This week, I’m diving back in to Fantasy Fiction. It’s a genre that doesn’t always work for me. I have no appetite for multi-tome descriptions about the eternal struggle between The Dark and The Light that always seem heavy on sacrifice and close combat but short on the benefits of winning. I need something that shakes up the old tropes a little. Maybe adding a little bit of dark humour or feminist fury. I’m hoping that this week’s choices will do both.
One book is by a Canadian author who is new to me. It’s the first book in a new series and it was a staff pick from the new releases at Waterstones in Liverpool.
The other book is by an Australian author whose Urban Fantasy series worked for me but who has also turned her hand to a tale of witchcraft and persecution.
‘The Malevolent Seven’ by Sebastien De Castell (2023)
The marketing for this had readers like me in its crosshairs. The clever title made me smile. My first glance at the cover sold me on the book being modern, cinematic and stylish in a I-know-seeing-seven-heroes-walk-shoulder-to-shoulder-in-slo-mo-is-a-cliché-but-that’s-OK-when-we-know-that-you-know-it’s-cliché way. My second glance at the cover had me going – ‘Wait… is one of the Malevolent Seven a fox?’. The first page was full of snark and So-we’re-mercenaries!-What’s-wrong-with-that? swagger.
I’m hoping that’s there’s a good plot and some engaging characters beneath the marketing gloss.
‘Of Sorrow And Such’ by Angela Slatter (2015)
Of Sorrow And Such has been on my TBR pile since I read Vigil, the first Verity Fassbinder book. I love the cover and the title. The content is far away from Verity Fassbinder’s alternate Brisbane, which I’m taking as a sign that this novella was a project of the heart for Angela Slatter. I also like the fact that it’s a novella. Martha Wells’ Murderbot series and P Djèli Clark’s Cairo series have shown me how powerful this format can be for evoking a new world.