Monday, June 23, 2014

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 6/21

Hey, here's two books that might interest some of you. They showed up in my mailbox serendipitously -- which here means "I haven't read them, and don't know much about them" -- but may turn out to be your favorite books of the year. Who knows?

Speaking of words that mean very specific things in the right context: "in the tradition of" is a phrase used in publishing to mean "if you liked that, you'll probably like this" -- it doesn't necessarily mean the new writer was specifically influenced by the older one at all. So if I say that Emily Croy Barker's first novel The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic looks to be in the tradition of Deborah Harkness's very popular recent trilogy, I'm not claiming any specific influence. (And I'm clearly not the only one that sees the connection, since there's a quote from Harkness on the cover of Thinking Woman.) The Thinking Woman in this case is named Nora: she wanders away from a wedding and accidentally is transported into a secondary world where, of course, magic works. And that world at first seems vastly better to Nora -- until things turn more dangerous, as they always must. Thinking Woman is a penguin trade paperback: it officially goes on sale July 29.

The other book I have this week is not quite a first novel -- but it's a first fantasy novel, which is pretty close. Susan Klaus has published two thrillers with a smaller publishing company, but Flight of the Golden Harpy is her first novel in "the bigs," as we in publishing never actually say. It's in the category of fantasy that takes place on an alien world with intelligent, mostly humanoid aliens, whom the heroine has to prove to her fellow humans actually are intelligent. (There's also a romance plot between the heroine and one of the harpies, just in case you thought this was getting to close to Little Fuzzy.) Since Golden Harpy comes from a SF publisher (Tor -- in hardcover right now), I presume that means there are elements of magic or the supernatural as well, but those aren't clear in the cover letter.

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