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Review of A Skinful of Shadows

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge Middle School, High School    Amulet/Abrams    415 pp. 10/17    978-1-4197-2572-2    $19.99 Hardinge’s (The Lie Tree, rev. 5/16) latest tour de force is set during the reign of King Charles I against the backdrop of the 1600s English Civil War and is, as unlikely as it sounds, something of a […]

Review of La Belle Sauvage

La Belle Sauvage [The Book of Dust] by Philip Pullman Intermediate, Middle School    Knopf    451 pp. 10/17    978-0-375-81530-0    $22.99 Library ed.  978-0-553-51072-0    $25.99 e-book ed.  978-0-553-51073-7    $11.99 Baby daemons are just as adorable as you’d think, and when it’s baby Lyra’s baby daemon we’re talking about — well, you could write a book. Set a […]

High Fantasy: A Wizard of Earthsea

by Eleanor Cameron A Wizard of Earthsea (Parnassus) by Ursula K. LeGuin received the 1969 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, given at the New England Round Table of Children’s Librarians, October, 1969.  It is never important to pigeonhole works of fiction nor insist that a certain book should belong, in a child’s estimation, in this category […]

Reviews of select books by Ursula K. Le Guin

Earthsea Ursula K. Le Guin  A Wizard of Earthsea [winner of the 1969 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award] 205 pp.     Parnassus Illustrated by Ruth Robbins. Maps by the artist show the islands and seas that make up Earthsea. Sparrowhawk, the son of a bronze-smith, was born on Gont, famous for wizards who had gone forth to […]

Fantastic(al) heroines of color

These new entries in YA speculative fiction series starring kickass young women of color explore perspectives on cultural and ethnic identity — while providing glimpses of (often frightening) potential futures and alternate realities grounded in our present. Ambelin Kwaymullina concludes The Tribe, her fantasy trilogy of what she terms “Indigenous futurism,” with The Foretelling of […]

Fashion-Forward Vampires and the Power of Humor in Genre Fiction

Mostly, my social interactions start out something like this: Them: Oh hello, what is it you do? Self: I’m a writer. Them: That’s cool, what do you write? Self: Commercial genre fiction. You know, science fiction, fantasy, romance, young adult. *Pause.* Self: It’s mostly funny. So. Hello. My name is Gail Carriger. I’m an author. […]

Magic Books

I am an author. But before I wrote books, I read them. My parents claim I made them read aloud the front matter — the publisher’s address, the Library of Congress data. In elementary school, I added ISBN numbers to the stories I wrote. Those numbers conveyed legitimacy, even if I didn’t know what ISBN […]

Review of Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor High School    Little, Brown    533 pp. 3/17    978-0-316-34168-4    $18.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-316-34164-6    $10.99 Lazlo Strange is a lowly librarian with a keen and singular interest in the mysterious city of Weep, which lost contact with the rest of the world over two […]

The Princess Bride: The “Good Parts”

You know those scarves that are all the rage, the ones covered in portions of text from a book? For once in my life, I feel fashionable, as a dear friend gave me one as a gift. I recognized the text pretty quickly as coming from a book I’ve loved since I was ten: William […]

At the bottom of my garden

Oh, I owe some of you fantasy writers an apology. Over on Twitter, I’ve been pretty hard on your  Capital Letters and apostrophes and archaisms and spelling. Mostly spelling, like “magick,” or, gilding the lily, “enmagick.” And then there’s faery. That’s a spelling that has been the fingernails on my personal chalkboard ever since chalkboards were […]