Autumn Books Preview: Cathedral of Myth and Bone

If you haven’t read Kat Howard’s Roses and Rot yet you are missing out. Especially if dark, drifting, fantasy is your thing. Her stories are never saccharine and always pack a punch. That’s why we were overjoyed with A Cathedral of Myth and Bone, a series of short stories dealing with the weird and wonderful in the most magical way. With stories dealing with enchantment, joy and magic that you never have seen before.

In these stories, which are equally as beguiling and spellbinding as her novels, Howard expands into the enchanted territory of myths and saints, as well as an Arthurian novella set upon a college campus, “Once, Future,” which retells the story of King Arthur—through the eyes of the women who influenced him. This was our favourite story in the collection and we would be telling you to read it just for this!

Captivating and engrossing, and adorned in gorgeous lyrical writing, Kat Howard’s stories are a fresh and stylish take on fantasy. It is beautiful and will keep you hooked for every minute, every moment that you are reading. The best stories will take you beyond this world and right into the next. Enjoy every single second.

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A Cathedral of Myth and Bone is out on November 6

 

Autumn Books Preview: Girls Resist by Kaelyn Rich

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Girls resist is the guide book we all needed as teenagers – and perhaps still need in our lives. Released by Quirk Books Girls Resist is a guide for every activist girl out there. It would be the perfect gift for any girl, deftly explaining terms like privilege and the glass ceiling and micro aggressions at the beginning of each chapter and also giving a clear idea on how to combat those through activism at the close. It is a book that doesn’t talk down to the reader instead treats them as an equal and takes their hand to try and help build a better world together. It’s also an extremely entertaining read, with contributions from the author including her own experiences and her activism tips. It’s accompanied by some lovely illustrations that really set the tone for the book, making it an object that you would want to have around your house as well as read. No other publisher operating right now seems to understand the delight of beautiful packaging quite like Quirk books. And long may they last. So says Girls Resist and so say I. 

 

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.

Book Review- Not if I save you First by Ally Carter

How many times have you thought – life as a secret service agent must be fun? Many? Me too. Well, Maddie Manchester knows exactly what it’s like. Because her father was one. He isn’t anymore, because, well, that’s what happens when your father takes a bullet for the president. He tends to re-think his priorities and move himself and his teenage daughter to Alaska. Far away from the president and far away from the president’s son Logan, Maddie’s best friend.

Six years go by and Maddie is left in the depths of nowhere – acquiring all of the skills a typical teenager possesses, chopping wood, skiing, hiding out. Life is quiet and peaceful. That is, until Logan shows up on her doorstep, bringing his own brand of trouble right along with him. There’s nothing like the president’s son to arrive and throw your life into complete disarray.

Ally Carter’s newest adventure is fun from top to bottom. The sheer enjoyment that comes with following Maddie’s adventures is infectious. Ally Carter takes the typical teen romance and injects it with a fun dose of adventure and mayhem.

Not if I Save You First is not a book to be taken seriously, however it is very enjoyable and will give every reader a fun weekend of imagining running for your life and falling in love.

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

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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.

Happy International Women’s Day! Cinders Reading List

Happy international women’s day to all of the friends, mothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, co-workers, inspirations and activists out there! You all inspire us daily and make us take pride in who we are and make us choose who we want to be.

This year our thanks go out to all of the brave women who have told their stories and truths in the hope that we can be part of a better future. Both in the workplace and outside of it.

Here in Cinders we love brave confident women and we look up to them every day. Here’s hoping that we can grow up to be like them.

If you’re looking for some fantastic International Women’s Day reading then look no further, here’s our definitive list:

If you like non-fiction and badass women:

Rocking the System by Siobhan Parkinson

If you like scientific Victorian feminism:

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Gross

If you like sci-fi dystopias:

Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

If you like realistic stories:

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

If you like relatable stories with musicals in the end:

Like other Girls by Claire Hennessy

If you like fairytales:

Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan and Illustrated by Karen Vaughan

Make sure to check out the CBI #BOLDGIRLS hashtag for more brilliant reading recommendations!

Recommended Reads: JK Rowling, Aline Brosh McKenna, Anna Marie McLemore

First published in Cinders Magazine Volume one Issue Six

Cormoran Strike Series

What with the BBC’s recent release of Strike: The Cuckcoo’s Calling and Strike: The Silkworm, we decided to revisit JK Rowling’s fantastic detective series. Writing as Robert Galbraith the series follows veteran private detective Cormoran Strike and his intelligent partner, Robin Ellacott. Rowling’s talent for whodunnit’s hasn’t lessened since her Harry Potter days, with each of the three books as compelling as the adventures of the boy wizard. However, their true shining star is the kind-hearted genius that is Robin Ellacott. Resourceful and brave, Robin is the girl that you want to be and the girl, you want to be your friend. The books follow Robin’s journey from temp to partner in the business, and it’s her story that keeps me reading on. There hasn’t been much news about the next book in the series, Lethal White, but that doesn’t make us any less excited.

Jane by Aline Brosh McKenna and Roman K. Perez

We don’t need to tell you in Cinders that we are big fans of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend writer, Aline Brosh McKenna, so when we heard that she was writing the script for a graphic novel adaptation of Jane Eyre, we were definitely onboard. And boy does it not disappoint. Given a modern setting, we meet Jane Eyre, a young woman who just wants to get to art school in New York. However in order to make her dreams a reality, she needs to take a position as a nanny to pay her way. Roman K. Perez’ art is wonderful in the book, beginning in black and white and – just like the Wizard of Oz – only becoming colour when Jane reaches New York. Even if graphic novels aren’t your thing, if you’re a Charlotte Bronte fan, we think that this book will be one for you.

Wild Beauty by Anna Marie McLemore

Anna Marie McLemore is becoming a big name in the magical realism genre, and with the release of her third novel, Wild Beauty; it’s easy to see why. The book is filled with lush, magnetic prose that you just can’t tear yourself away from. It follows the Nomeolvides family, the women who tend the gardens at La Pradera, who are cursed that every man they will ever love eventually disappears. That is, until the garden gives them a mysterious boy back. Knowing nothing but the first three letters of his name, he must use the girls help to figure out the mystery of who he is. An enchanting, and surprising read.

Best books of 2017 part two

 

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is a perennial favourite of ours in Cinders, we really enjoyed her Six of Crows series and her recent Wonder Woman story Warbringer has been hailed as one of the best ever renditions of Diana of Thymiscera. The Language of Thorns however is somehting different,  a collection of six novellas set in the Grishaverse – the fantasy world that five of Bardugo’s novels have been set in. These stories however are designed to stand on their own, suitable for fans of the novels but also for anyone who can appreciate a good fairytale. They are inspired by myth, fairytale and folklore, with haunted towns, and angry woods, mermaids and gingerbread and are gorgeously illustrated throughout. You’ll be delighted curled up with a blanket, this book and a hot chocolate.

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Kristen Cashore is the fabulous author of Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue. The three fantasy novels, set in a world where people are granted magical powers in a variety of disciplines, are excellent and well worth a read. Jane, Unlimited is the latest offering from Cashore.  An odd little novel, Jane, Unlimited is no less of a powerhouse than her original trilogy. It follows Jane, newly left alone after her aunt and guardian was lost on an Antarctic expedition. Jane, is alone, has no direction and is obsessed with creating umbrellas inspired by her dreams. That is until she is swept away by Kiran Thrash who invites Jane to the glamorous and mysterious Tu Reviens, a place she always promised her aunt she would go. Soon when she arrives at Tu Reviens, Jane realises that not everything is as it seems and every choice she makes has unimaginable consequences.

Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross is more than a game. For the millions who log in everyday, it’s a lifestyle. Launched ten years before the beginning of the novel, it’s a place where people can escape their lives and even make a profit. Teen hacker Emika Chen makes a living as a bounty hunter tracking down people who are betting on the game. Needing to make some money fast Emika unintentionally inserts herself into the international Warcross Championships, and becomes an overnight hit. Instead of being hauled off by the authorities – which is what she expects – she is introduced to the game’s creator, Hideo Tanaka. He has a challenge for Emika – to be a spy within the system for him – but her investigation may not uncover everything she was expecting. Marie Lu is the acclaimed author of the Young Elites and the Legend series. Warcross has already had excellent reviews and promises to be the start of an excellent new series.

Girls made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

If you’re in the mood for fairy-tale re-imaginings, then this autumn will give you more than you could have asked for. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is the brand new Snow White retelling by Melissa Bashardoust.

Already with a starred review on Kirkus, the novel has been praised as a worthy edition to the fairytale retelling landscape.

The feminist take on the fairest of them all follows both the stepmother and Snow White herself, here named Mina and Lynet. Girls Made of Snow and Glass interweaves both of their stories in past and present. It examines the relationship of these two women, who are destined by folklore to be rivals and enemies and looks at how they can perhaps escape their fate and change their story.

A must for anyone who felt that Snow White was too thin of a story and wanted something new.

Bell, book and candle – interview with Moïra Fowley Doyle

Magic, mysticism and mystery are at the core of Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s novels, The Accident Season and this year’s The Spellbook of the Lost and Found. Set in rural Ireland they take normal girls and unravel the secrets of their past and defeat the demons of their present with spells, enchantment and dreams. We chatted to Moira about the inspiration behind her books and weaving magic into modern Ireland.

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Did you always want to write novels?

Always. When I was a child I wanted to be a ballet dancer so I took four two-hour ballet classes a week for ten years – and I wrote constantly: stories and poems and every day in my diary. When I was a teenager I wanted to be an artist so I drew and painted and sketched – and I wrote constantly: poetry and short novels and every day in my diary. When I was in university I realised that my only constant was my real passion, so I started calling myself a writer.

Where did you develop an interest in magical realism?

When I was a teenager I discovered the Weetzie Bat books by Francesca Lia Block.They’re a series of five cult YA books written in the 80s and I’d never read anything like them. They’re glitzy and grim and sparkly and serious, they’re lyrical and strange and poetic.

There’s this sense that threads through them that even the darkest moments can be beautiful, that reality and fantasy are blurred, that everybody has a story to tell.

I took this like an arrow to the heart because I’d always had the same sense myself, but couldn’t quite put it into words.

Once I realised that this interlacing of truth and fiction had a genre and a name I started reading all the magic realism I could find.

It’s the closest type of fiction that I feel reflects real life.

“The real and the maybe-not-so-real have always been a bit blurry for me, and that means that when things are good they’re dreamy and magical, and when they aren’t they’re eerie and haunting.”

What books and authors have influenced your writing style?

Francesca Lia Block, for starters, but also non-YA like Kate Atkinson and Jeanette Winterson on the adult fiction side, and David Almond and Philip Pullman on the children’s fiction side. These are the authors I read the most as a teenager, which was when my writing style developed, and are also some of the authors I read the most today.

Both The Accident Season and The Spellbook of the Lost and Found are dreamy, haunting stories, do you have to get in a particular mindset for that style of writing?

To be honest, that mindset is kind of my default. I’ve never been someone who is particularly anchored in the real world. The real and the maybe-not-so-real have always been a bit blurry for me, and that means that when things are good they’re dreamy and magical, and when they aren’t they’re eerie and haunting. I lived my entire adolescence like this, so I suppose it made sense to me to write about teenagers who lived the same way.

In The Spellbook of the Lost and Found you mix religious traditions, superstitions and wiccan ritual, did you do a lot of research to bring your story to life?

I read a lot about folk magic and patron saints, but these are things I’m very interested in anyway, so I had a good bit of that research done already. I learnt a lot of the superstitions and religious traditions just by having been brought up atheist in Ireland. There’s this fascinating and beautiful almost-paganism to Irish Catholicism when you look at it from the outside: the patron saints, the holy wells, how people bury Child of Prague statues before weddings and keep St Christopher medals in their babies’ prams. I also read a lot about trees. Native Irish trees and the superstitions and legends and folk magic associated with each. Each of the characters’ names were carefully chosen so that their personalities – and relationships with each other – aligned with the meanings of the trees they’re named after. I think I read more about trees than I did any other research.

Your books have such a sense of place – did the area that you grew up in have a big influence on that? 

Not the place I grew up in, so much: I grew up in Clontarf, which is a seaside suburb on the north side of Dublin, and it’s very lovely, but not at all like where I set my first two books.

But a couple of years before I wrote The Accident Season my parents bought a house in County Mayo, beside a forest, on the shores of a lake.

It’s in the middle of nowhere, a fifteen minute drive from the nearest small town which has a beautiful river running through the middle of it and not a few ghost estates sitting empty and overgrown. B

oth The Accident Season and Spellbook are set in fictional small towns that are heavily based on that real town.

“I don’t tend to write people I know in real life into my books, but I put a lot of the feel of my family – the closeness, the teasing, the minor chaos, the dad jokes – into Olive’s family in Spellbook”

The characters in both of your novels are loyal and have strong connections of family and friendship – is that drawn from your own life?

I’m very lucky because I have a very close-knit, loving family and a group of friends I’ve had since I was a teenager. Some I met when I started secondary school, the others when I started university, and we’ve been through a lot together and grown up together and stayed strong and a lot of us were each other’s bridesmaids and now our children play together.

I don’t tend to write people I know in real life into my books, but I put a lot of the feel of my family – the closeness, the teasing, the minor chaos, the dad jokes – into Olive’s family in Spellbook.

That’s probably why the chapters we spend in Olive’s house are some of my favourites in the whole book.

Do you have a favourite of any of your characters?

I feel a great kinship with Bea in The Accident Season – she is probably the closest to teenage-me that any of my characters have turned out so far.

But I also love Rose in Spellbook – I think it would be very difficult not to fall in love with somebody like Rose in real life.

The romances and emotions in both of your books are incredibly intense and vibrant – do you enjoy writing that side of your characters or do you find it challenging?

I love the emotions!

Emotions and relationships and family dynamics are the things I prefer to write – in fact, they’re always the things I write first.

My first drafts are a mess of dreaminess and creepiness and characters having emotions and relationships and the rest of what makes a story – the plot, the pacing, having at least half of the book make some semblance of sense – happens in the edits.

“Write the kind of book you want to read but can’t quite find, the one that ticks all your boxes, the one that you’d buy instantly if you saw it on the shelves.”

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I know this is kind of a cliché, but write what you love. Fall in love with what you write.

Write the kind of book you want to read but can’t quite find, the one that ticks all your boxes, the one that you’d buy instantly if you saw it on the shelves. If you don’t love your book fiercely, you’re less likely to finish it.

And if you love it that much, chances are very high that other people will too.

Do you have plans for your next novel? 

I’m currently about halfway through the first draft of my next novel, so because it’s at such an early stage I can’t talk much about it. I like that it’s kind of a secret as I build it, though – this tangle of family history and stormy seas – that will one day soon become a book.

The Accident Season and The Spellbook of the Lost and Found are published by Penguin and available from all good bookshops.