Witchmark by C. L. Polk

Miles is the son of a politically connected mage who sits atop the secret magical hierarchy that keeps Aeland stable and functioning, but he is reluctant to “do his duty” to the family and take his place as a Secondary to his sister. In Aeland, Secondaries are mages who have less obvious talent despite having a large pool of innate magic; thus, they are magically bound as glorified thralls to their Primary mage. Witches, low-class mages, are “known” to go mad and are sent to insane asylums in the countryside. Given that Miles has shucked off his connections to his family name, he risks just that fate if anyone at his psychiatry practice discovers his magical aptitude. Although his family would protect him if he were found out, it would mean becoming his sister’s magical slave.

Triton by Samuel R. Delany

Triton, also published under Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia, by Samuel R. Delany is one hell of a trip and surprisingly relevant to modern day discourse on gender and sex. Originally written as a response to Le Guin’s The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia, Delany explores what it might be like to experience a progressive, open society as a very traditional, masculine male with conservative ideas about the roles and capabilities of men and women. Where Le Guin explored life as someone who is LGBT+ in a predominantly straight “utopia,” Delany explores the inverse.

The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan

The Gutter Prayer is a somewhat challenging review for me. On one hand, there were tons of things about this book that I adored. The city of Guerdon has been lovingly, hauntingly crafted. Ghouls roam the streets and rule the crypts, slowly growing fat on the souls of the dead, guarding the gates that hold back a tide of shapeless horrors. The Crawling Ones create strange half-lifes for those who choose to give themselves over to the worms. The Stone Men battle against their plague every day, fighting calcification and seeking one more – just one more! – shot of alkahest to keep the stone at bay. And yet, despite all this… it didn’t quite click. I struggled to connect to the characters, rendering major climaxes and gut punches emotionless. 

Christmas Advent: Short Story Edition! (Part 2)

For the month of December, Short Fiction Friday is being upgraded to feature daily stories as part of an advent calendar exchange I’m running with a friend! Every week, Black Forest Basilisks will be shining a spotlight on each of the short stories, novelettes, or flash fics that we exchanged for each day of advent.Continue reading “Christmas Advent: Short Story Edition! (Part 2)”

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear

My first introduction to Elizabeth Bear was on the fantasy side with The Stone in the Skull, which I loved. I came in with high expectations for both prose and character development, and I’m pleased to say that Ancestral Night lived up to all my hopes on both counts! Where The Stone in the Skull had multiple points of view and broad-spanning political themes, Ancestral Night keeps things closer to home by following only one character: a traumatized young engineer named Haimey, who is part of the crew on a space salvage rig with a shipmind AI called Singer, a rather unfairly good-looking pilot, and two absolutely delightful cats named Mephistopheles and Bushyasta. 

Christmas Advent: Short Story Edition! (Part 1)

For the month of December, Short Fiction Friday is being upgraded to feature daily stories as part of an advent calendar exchange I’m running with a friend! Every week, Black Forest Basilisks will be shining a spotlight on each of the short stories, novelettes, or flash fics that we exchanged for each day of advent. All of these stories will be available online for free. 

The Hanged Man by KD Edwards

You know what’s a great feeling? When you love a book, start up the sequel, and discover that the sequel takes everything you loved in the first book and makes it even better. KD Edwards has nailed his voice in The Hanged Man, and has given us even more and even better character interactions. Brand and Rune are still the ultimate bromance, and Addam is still the kind and caring partner Rune needs and deserves. Max, Quinn, Ciaran… everything you wanted and more. Absolute cinnamon rolls, all of them – and the new characters are similarly great.