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Wrap-Up: August 2018

 

 

  • Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott (★★★★★)
  • The Pawn by Skye Warren (★★★☆☆)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (★★★☆☆)
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells (★★★☆☆)
  • Bright We Burn by Kiersten White (★★★★★)
  • An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (★★★★☆)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (★★★★☆)
  • A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (★★★☆☆)
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte(★★★☆☆)
  • Not That Bad by Roxane Gay (★★★★★)
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (RTC)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 11
YEARLY SO FAR: 70

This has been a surprisingly productive month. I read way more books than I expected to, and a lot of them were books that were in my backlog, meaning I have been wanting to read them for a long, long time. I finally finished Jane Eyre (a book I started in March!), and I read three other classics to make up for that lost time. I got a couple of YA books in as well, one a new release (Bright We Burn), and the other an older release that has been on my list since it came out (An Enchantment of Ravens). I also got in literary, thriller, nonfiction, and even dipped my toes into the erotica/dark romance genre. And I read nearly everything that I had on my TBR post!

I haven’t actually finished Spinning Silver yet, but I’m 80% of the way through, so I’m sure I’ll be done by the end of my 90 minute commute, lol. I’ll try to get the review out before tomorrow, since I’ll be super busy preparing to leave for the airport, and I really want Goodreads to mark it as finished and reviewed in August. It’s also the only book I’m reading at the moment, which I did on purpose; I wanted to clear out everything before I leave for Egypt just so that I could feel organized and free to start whatever book I want.

I haven’t yet decided if I’m taking my laptop with me to Egypt, but if I don’t, I’ll probably vanish from here for two weeks, because my aunt, who we’re staying with, doesn’t actually have internet at all, so I’ll just be on my phone. But I might just take my computer in the end because I’m enrolled in three classes this semester and they’ve all started, so I’ll need access to Blackboard. Not to mention there might be some Fulbright stuff I have to finish up. I don’t like taking my laptop while traveling unless I absolutely have to, though, so we’ll see.

Mini TV Update: I am completely behind on everything I need to catch up on from last month, and yet somehow I managed to binge two whole other shows. One is called Safe, a British thriller starring Michael C. Hall which was really twisty, and the other is American Gothic, which was also a really twisty thriller/family drama. Both are on Netflix! I also started watching Father Brown; I’m only two episodes in but I’m already loving it. It’s about a Catholic priest who solves crimes. This isn’t even the only British show with a crime-solving clergyman lmao. It’s not even one of two (although the other one also takes place in the 1950s). Why are there so many British shows with crime-solving clergymen?

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Egypt Vacation (and September) TBR

I’m going to be in Egypt for the first two weeks of September! I’m super excited; I haven’t been in about two years. I will get to relax and visit family and the beach and the old bazaar, Khan al-Khalili. This is also my first year traveling with a Kindle, which should surely encourage me to read more than I normally do when traveling!

I don’t know how much time I’ll have in Egypt to read; I don’t really know if we’ll be busy or not. But, there are still two 10-hour plane rides to think about! Oddly enough, I find it difficult to read on planes; I get weirdly distracted. Therefore, for the plane, I have specifically picked out books that I am almost certain I will love, books that have rave reviews and will surely suck me in. For my time on the beach, I’ve picked some books that I think will fit the ~aesthetic~ of being on the beach, not necessarily light or fluffy reads. And then I have a few autumnal books for the rest of the month!

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Plane Reads

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I don’t think I have heard a single negative thing said of this book. Nearly everyone I know has loved it, and Booktubers sing its praises. It’s said to be a beautiful love story, a tear-jerker, a page-turner, a kind-of thriller, a gorgeously spun tale that grips you from the first page and doesn’t let go. Sounds like exactly what I need for a lengthy plane ride!

Vicious by V.E. Schwab: I feel like I’m the last fantasy fan in existence who hasn’t read this book. You wanna talk about praise? People talk about this book like it’s God’s gift to literature. I’m always a tiny bit underwhelmed by Schwab’s novels, but not because they aren’t fantastic. It’s just that they are hyped so damn much that I always think I’m going to be reading something unimaginable and life-changing, and then it just turns out to be a really good book. So I’m trying to temper my expectations, but this seems to be one of the most beloved books she’s ever written. Also, I kind of waited this long to read it on purpose, so that the sequel would be nearly out by the time I finish, so that I don’t forget anything.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White: I am SO HYPE for this book. I read Frankenstein specifically so that I could read this. White is so good at historical fiction. I read the first page of this and I already love the writing style. One of my qualms with Frankenstein was that we didn’t really get to see much of the women, so I’m so excited to have a book from the perspective of Elizabeth Lavenza!


Beach Reads

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: I have also been purposely waiting to read this book until the sequel was near! I’ve been seeing so many fabulous reviews of it recently in particular, so I think it’s about time I get around to it. Plus I’m really in the mood for gorgeous writing and strange happenings.

The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews: I stumbled upon this Victorian romance completely by chance, as I was googling Victorian women’s fashion. The author has her own website where she talks about fashion and she has a nonfiction book coming out all about Victorian fashion! She seems like someone who would write a decent book. I’ve been trying to expand my horizons and read more romance, plus I’ve been getting more and more obsessed with the Victorian era. It’s quite short, so hopefully it’ll be good!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: How old is this book? Am I the only person left who hasn’t read it? It’s hailed as the Thriller to End All Thrillers (in YA, at least), and I’m so curious to see what it’s about! I have somehow managed to avoid learning anything about this book, not even a cursory summary; I just know it’s a mind-twisting page-turner, which should be perfect for chilling in my hotel room at night.


Later That Month

 

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: Yet another popular book I haven’t read! I’m planning on buddy reading this with Rachel, perhaps in late September? Again I know very little about this (something about a Welsh king??), but I’m looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss: This book is precisely why this month I have endeavored to read so many classics. It is because the major characters in this book are all the female relatives of the male characters in popular classics – so Jekyll’s daughter, Moreau’s daughter, etc. I like Goss’s short fiction and have heard great things about this book. Plus it’s a Victorian novel!

Miserere, an Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock: I  can’t even tell you how I found this weird, obscure book. Like, it’s so weird. It’s some type of medieval tale about a dude who abandons his lover in Hell to bring his sister back, but his sister is evil and doesn’t want to leave Hell. I have literally no idea what to expect from this book, but as I said, I’ve been trying to expand my horizons. That includes reading books that aren’t so popular or that seem just a bit weird; you never know when you might stumble upon a hidden gem!

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Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Bookish Maps

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm. This week’s topic:

AUGUST 28TH – Top 5 Bookish Maps

Yo. YO. Have I ever mentioned my obsessive love for maps of all kinds? I have so many maps hanging in my room, I’m always looking to buy more, and I spend way more time than I need to on Google Maps. I JUST LOVE MAPS. There is noting that annoys me more than when a fantasy book does not contain a map. I’m a visual person; I need that map to help me make sense of a story. Plus there are some maps that are illustrated so brilliantly that they’re just great to look at, you know? And as an aspiring writer of fantasy, I’m always crafting my own maps, clumsy though they may be!

I am SO excited for this topic, so excited that I  couldn’t pick only five and had to whittle it down to eight, which are ranked in order of preference, with my absolute favorite coming in at the end of the post, at #1. Click on the maps to enlarge, y’all, I spent so long hunting down high-quality maps lmao!

Oh, also: SHOUT OUT to two maps that didn’t make it onto this list not because I don’t love them, but because they’re so popular and well-known and I wanted to spotlight something else: the Grishaverse map and the map of the world of A Song of Ice and Fire. Both fantastic maps, especially the latter, which is hyper-realistic.

And now onto the maps!

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Number Eight (#8)

Say what you will about the Throne of Glass series, but the map is solid! Granted, it’s not super detailed and not terribly pretty, but there’s something soothing about its simplicity nonetheless! I also just like the shape of it.


Number Seven (#7)

I actually read an ARC of Children of Blood and Bone, so I did not get to experience this lovely map as I read! I didn’t end up enjoying this book, but I think the map is so cool. I love the detailed frame (I LOVE framed maps) and the way the structures are illustrated. There’s so many wonderful little details! And I also love that this world appears to be a set of islands strung together; it’s so unique.


Number Six (#6)

This map is deceptively simple. You have to really look at it twice to get a sense of all the details. There’s something very elegant about it, though, and I love the shading around the map! Sadly I didn’t love the book, so I won’t be continuing the series, but I still enjoy the map!


Number Five (#5)

I really love maps that span huge worlds. Even if the story only takes place in a single country, I love having a map that shows me the width and breadth of the entire world the characters are living in. I haven’t actually read Furyborn, so I don’t know if the story takes place across several countries, but I don’t even care – I love having all these nations there for context. And I like how elegant and simple this map is!


Number Four (#4)

This map barely came into play throughout the course of this lackluster book, but it’s still a really cool map. Even though the story only took place in one of these countries, the book referenced other places, and it was great to have this map as a point of reference. It also just looks really cool? Like, something about the way the continents are cut up just looks so visually appealing to me.


Number Three (#3)

This map is really simple, but I just adore it. Perhaps it’s because this is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time, or perhaps because it’s one of the first fantasy maps I truly fell in love with, but there’s just something about it that keeps drawing me back.


Number Two (#2)

God, I love this map so much! First, there’s a frame, and it’s so old-world and so elegant. Second, Susan Dennard said it’s based off off Croatia and the Adriatic, which you can definitely see, and I think that’s super cool. And look at those little sea monsters swimming!


Number One (#1)

And we come to the creme of the crop, what is probably the best fantasy map I have ever and will ever see in my entire freaking life. This is my favorite map of all time, y’all. OF ALL TIME. I’ve uploaded a full size version so you can click on it to enlarge and see all the wondrous, gorgeous details. This map ain’t playing around. This map is serious shit. First, there’s the frame, with busts of Aa’s four daughters as well as Niah and Aa himself. Gorgeous and a neat bit of worldbuilding to incorporate onto the map. Then here’s the incredibly detailed structures which hint at the cultures and architectural styles of each country. This map is SO BEAUTIFUL I think I literally almost cried the first time I saw it. Oh, and the map of the city of Godsgrave is nothing to sneeze at either. If anything, it’s actually more detailed than the map of Itreya. I love that we have a map of the whole world and then another, even more detailed map of the major city. LOVE IT. Like, it’s not just a map, it’s a visual representation of the world; it truly helps you picture the city. INCREDIBLE.

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Film Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

Jane_Eyre_PosterBrace yourself, Reader, for I am about to blaspheme:

This movie was better than the book.

Let’s back up for a minute. This is actually my second time watching this film. I first saw it way back when it came out in 2011 because even back then I would watch literally anything in Victorian England. I do remember that I liked it very much, but other than that I remembered almost nothing at all. So, when I finally decided to read Jane Eyre this year, I was very much looking forward to re-watching this film having read the novel. Unfortunately, as you know, the novel ended up being quite a disappointment to me, but I was still excited to watch the film.

It is such a gorgeous, atmospheric movie. Everything that the book was supposed to make me feel I felt while watching this film. I felt the barren isolation of the moors, the moodiness of Thornfield Hall after dark, the Gothic atmosphere of the tale. The film is beautifully shot, with wide-shot scenes of the moors and the English countryside that are absolutely breathtaking.

Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender both give brilliant performances.  Not to mention their chemistry is off the charts. In the novel, I never really felt the romance between Jane and Rochester, but in the film I could understand how drawn they were to each other. It was – dare I say it? – a swoon-worthy romance. Wasikowska is a fantastic Jane, stoic and resilient but with a barely concealed strength of spirit. Fassbender is brilliant as Rochester: he is alluring and magnetic and just a bit frightening. The characters were vividly brought to life by these performances.

And of course, I cannot end this review without talking about the music. The score, composed by Dario Marianelli, is utterly sublime. I’ve been listening to it nonstop since yesterday. I’m not musically inclined so I can’t talk about the particulars of the composition, but it is just such gorgeous music, the kind of music that brings tears to your eyes but feels uplifting at the same time. It’s almost Marianelli took the concept of resilience and translated it into music. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s so gorgeous and it suits the film so well.

I absolutely adored this film. Y’all can’t know how much I wish I had loved the novel as much as I loved the film, but alas!

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OwlCrate August 2018 Unboxing!

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My final OwlCrate box! My final book box! I adore OwlCrate, even more than I adored FairyLoot, but alas, I need to be more financially circumspect in the coming year. So, anything that’s not necessary has to go! Plus, I’ve been getting less and less interested in YA fantasy, and they tend to make up the bulk of OwlCrate books, so…yeah.

I was 99% certain what the book of the month was going to be, and I was right! I’m tentatively excited about it because it’s gotten some good reviews, buuuuut I’ve been burned by hyped books before, so we’ll see.

Let’s get to the August 2018 OwlCrate box! Continue reading “OwlCrate August 2018 Unboxing!”

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Gothic & Victorian Classics TBR

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When I was younger, I really hated classics and had resolved never to read them, so convinced was I of my dislike for them. Now, after having read several classics, I can’t say that I’m head over heels in love with of any of them, but I do appreciate their literary merit, so I’ve been doing my best to expand my repertoire of classic novels (I owe it all to Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which prompted my read of War and Peace). In the past two years, besides War and Peace, I’ve read Wuthering Heights, Northanger Abbey, Jane Eyre, and Rebecca (the only one I genuinely enjoyed, with no reservations).

Over this past year, as I’ve been writing my Fulbright application, I’ve rediscovered my teenage love for all things Gothic. I was a very emo teen, obsessed with horror and the macabre. I’m very intrigued by the Gothic literary aesthetic and all the anxieties it conveys about gender, class, race, imperialism, and much more (plus there’s so much draaaamaaaaaa). To that end, I’ve resolved to read several of the more well-known Gothic novels that have contributed to the construction of the genre. I have also rediscovered my love of the Victorian era, so I’ll also be looking to read classic books set during that time period, even if they may not be Gothic per se.

Another reason I really want to read these books is that there are a ton of modern-day novels that are based on these classics. I know that I don’t have to read the original books to enjoy the modern stories, but I would like to have that background. In another post, probably in mid-September, I’ll talk about my autumn TBR, which will consist of more modern Gothic stories!

Anyway, of course I want to share all these books with y’all, but I also want to have a super organized reference list of what I want to read; sometimes Goodreads just doesn’t cut it!


The Short & Pressing Reads

Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley: Reading this right now! Often touted as the first sci-fi novel, it is also heavily associated with Gothic lit.

The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896) by H.G. Wells: This is the only book on this list that’s a bit of an outlier. It’s not really Gothic fiction, rather more sci-fi and horror, but it was written in the late Victorian era, plus there’s two (!) books I want to read soon based on it, and it’s super short. Will probably read this next!

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson: This is one of the most well-known works of literature in the Western world, considering how often it’s referenced! I’ve known about it since I was a child. It is supposed to encompass the urban Gothic feel of Victorian London pretty well! Will probably read this soon!

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) by Oscar Wilde: A book I want to read soon is based on this! But also, this seems to be a truly beloved classic and is hailed as one of the better, more readable Gothic novels. I really want to read this before October!

The Vampires

Carmilla (1872) by J. Sheridan LeFanu: Funny story. I was supposed to read this in a college class but I…didn’t. I need to remedy that. It’s a precursor to Dracula with lesbian undertones. Yes please!!!

Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897): Do I even need to explain? This is like…a must for anyone who wants to know anything about Gothic lit. I’ve avoided it because I’m not a huge fan of epistolary novels (a running theme in Gothic lit, joy), but it’s high-time I read it!

The Vampyre (1819) by John Polidori: Remember the ghost story competition that prompted Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein? This was one of the other short stories that competition produced. This came before pretty much any famous vampire lit in England.

The Blood of the Vampire (1897) by Florence Marryat: This novel is less well-known than its counterparts; perhaps it was overshadowed by the publication of Dracula in the very same year. It tells the tale of Harriet, daughter of a voodoo priestess and a mad scientist, who seems to sicken everyone she comes into contact with. Could she have the blood of the vampire running through her veins?

The Major Leagues

The Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole: Often thought of as the very first Gothic novel, it tells the tale of Manfred, who sets out to marry his dead son’s virginal bride to be. It’s supposed to be super weird and super creepy and it’s the novel equivalent of the FIRST!!1! comment.

The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) by Ann Radcliffe: Otranto and Udolpho go hand in hand; if Walpole “invented” the Gothic, Radcliffe both perfected it and popularized it. This gigantic book tells the tale of young orphan Emily, who is trapped in a strange castle with an unwanted suitor and various other terrors.

Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) by Charles Maturin: Another massive book, it tells the tale of Melmoth, who has sold his soul to the devil in exchange for added life. Now he wanders the earth, desperate to find someone who will take over the covenant he made. Written by an Irish clergyman, Melmoth the Wanderer is a series of stories within stories that gradually reveal Melmoth’s life that supposedly ups the macabre and horror in the Gothic genre.

The Monk (1796) by Matthew Lewis: This trails Otranto and Udolpho as one of the major classics of Gothic lit. It’s filled with macabre and disturbing things like murder and incest, all about a monk who succumbs to temptation.

Foreign Lands

 The Italian (1797) by Ann Radcliffe: The mother of a young Italian nobleman is dead-set against the woman he wants to marry, and so she enlists a demonic, scheming monk to put a stop to the engagement, and he is willing to resort to all manner of horrific deeds to accomplish the task. Sounds sensational! Takes place in Italy.

Zofloya or the Moor (1806) by Charlotte Dacre: A tale of the downfall of a woman whose vices apparently exceed that of The Monk! One of those vices is her attraction to her Moorish servant. Lust! Revenge! Murder! Racism! Adultery! Satan! Rage! All the classic hallmarks of the Gothic tale. Takes place in Venice.

The Castle of Wolfenbach (1793) by Eliza Parsons: So this actually predates both Udolpho and The Monk, but is not nearly as well-known as either of them. It’s about a young girl trapped in her menacing uncle’s castle, which hides a terrible secret about his wife. Takes place in Germany.

Vathek (1786) by William Beckford: Probably chock-full of Orientalist nonsense, this book is about a Caliph who makes a terrible deal to sacrifice everything for power, culminating in a nasty fate. It’s weird, it’s obscure, it’s grotesque, it inspired Byron and Lovecraft. Takes place in…the Middle East?? Somewhere?

Frightening & Frightened Women 

Lady Audley’s Secret (1862) by Mary Elizabeth Braddon: Possibly more Victorian than Gothic, this highly sensational novel features an alluring female villain who has a secret that threatens the very fabric of Victorian society!!! Melodramatic and probably underwhelming to modern readers? Most likely. Do I still want to read it? Definitely.

The Turn of the Screw (1898) by Henry James: A very famous story about a governess who is haunted by some phantom specter who seems determined to steal the children, who don’t seem to be frightened of whatever it is. Very classic! I know literally nothing else about this book.

Uncle Silas (1864) by J. Sheridan Le Fanu: Part Gothic tale, part psychological thriller, this book is about young orphaned Maud, whose devious uncle plots to kill her and steal her fortune. Supposedly very disturbing and atmospheric and well-known in Gothic circles.

The Woman in White (1869) by Wilkie Collins: Another well-known classic, one I always confuse with Turn of the Screw for some reason! I have literally no clue what this book is about except it involves a ghost woman dressed in white. Also it’s long, but I will persevere.


This post took SO LONG to construct, omg. Do come talk to me about these books! What are your favorite Gothic tales? Which Gothic books do you most want to read? Are there any modern adaptations of these classics that you love and adore? Isn’t the 19th century fun??

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This Is My Genre Book Tag

I saw both Rachel and Callum do this and it looked like fun so why not!


➽ What is your favorite genre?

High fantasy! I’m talking specifically about secondary world fantasy compromising detailed worldbuilding that takes you out of our own world completely. So even though I do enjoy things like urban fantasy or paranormal, high fantasy is where it’s at for me. Also, in the spirit of high fantasy, this post is looooong (it’s only fitting).


➽ Who is your favorite author from that genre?

 

I stumbled across N.K. Jemisin way before the publication of The Fifth Season, when I was coming off a Game of Thrones high but looking for more diverse fantasy fiction that wasn’t Anglo-centric. N.K. Jemisin was the name I kept seeing again and again, and when I went into my Goodreads, I realized that I had already added her debut, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, onto my TBR. It seemed like fate, so I started reading, and I absolutely fell in love with her style and her creativity. Her worldbuilding is utterly superb, relying not one whit on Earth cultures and structures but creating something entirely new and original and unique. She likes playing around with narrative structure too, which is awesome. The three books pictured above are my favorites out of all her work.


➽ What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

Whenever I read high fantasy – good high fantasy that is – I get these shivers of delight. Good high fantasy is all about potential, possibility, creativity. It’s about larger than life plots; grand, epic situations; gods descending into the mortal world; cataclysms and huge stakes; complex magic systems. It’s a genre where literally anything can happen; it’s a no holds barred arena and a talented, creative author can create something so epic and so spine-tingling that becomes a reality all its own. That feeling? That shiver you get when you read something so magical and epic and escapist? I’m absolutely addicted to that feeling.


➽ What is the book that started your love for the genre?

 

I have three books for this, because I’m extra like that, but also because each of these was formative for me in its own unique way!

Aurian by Maggie Furey is what introduced me to old-school high fantasy. It’s one of those chunky (600 pages!), classic ’90s fantasies. I read it when I was sixteen, and I remember feeling such a sense of pure and absolute wonder while reading it. I don’t even recall much of what it’s about, only that it involves dragons and a power struggle over a magical artifact, so like, when I say classic fantasy, I mean it – but what I remember is being awed by this dense secondary world so different from anything I had ever read, with its own culture and history and strange names.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin might seem like a bit of a cop-out, given its popularity, but I think folks tend to forget that its roots are in classic ’90s fantasy as well! But what makes the series so intriguing is that Martin actually works to subvert so many classic fantasy tropes that had become cliched in the genre. I started the first book when I was seventeen, literally a few weeks before the first season of the show was set to air. I think that’s actually how I discovered the book; I saw a subway ad for the HBO show. It took me some time to get into it, by 2/3 of the way into the book, I was absolutely hooked, and from there I was a goner – I immediately got the next three books in the series and devoured them. A Game of Thrones reminded me what I love about high fantasy – if you wanna talk about dense worldbuilding, Martin is an absolute master at it! I’m not a huge fan of the show, but I think the books definitely inspire the sense of epic wonder and awe that I associate with high fantasy.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson is the first book in the Mistborn trilogy. Fresh off Martin and looking for more great fantasy, I found this series. Now, I’ll be the first to say that I have some issues with Sanderson’s writing – I find his dialogue stilted, his prose somewhat awkward, and I think he has a very particular way of incorporating female characters that bugs me – but his worldbuilding and plotting are SPECTACULAR. Like. I remember reading the final book in the series and nearly succumbing to tears of awe because Sanderson had managed to incorporate the tiniest, most insignificant details mentioned in book one, into the overall worldbuilding of the trilogy and I just. Damn. That sense of wonder and awe and sheer epicness. I love that feeling.


➽ If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

 

I also have three books for this! The thing about high fantasy is that a lot of people tend to be intimidated by it. I totally get that. It’s a commitment. Most of the books are over four hundred pages long and they’re full of new worlds and magic system and tons of characters and often you’re confused and have to refer to a glossary and there’s maps and there’s so much to navigate and absorb before you can even get into the actual plot! Not to mention there are so many fantasy series that are can be literal year-long commitments for some people. I mean, look at the Malazan series! Twelve books that are all 600+ pages! That’s insane! Plus the author just throws you into everything and leaves you to sink or swim on your own. I definitely wouldn’t recommend starting out with something like that if you’re not a fantasy reader. There is something to be said for starting with A Game of Thrones, since it’s so popular, but I actually don’t think it’s that accessible for fantasy newbies – it’s actually pretty dense and has an astonishing amount of characters thrown at you right off the bat. Instead, my recommendations are:

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is a YA high fantasy book. Some people say that YA fantasy is Fantasy Lite, which, fine, that’s fair (sometimes), but I think Truthwitch straddles that line nicely. It’s got really detailed worldbuilding, but not so detailed as to be overwhelming. It’s well-written and well-plotted, relatively fast-paced with great actions scenes. For someone who isn’t ready to commit to a super long and dense fantasy book, I think this is a great start into the genre.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang is being touted as a crossover adult and YA book, which I sort of agree with sometimes (and other times I don’t). This book is the opposite of dense, which I think is why folks are tempted to put it into the YA genre. It’s relatively straightforward, there’s not too much worldbuilding thrown at you all at once, and it’s very much focused on the coming of age of a single character. I think this is one of the most accessible adult high fantasy books out there and would be great for someone new to the genre. It’s also just a really good book.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is one I debated including, because it’s just…kind of a weird  book on so many levels. Take the narration style, which includes footnotes! But I think that actually makes it easier to navigate for the fantasy newbie? It means the worldbuilding is just sort of in the background for you to absorb or not absorb or absorb as much as you see fit. It’s not super heavily worked into the plot so there’s not a ton of tiny details and historical tidbits that you have to remember to understand the story, but it’s fascinating for fantasy nerds like me who LOVE that extra worldbuilding. It’s the best of both worlds! Plus, like The Poppy War, its focus is on a single character and her story, so the plot is rather straightforward and not overly convoluted like fantasy books that involve a gazillion different stories across like five continents.


➽ Why do you read?

For the thrill of it. For that spine-tingling shiver. For knowledge. For adventure. For inspiration. So many reasons!


Since I wasn’t tagged I won’t be tagging anyone, but please do pingback to me if you do this tag! This was super fun!