#FridayReads 2020-11-06 – ‘Black Sun’, ‘Every Dead Thing’, and ‘Zenith Man’

This week, I’m starting two series, one is a fantasy where the first book was published last month and the other is a thriller series that started in 1999 and is still going strong. Alongside those two, I’m reading a short story from the Amazon Original Story Heritage collection.

‘Black Sun’ by Rebecca Roanhorse (2020)

Rebecca Roanhorse has been taking the speculative fiction world by storm over the past three years with short stories and novels that take indigenous peoples as their jumping off points into how things might be. She won a Nebula in 2017 for her short story Welcome To Your Authentic Indian Experience which you can find here. I first read her in 2018 when she published her first novel, Trail of Lightning (Book 1 in the Sixth World Series). It won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and was a Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Finalist. in 2019, I read the second book in the Sixth World series Storm of Locusts, in 2019. It was a Locus Award Finalist and was longlisted for the Hugo Award.

So, when I saw that she was starting a new series, I pre-ordered it and now. after having it in my library for three weeks, I finally have the time to listen to it.

The Sixth World series looked at a post-apocalyptic America where the Gods of the Navaho are taking an active part in shaping events. Black Sun takes the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas as a starting point.

Here’s what the publisher’s summary says

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

I’m expecting something original and epic.

Every Dead Thing by John Connolly (1999)

John Connolly is an Irish writer who splits his time between Dublin and Portland, Maine. He’s the author of more than thirty novels including eighteen Charlie Parker novels.

After having hung around outside, listening to other people having fun at the Charlie Parker party, I finally decided to head inside and see for myself what the appeal is. Even though I’m two decades late, I’ve started with the first Charlie Parker book, ‘Every Dead Thing’, published in 1999. 

The writing is accomplished and vivid. The storytelling is skilfully non-linear, with past and present swirling together in Parker’s mind like water from different streams hitting a river. It’s effortless, vivid, and compelling. It’s also gruesome, violent, seedy and soaked in despair and ripe with regret. 

Parker is a strange narrator. I see everything through his eyes, either as it happens or as a memory. I see it up close and in detail with, apparently very little being hidden, although some of it is artfully revealed, yet I still have no feeling for who Charlie Parker is. He seems to keep his emotions locked in a steel box somewhere at the back of his mind. Occasionally I think I hear something rattling back there but I don’t know if it’s trying to get out or just settling in place.

From the little I’ve read already, I’d say ‘All The Dead Things’ is showing its age a little, especially in its fascination with the details of the serial killer’s violence. It’s also o little long, perhaps because it’s carrying the burden of establishing the backstory and character of the man the series will be built around.

‘Zenith Man’ by Jennifer Haigh (2019)

Jennifer Haigh is an award-winning American novelist and short story writer based out of Boston. She’s written six novels, each of which explores tensions and challenges in modern day America, mainly in Boston and Pennsylvania.

‘Zenith Man’ is a short story about privacy and secrets and rumours. Here’s the publisher’s summary:

‘Neighbors are shocked when Harold Pardee reports his wife dead. No one even knew the eccentric TV repairman was married. Within hours, horrible rumors spread about what that poor woman must have endured for thirty years. Until the Pardees’ carefully guarded world is exposed. New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Haigh delivers an endearing short story about our misguided perception of strangers, the nature of love, and the need for secrets.’

I’m hoping for a memorable piece of fiction and an introduction to a new author.

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