~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Recommended Reading: The Demon Lover, the Newsflesh trilogy, and Tamsin

The DemonLover, Juliet Dark. Juliet Dark is a pseudonym for literary mystery author Carol Goodman, whose books I’ve raved about here before. By “literary mystery” I really mean rich gothics: stories that involve the heroine’s physical and sometimes emotional isolation, evocatively described settings, a sense of dread or foreboding, and often a past mystery that needs to be solved. Yum. The Dark pseudonym is for her new trilogy (and who knows, maybe more?), which are billed as paranormal romance, but they aren’t, not really. Demon Lover is paranormal, absolutely, but not really a “romance” in the genre sense, in part because it’s a trilogy.

Anyway, I still loved it. It’s got an incubus and a witch and a Victorian house and a slightly creepy college in “upstate New York” (which is in quotes because it’s not really upstate upstate), and a heroine whose “lifelong passion is the intersection of lurid fairy tales and Gothic literature” (back cover copy). Oddly, the book I’ve just started writing has some of those elements. Or maybe not so oddly, because I love those elements, and gothics, and paranormals, and romances. If you do, too, you might very well like this book.

Blackout, Mira Grant. I’ve been remiss in keeping up with these posts, so I don’t think I’ve actually recommended Feed and Deadline, the first two books in this trilogy. Let’s just make this about all of them, shall we?

Mira Grant is the pseudonym for Seanan McGuire, whose urban fantasies I’ve rave about there before. (Apparently it’s been my month for pseudonymous author I rave about.) She went with a pseudonym because these are more science fiction/horror. They’re about biologically created zombies.

If you’d told me I’d willingly read a zombie book, much less enjoy it, I’d’ve laughed. I really don’t get the whole zombie phenomenon. (Which is not to say there’s anything wrong with it—I’m simply more partial to ghosts, witches, and fairies than I am zombies, vampires, and werecreatures. If it’s a good book about any of those things, I’ll give it a try.)

These are good books. Give them a try. Grant/McGuire’s magical power is the ability to create characters that really feel like real people. She also creates believable situations—she researched the epidemiology of how the zombie virus works—and talk about page-turning cliffhangers, hoo boy. If you’re up all night reading these books, don’t blame me. But read them.

Tamsin, Peter S. Beagle. I first read Tamsin when we lived in Wales, and I reread it earlier this year in preparation for Phoenix Comicon, where Beagle was a guest. I’d intended to have him autograph it, but instead I caved and bought the deluxe DVD/Blu-Ray edition of The Last Unicorn. (What can I say? I’m weak when I get all fangirly.)

I’d forgotten how good Tamsin is, which was in some ways nice because it felt like I was experiencing all the wonder for the first time. Although the protagonist, Jenny, starts the book at age fourteen, it’s not a YA book (although it could certainly be read by YA readers). Jenny’s perfectly content with her life in NYC with her mother, her cat Mister Cat, her friends, etc. Then her mother has to go and fall in love with a British guy who hauls them off to a farm in Dorset, along with his two sons. When I was growing up, this would have sounded like pure freaking heaven (and it still does, in many ways!), but not so much to Jenny. Jenny’s miserable but not bitchy; she’s unhappy but not unhelpful. She has a fantastic voice, too, and as she teeters on the brink of womanhood, she finds both the wondrous magic and terrible evil the world contains.

Beagle is a master storyteller, and Tamsin is just about perfect. If it weren’t for the tottering piles of books in my To Read bookcase, I’d be likely to pick this back up and reread it right now….


Phaedra said...

Having just started (FINALLY!) reading the October Daye series, I listened to Seanan on Writer's RoundTable Podcast and learned about the Mira Grant series. And if YOU like them? Hell, they're now on my kindle list!

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

I saw your link to Seanan's podcast - I want to listen to it! The Newsflesh books are very different from both October Daye and InCryptid - much darker - but the core writing is just as strong. You'll love 'em!