Sleeps With Monsters: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

A new column over at Tor.com:

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power showcases a variety of powerful women, making a variety of different choices about what to do with their power. This is a show with an argument to make about community and responsibility, and being honest about (and responsible for) one’s choices.

Sleeps With Monsters: Epic Fantasy and Feminism in THE WOMEN’S WAR and THE RUIN OF KINGS

A new post over at Tor.com:

Who doesn’t like epic fantasy? And feminist epic fantasy, at that?

The Women’s War by Jenna Glass and The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons are both opening volumes in new epic fantasy series. I read them one after the other, and can’t help comparing their approaches to feminism—because both of them set themselves within oppressive societies. And yet, though The Women’s War spends more of its time with female main characters and sets itself amid a violent struggle for the liberation of (some) women in a rigidly patriarchal society, I found The Ruin of Kings more inclusive and more persuasive—more liberatory—in its approach to a patriarchal society.

SONG OF THE DEAD by Sarah Glenn Marsh

A new review over at Tor.com:

Song of the Dead is the sequel to Sarah Glenn Marsh’s debut Reign of the Fallen. I reviewed Reign of the Fallen here last year and enjoyed its voice and approach, though I found its pacing uneven, and its treatment of relationships not quite up to the highest mark, but it had voice in spades, and engaging characterisation.

Song of the Dead shares some of Reign of the Fallen’s flaws, but also its virtues.

A LABYRINTH OF SCIONS AND SORCERY by Curtis Craddock

A new review over at Tor.com:

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (2018), the first volume in Curtis Craddock’s The Risen Kingdoms series, was an extremely accomplished fantasy novel. It combined intrigue, adventure, and swashbuckling in a setting filled with airships and floating kingdoms, ancient religion, lost knowledge, and powerful magic. Its politics bore the influence of Renaissance Europe while its narrative approach held something of the flair of Alexandre Dumas. An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors set a strikingly high bar for any sequel to follow.

Fortunately, A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery more than meets that bar. It’s just as good as its predecessor—if not better.

Sleeps With Monsters: Queering Classic Fantasy Stories

A new post over at Tor.com:

New year, new queer! If that’s not a catchphrase somewhere, it ought to be, and—as you may have guessed—queerness is the element that unites the stories I want to talk about this week. The presence of queer women in the stories I read is becoming so delightfully frequent as to begin to feel unremarkable, and I’m really enjoying this current state of affairs. It’s not something I feel I can allow myself to get used to, because it was a rarity for years.

 

 

Sleeps With Monsters: Phyllis Ann Karr’s Sword and Sorcery Novels

A new post over at Tor.com:

Recently, Sonya Taaffe chanced to mention Phyllis Ann Karr in one of her blog posts. Karr has never been a prolific author of science fiction and fantasy, and she remains best-known for her Arthurian murder-mystery The Idylls of the Queen and for the pair of fantasy novels, first published in the 1980s, which I’m going to talk about here: Frostflower and Thorn (1980) and Frostflower and Windbourne (1982).

Sleeps With Monsters: Swords and Salvage

A new post over at Tor.com:

It seems appropriate to talk about Melissa Scott’s Finders and Ursula Vernon’s (writing as T. Kingfisher) Swordheart together. Although in terms of setting and tone they’re very different books—Finders is a space opera with elements of a thriller, a fast-paced adventure story that ends up shaped like an epic; Swordheart is a sword-and-sorcery story with a romance at its centre—they share an interest in relationships and in consequences, and in a certain underpinning of kindness that unites them despite their otherwise disparate elements.

 

Sleeps With Monsters: Jumping Into C.J. Cherryh’s Alliance-Union Books

A new post over at Tor.com:

A little while ago, I received an ARC of Alliance Rising, C.J. Cherryh’s collaboration with her spouse Jane Fancher, set in Cherryh’s Alliance-Union continuity—the universe of Cherryh’s acclaimed Downbelow Station (1981) and Cyteen (1988). While I tried to read Downbelow Station years ago, before I understood the rhythms of Cherryh’s work, Alliance Rising is the first work in this particular setting that I’ve ever finished. It spurred me to find a couple more—the omnibuses Alliance Space and The Deep Beyond, available in ebook form—to see just how representative Alliance Rising is of the works in this setting.

Sleeps With Monsters: More Stories With Queer Women

A new column over at Tor.com (though it’s last week’s, because I’m behind in everything due to moving house):

Let’s start with a novel, the humorous and playful Daughter of the Sun by Effie Calvin, published by Nine Star Press. Daughter of the Sun is Calvin’s second novel, after The Queen of Ieflaria, and it’s a much more forthrightly humorous work, one with a fine eye for the ridiculous and a deep sense of compassion about human nature, and human (or human-adjacent) weakness.

Sleeps With Monsters: Angels and Demons

A new post over at Tor.com:

f I were a cleverer sort of person, I’d find a nice thematic commonality that links Molly Tanzer’s Creatures of Want and Ruin and Juliet Kemp’s The Deep and Shining Dark, two books that I want to tell you about this month, and spin a persuasive line on why they’re connected (when really, I’m talking about them together because I read them back-to-back). But while they share a concern with community (communities) and with the bargains one might make with intangible powers, they approach these concerns in ways that are sufficiently different that I’m hard-pressed to find any other points of commonality.

LIES SLEEPING by Ben Aaronovitch

A new review over at Tor.com:

Lies Sleeping is the latest instalment in Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series of magical murder mysteries, set in London and featuring a London Metropolitan police force that really doesn’t want to have to admit that magic exists. Lies Sleeping is the seventh full-length novel in a series that also encompasses several graphic novels and at least one novella. Peter Grant’s London has depth, breadth, and a complex array of recurring characters, and every one of the novels can be relied on to start with a bang.

 

EMPIRE OF SAND by Tasha Suri

A new review over at Tor.com:

Empire of Sand is an astonishingly accomplished debut, set in a richly realised world. It’s a novel about power and about colonialism. It’s a novel about unequal power relationships, and about the abuse of power. It’s a novel about trust and its lack, about choices and compromises. And at its heart, it’s a novel about compassion: about the risks, and the rewards, of choosing to be kind.

CITY OF ASH AND RED by Hye-Young Pyun

A new review over at Tor.com:

Though the author previously won the Shirley Jackson Award for her The Hole, City of Ash and Red belongs in the literature genre, I feel, rather than in the SFF one. It’s involved in an entirely different project than the usual run of speculative fiction novels: its concerns and its tools are literary ones. It’s a well-constructed, elegant novel whose translator has done an excellent job: the prose is deft and eloquent, the sentences compelling, the voice distinctive.

I disliked it intensely