Monday, January 18, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/16

Welcome to Monday morning! (If you're reading this sometime later, welcome to whenever it is now, you slacker.)

I got some books in the mail last week, and these are they. I haven't read any of them yet, but here's what I can tell you about them from having them sit next to my desk for several days:

Token of Darkness is a new fantasy novel for young adults by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, whom the cover letter goes to great pains to mention has been writing supernatural books for teens since 1999. (Unspoken, but just beneath the surface, is the "and all of us here think she's massively better than those lousy Twilight books from that other publishing house.") I vaguely remember her name -- possibly because her first book, a vampire novel called In the Forests of the Night, was published when she was just 15. Token of Darkness will be published on February 8th by Random House Children's Books, under the Delacorte imprint. (And I have to admit that I have no idea how Random decides which children's books are Knopf, and which are Delacorte, or whatever else, or why they use the same imprints as some of the adult groups and still maintain a separate structure.) Token's hero is a high school football star who was in a deadly car accident -- not deadly to him, I gather, but to some unspecified non-football-star person -- after which he was able to see a pretty ghost named Samantha. As usual, this thrusts him into the secret supernatural world that he never knew existed, including several others from his own high school with amazing powers of their own. I may not be particularly impressed, because my experience with high school football stars is that more of them should have been in deadly car accidents, which would have made things much nicer for the rest of us. But I am a nasty cynic, whose opinion should be ignored.

Moving on to books for adults, Black Blade Blues is the first book in an urban fantasy series about a blacksmith who also makes props for movies and does medieval reenactment. (Sounds like a modern version of a Unknown Worlds protagonist -- you might get unexpectedly shunted into a different dimension where magic works and swordplay rules, but, luckily, magic is just like the poetry you've memorized scads of and your college fencing club experience is just what you need.) Our multi-talented heroine here is Sarah Beauhall, and her scribe is J.A. Pitts. (And it's a sign of how female-dominated urban fantasy is that these initials hide a man named John. Or maybe someone thought that a series about a lesbian -- there's a reference to Sarah's girlfriend on the back cover -- might not be taken as well coming obviously from a man.) Presumably, all of Sarah's talents will soon be needed, after she discovers dwarfs and shape-shifting dragons in the modern world. Black Blade Blues is coming in hardcover -- which is fairly unusual for a debut urban fantasy -- from Tor in April.

(To the right is what I think is the cover art for this book, by Dan Dos Santos. It certainly looks like the description in the book, and "Black Blade Blues" is in the image title, but I found it through pure Google-Fu, and so I make no claims to its accuracy. And there's obviously no type on it yet.)

Up Jim River is the new novel from Michael Flynn, featuring characters called things like "The Hound Bridget ban" and "her daughter, the harper Mearana" and " the scarred man, Donovan." It also features a major journey up a river, which is likely meant to invoke Huckleberry Finn or Heart of Darkness or (shudder) both. I've liked most of the stories by Flynn that I've read, but I'm several novels behind, and this one looks to be more ornamented, in prose and plot, than usual for him, as if he were trying his hand at a medium-future planetary adventure novel a la Jack Vance. It's coming from Tor as an April hardcover as well.

And last for this week is a big anthology of original stories: Warriors, edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois. It's got twenty new stories about fighting from some usual suspects -- Martin himself, S.M. Stirling, Robin Hobb, Naomi Novik, Tad Williams -- and some less usual, such as Lawrence Block. It's coming from Tor as a major hardcover in March.

1 comment:

James Davis Nicoll said...

It also features a major journey up a river, which is likely meant to invoke Huckleberry Finn or Heart of Darkness or (shudder) both.

AHHHHHHH! Even if that's not what this book is about, now you've put the idea out there for other authors.

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