Intent: A Review of Blood Like Magic, by Liselle Sambury

            Witchcraft in fiction is an incredible variable, mutable tool in storytelling, although not every fantasy story, or story with magic present, contains witchcraft.  It is one of those things where no one can agree on a single definition, aside from witches mostly being female or female led.  Even region of the world has its own folklore regarding witches, going back thousands of years.  In some, witches are benevolent, helping their communities with potions and spells.  In others, witches made deals with the devil in the pursuit of power and influence.  While authors do pull on some of that, depending on where they decide to set their stories, the lack of a single definition of witchcraft allows writers to create new takes on it, iterating and innovating from story to story. 

Continue reading “Intent: A Review of Blood Like Magic, by Liselle Sambury”

Unending Legacy: A Review of Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho

We are all, regardless of background, part of an unending legacy, stretching back generations.  In some cases, those legacies are so intertwined with a specific place that they never branch out, never travel.  But, in other cases, those legacies spread across the globe.  Anyone from an immigrant family can attest to this feeling, of belonging to a culture or people that did not originate wherever you live.  For some immigrants, they try to hold onto this legacy and culture wherever they move, creating distinct communities within communities.  Others, however, prefer to do their best to assimilate—a process we call Americanization in this country—and allow their children to grow up as full members of their new nation.  But that does not erase the legacy that follows those children of immigrants, sometimes resulting in a situation where the children feel out of place everywhere they go.

Continue reading “Unending Legacy: A Review of Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho”

Collateral Damage: A Review of Battle Ground, by Jim Butcher

Battle Ground is the seventeenth novel in Jim Butcher’s long running series, The Dresden Files.  The previous novel, Peace Talks, only came out this past July, leaving only a two-month gap between novels.  Before that, book number 15, Skin Game, was released in May of 2014.  As one might imagine, it can prove difficult to keep an ongoing series like this interesting and fresh, especially when each novel is exclusively told in the first-person point-of-view of the main character, Harry Dresden.  At a certain point, the likelihood of burnout increases, until the author can find a way to reinvent the franchise and allow it to change.  What is interesting about The Dresden Files is that Battle Ground is actually the second such reinvention, an inevitably for something so massive.  And, depending on how far Butcher is willing to go, this may not even be the last time he makes some changes to the formula.

Continue reading “Collateral Damage: A Review of Battle Ground, by Jim Butcher”

Calm Before the Storm: A Review of Peace Talks, by Jim Butcher

            No discussion of urban fantasy is complete without The Dresden Files, the long-running series by Jim Butcher following the wizard Harry Dresden in modern-day Chicago.  In many ways a counterpoint to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, in more than just he titular character’s name, The Dresden Files made a name for itself in the early 2000’s as mixing noir and fantasy to create relatively realistic mysteries, working inside a set of magical rules Butcher created and stuck to.  Harry Dresden operated as a professional wizard and private investigator in a modern-day Chicago that does not believe in magic.  While may other authors wrote urban fantasy and fantasy detective fiction prior to Butcher, he popularized the mix and brought it the mainstream.

Continue reading “Calm Before the Storm: A Review of Peace Talks, by Jim Butcher”

I ♥ NYC: A Review of The City We Became, by N. K. Jemisin

While this blog has been, and always will be, a great proponent of fantasy, most of the fantasy novels I have reviewed skew towards variations of high fantasy.  Almost all take place in an alternate world; that is, not Earth in the present day or accurate history.  For many authors, creating an entirely new world can actually be much easier than trying to base your fantasy in the real world.  By creating your own world, you set the rules.  Magic works, or does not work, as you see fit.  However, even in these fantastical lands, authors are still able to talk about modern issues, usually through coded language and stand-ins.  For example, the Na’vi in the film Avatar are used as a stand-in for the many indigenous tribes of North America around the time of European colonization.  However, urban fantasy is a different beast altogether.  By using the real, modern-day world, such subjects can be tackled head-on, without euphemism or substitution.

Read the Rest!

Soul Flight: A Review of The Nightjar, by Deborah Hewitt

Fantasy is a malleable genre, with one of the more popular variations in the last several decades being the urban fantasy.  Combining the realism of our magic free world with the trappings of high fantasy has proven to be a fascinating juxtaposition.  Imagine a seedy mob-run nightclub in a bustling city, serving a clientele of elves and ogres.  Goblins operate as drug runners and wizards assist the police with investigative magic.  With urban fantasy, the two worlds may be completely combined, or kept separate through shadowy cabals or government organizations.  The fantasy elements may also be as high or as low as the author wishes.  While The Dresden Files may be one of the more famous examples of low urban fantasy, other authors are rising up to take its place.  The Nightjar, by Deborah Hewitt, is one such novel.

Read the Rest!