mysterious birthrights and even some of the fae lore. It got a little oppressive at times because of the really tense situation the heroine was in, but I loved the way she handled it. There's a hint of romance that doesn't go quite the way you'd expect. It's very much a magical coming of age book, and while the plot is resolved, there's enough left unanswered or incomplete that I'm wondering if there will be a sequel.

Winterspell by Claire Legrand -- YA fantasy
This is sort of a bizarroland retelling of The Nutcracker. Or perhaps "inspired by" would be a better way of putting it. On Christmas Eve, the statue in her godfather's shop comes to life and carries Clara to a magical land, where it turns out he's a lost prince who was enchanted and exiled, and in his absence an evil fairy has taken over.

I might not have been quite the right audience for this book. I think I'd have eaten it up as a teen because it has all the teen catnip in it, but as an adult I noticed the teen catnip and found it kind of distracting because it sent me off down mental rabbit trails remembering some of the crazy things I found exciting as a teen that boggle the mind now. There's also this weird thing where the evil fairies taking over means the world got more industrialized, with trains and iron and steel everywhere, but iron is supposed to be poison to fairies and they're generally considered to be on the side of nature against industrialization. I suppose since fairies are fictional, that doesn't have to be true for fairies in every fictional universe, but since I've done a lot of research on that, I found it distracting. But if you know a teen who's enough into ballet to recognize the elements of the Nutcracker story and who likes steampunky fantasy adventure with a kickass heroine, this might be something she'd like.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison -- fantasy
When the emperor of the fairy realm and his sons are killed in an airship crash, the unlikely heir to the throne is the son the emperor tried to ignore, the one born to his goblin wife from an ill-fated political marriage. The half-breed boy has grown up in exile (hmm, exile seems to have been a reading theme), hidden away, but now he finds himself the emperor, and woefully underprepared for the job.

I picked this one up because it's had a lot of buzz, but I wasn't expecting to like it too much because it's mostly about political/court intrigue, and I really dislike that sort of thing. But it really grew on me because of the characters. I do like a good unlikely heir story, and it was fun reading about this character as he gradually figured out his role and how to carry it out. By the end, I was cheering for him and caught up in his story. Although there was a lot of court politics, it was all through his perspective, so it was really about survival and figuring out how to maintain his integrity. It ended up being a very feel-good story about a good person rising to an occasion. It wrapped up pretty well, but I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel because I'd like to see more about what this character does.

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