I’ve been promising some rapid book reviews for today, and I’m here to deliver. If you’ve read some of my recent blog posts, you may have an inkling on some of my general impressions already, but don’t worry, I’ve got plenty to share.
This is my second RBR post, and I’m still testing some things out, so opinions are welcome, on both books and blog post structure 🙂 As with the first one, however, I will be keeping this spoiler-free.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
This urban fantasy novel focuses on a young woman named Bree as she learns about magic that is hidden from the rest of the world, focusing primarily on those connected to the ancient Round Table and King Arthur with his knights. It’s an eye-opening book about spaces and stories that are not always as welcoming of diverse voices as they may outwardly appear. Swept away as I was, I definitely don’t regret giving it five stars.
- Pacing: Legendborn is no puny narrative, but there were always things going on. There were more than a few life-or-death scenes, and even the ones where Bree’s life was not in imminent danger, there was enough of undercurrent tension to keep me reading.
- Characters: A few character trajectories end up being a little predictable, but overall, most were allowed to live and breath, so to speak, in their own little world. Bree’s character never gets truly lost in the new magic world she steps in, and the hard conversations the reader gets to be privy to feel like legitimate conversations that could happen in real life.
- World: It’s so interesting to see several different ways to practice magic, with several different theories on how it works. As with many urban fantasy works, I’m left wondering why the “muggles” are left in the dark about the magical threats, but it’s become something of a staple in the genre so it’s not a huge deal.
Lovers of Arthurian Return tales will definitely want to pick this up. And, while there is a lot of world-building stuff to keep straight, fantasy readers well-acquainted with juggling several types of magic systems should have no trouble with this. It was certainly more of a genre read than a literary one, but those looking to step outside the “traditional” fantasy narratives and voices should look this up.
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
Oof. The second book in the Dresden Files follows Harry Dresden as he’s finally given another case, this time regarding some suspicious but really gruesome deaths that happened on the full moon. But because he lost a lot of trust in Storm Front, the case winds up getting really dangerous, really fast. You’d think that would make it more intriguing, but guys, I can’t. I tap out. I hated this book just as much as the first, and was even more confused. I only gave it two stars.
- Pacing: There’s only one case involved in this one, but Dresden gets super involved in it. The biggest thing I hated about the pacing, though, was that I couldn’t keep track of when all the murders were happening, which is going to be hugely important if you’re going to assume the murders are all done by some type of werewolf.
- Characters: I still hate Dresden. I cannot stand the whole I can’t tell them about XYZ because the knowledge is too dangerous (aka I like getting to play the hero). Yes, fine. I know there are in-world rules that make him hesitant to divulge specific information. But people keep dying or almost dying because of his withheld information, and at what point does one go, okay, they’re going to be in danger anyway, so let me arm them with info? Also. The way most of the characters are portrayed is almost cartoonish, and the portrayal of women specifically continues to grate on my nerves.
- World: Okay so as you can see from my above review, I am good at keeping various in-world magic systems straight in my head, but trying to remember the difference between a werewolf, a loup-garou, and literally like five other types of “werewolves” was absolutely impossible, and because the technicalities are critical to the story, I was not prepared.
I don’t really recommend this book to anyone. But I know these are popular books in certain circles, so… lovers of Dresden Files, I would love to know what exactly appeals to you about the series, because right now, I’m just not getting it.
A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell
A collection of short stories written by black women about black girl magic, it’s got a mix of science fiction, urban fantasy, and high fantasy. Basically, lovers of SFF who are sad because short stories in this genre is so hard to find can rejoice for having found a collection chock full of them. I rated it four stars.
- Major grievances: Several stories reveal the existence of magic halfway through the narrative, and because of word count restrictions, the characters come to believe in magic in a way that doesn’t always feel believable. Pacing is an issue not restricted just to the urban fantasy tales, but most poignantly found there.
- Favorite stories: For epic fantasy, “The Goddess Provides by L. L. Mckinney; for urban fantasy, “Tender-Headed” by Danny Lore; and for science fiction, “Sequence” by J. Marcelle Corrie.
Despite the grievances, most of the stories were quirky and fun to read. And sometimes it’s nice to get hit rapid-fire with stories that you can devour quickly. I’d recommend it to someone who’s feeling a little burnt out with fantasy, since they’re not lengthy behemoths of a narrative and because they experiment with tired tropes of the genre.