Recommended reading: Katherine Arden, Image Comics, Ursula, K. Le Guin

 

The Girl in the Tower By Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower is the sequel to the amazing Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. We reviewed The Bear and the Nightingale in Cinders Says in our very first issue, and we were delighted with the dark, wintery Russian fairy tale. The story continues with this year’s offering, the second in a promised trilogy. The Girl in the Tower is exceptional, a beautiful story that envelops you just as well as the Bear and the Nightingale did before it. Once again we are immersed in Vasya’s world full of stories and adventures. This time she is forced to pose as a male monk with her brother Sasha in order to survive. Vasya has to escape the people’s scrutiny having been thought a witch by her community when she left. She has new challenges to face in this installment and Arden leads us through the winter with her usual blend of lyricism and beauty. You’ll want to curl up with  it on a cold evening with a cup of hot chocolate.

Twisted Romance by Image Comics

Any regular readers of Cinders know just how much we love a good comic book. Back in Volume One  Issue One we raved about Ms Marvel, Fresh Romance, Nimona and Saga. We’ve since raved even more about Saga, and talked about Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka’s turn on Marvel’s Runaways (Runaways is excellent by the way – you should absolutely check out the collected edition in April). However this month, with romance back on the brain, we’ve taken to Image Comic’s one off weekly publication, Twisted Romance. This takes two love stories in each of its four issues, with different artists and writers and offers them up to the reader. If comics are your thing then you’ll really enjoy this foray into the fantastic and the very weird, with it’s ‘through the wrong side of a looking glass’ look at love, and romantic entanglements. It’s an unusual addition to the comic book pile, but one you’ll be glad you sunk your teeth into.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin is one of the most celebrated fantasy and science fiction authors of this century, filling the world with truly beautiful tales about women, men and what it means to deconstruct gender. She died earlier this year and it has made us take another look at her most famous works. This month we’ve returned to one of Le Guin’s classics, namely The Left Hand of Darkness, a sci-fi classic that takes us to a world known as ‘Winter’ where there are no men and no women – it’s an entirely genderless society and lets us see what that might look like. Frequently described as one of the books that ‘everyone should read’ we enjoyed being able to return to The Left Hand of Darkness and see just what a visionary Le Guin was.

Faerie Queen – An Interview with Holly Black

Over the last ten years, bestselling author Holly Black has rightly earned the title of ‘Faerie Queen’. She weaves a Faerie world that is dangerous and bloodthirsty, far from being a dream come true, these worlds are more like your darkest nightmares brought to life. Méabh McDonnell spoke to Holly about her experience writing her new novel The Cruel Prince and her writing life.

 

A veteran of urban fantasy, Holly Black has delighted readers with her previous ventures into a dark and twisted Faerie world overlapping modern day America.  Her stories are gritty, compelling, and surprisingly realistic for stories about faeries.  Her previous ventures into this Faerie world, have unearthed a collection of brave and strong characters, in Tithe, Valiant, Ironside and The Darkest Part of the Forest.

I started with the idea of this girl being raised by the her parents murderer

The Cruel Prince is a fresh journey into this, cruel world of Faerie. It tells the story of Jude Duarte, kidnapped into Faerie as a child with her twin Taryn, and sister Vivi. If that wasn’t bad enough, they were kidnapped and raised by their parent’s murderer, redcap general Madoc. Jude grows up in their faerie world of Elfhame, and is forced to make this place her home. It isn’t a particularly welcoming place for a human girl to grow up. Even less welcoming because of her enemies in the court, none worse than prince of the realm, Cardan. Prince Cardan takes vicious delight in tormenting Jude, making her life hell. Despite all of this, Jude is determined to make a life for herself within the Faerie kingdom. And she is willing to do almost anything to make it a reality…

Speaking to Holly Black, we found out what she enjoyed about revisiting her world of fairy.

Continue reading Faerie Queen – An Interview with Holly Black

Recommended Reads: Frances Hardinge, Seanan Maguire, Joanne M Harris

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Following on from the success of The Lie Tree, A Skinful of Shadows is Frances Hardinge’s next big hit. A Skinful of Shadows is a dark YA historical fantasy set in the early part of the English Civil War. Makepeace is an illegitimate daughter of the aristocratic Fellmotte family, and because of this, she shares their unique gift: she is able to be possessed by ghosts. But Makepeace is reluctant to accept her appointed destiny as vessel for a coterie of her ancestors, so she escapes. As she flees the pursuing Fellmottes across war-torn England, she accumulates a motley crew of her own allies, including outcasts, misfits, criminals, and one extremely angry dead bear. You won’t be sorry you checked this one out.

Beaneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan Maguire

If you like your outcasts confident and your heroines unique then you can’t go wrong with Seanan Maguire’s beautiful trio of novellas about  Eleanor’s West’s Home for Wayward Children. Beginning with Every Heart a Doorway and continuing on to Down Among the Sticks and Bones, it continues with Beneath the Sugar Sky which is released in January 2018. Maguire combines beautiful, lyrical writing with fantastic stories and settings. Beneath the Sugar Sky follows Rini, a girl who lands with a  literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, and discovers that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived.  If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. The whole series is a brilliant read and the newest installment will really brighten up your weekends.

A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M Harris

Modern magical realist Joanne M Harris takes another foray into fantasy with A Pocketful of Crows. Following the months of the year, A Pocketful of Crows draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl who grows up around the wild and nature. It isn’t until she falls in love that she takes her first steps into the world of man but she isn’t certain that she fits in there either. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape. Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a gorgeous modern fairytale.