Late June Reviews (2021)

Welcome to the Books That Burn Fortnightly Roundup! Releasing every two weeks (one week early for Patrons). Remember to head to Transcripts That Burn for all available transcripts of the podcast.

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I’m currently in the middle of three books, THE NEVER TILTING WORLD (2020) by Rin Chupeco , A RIVER OF ROYAL BLOOD (2019) by Amanda Joy, and THE POETIC EDDA (2019 / very old) translated by Carolyne Larrington. The EDDA won’t get a standard review because it’s a translation of poetry from Norse mythology, but you can look for reviews of the other two in the next edition of the Fortnightly Roundup.

I had a few books I didn’t finish. I had forgotten how much casual sexism is in the framing device of THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING (1939) by T.H. White, and put it down a few chapters in. From now on I’ll probably read more modern retellings of Arthurian tales, though I do remember loving this particular one as a kid. I also attempted a middle-grade fantasy, PAOLA SANTIAGO AND THE RIVER OF TEARS (2020) by Tehlor Kay Mejia. I’ve read her young-adult fantasy previously and liked it, so it might just be that this one was too young for me. Finally, I accepted that as much as I love Malinda Lo’s fantasy work, I just couldn’t follow her into the sapphic historical young adult novel that is LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB (2021). I need to accept that I have a 50% DNF rate for non-magical, non-thriller YA, and just stop trying to read them for a while.

This fortnight I read three adult fantasy books, one of which was new to me, the others were either continuing or finishing series I’d started before. THE MIME ORDER (2015) is the second book of a planned seven in The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (Here’s my review of book one, THE BONE SEASON (2013)). It’s a slow burn fantasy set in an alternate version of the 2050’s (the history obviously split back in Victorian times, so the timelines diverged from ours a while ago). Each volume is long, it’s the kind of book you plan to take a while to read and really enjoy it. This author does slow burn really well, for something a little more sapphic with dragons, try THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE (2019), which is a stand-alone novel by the same author that might eventually get a sequel since people keep asking for one.

REALM OF ASH (2019) by Tasha Suri completes the fantasy duology begun in EMPIRE OF SAND (2018). The duology as a whole is about generational grief after decades of slow attritional genocide, and REALM OF ASH in particular is about being cut off from one’s heritage and trying to reclaim the tattered scraps of it, in this case through inherited magic.

THE UNBROKEN (2021) by C.L. Clark is a tale of colonialization, uprising, and a stolen child returning to her homeland as a conscripted soldier ordered to bring it to heel. It’s a colonizer/colonized romance in places, but it spends much more time dealing with the implications and complications of that dynamic than it does actually having romance. Given the fraught nature of that kind of setup, I enjoyed this take on it immensely. It’s the first volume of a series and was released just this year, so I’ll be looking for the next book in the series in a year or two.

I also read some YA this time around, both of the thriller and fantasy varieties. THE RAVEN KING (2016) by Maggie Stiefvater concludes the four-part series The Raven Cycle. This is a solid conclusion to a great quartet, and the author does an amazing job of writing dynamic and distinct teenage characters who feel like teens. It’s chock full of magic, and would be especially enjoyed by someone who (unlike myself) actually might know what the tarot cards mean when they’re used in various plot-related prophecies and foretellings. If you’d like to read the whole series, start with THE RAVEN BOYS (2012).

The thriller I read was ACE OF SPADES (2021) by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. It’s a dark academia thriller thriller where two high-achieving students (the only two Black kids at an otherwise all-white school) suddenly have everything they thought they knew come crashing down after a mysterious texter begins revealing their secrets one by one.

As for the podcast, hopefully you’re enjoying our most recent episode, BLACK SUN BY REBECCA ROANHORSE, as well as the first half of our interview with author Sara Codair, released back in June. If you’d like to receive the second (spoiler-filled) half of the interview, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Patrons receive this newsletter one week early, as well as a list of upcoming podcast episodes for the next three months.

Thanks for reading, the next roundup will be in two weeks!


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