Title: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night
Author: Jen Campbell
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Book Depository // Dymocks // Booktopia
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review.
As a self-professed lover of fairy tales, their origins, and their reinvention, I was primed to love the whimsical and beautifully written collection of stories. Within these short stories readers will find tales imbued with the ghost of familiar fairy tales, intertwined in with historical facts that are stranger than fiction. The stories within this collection are driven by voices of the outcast, weaving the border between reality and fantasy, yet it remains consistently enchanting due to the beautiful imageries the writing conjures. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a testament to the enduring power of fairy tales and their ability to withstand the test of time.
I’ll be reviewing some of my favourite stories within the collection below:
First Lines: “These days, you can find anything you need at the click of a button.
That’s why I bought her heart online.”
The collection is off to a powerful and haunting start with Animals, a story set in a world where fickle and impermanent human hearts can be exchanged for hearts of a different kind – ones made of glass, or hearts which once beat in the chest of another animal. Fixated on finding the perfect heart for his girlfriend, the narrator of this story orders the heart of a swan. What follows is a tale that examines love and possession, intermingled with passages about hearts and animals from both myth and history. It’s fairy tale retelling meets Frankenstein: raw and visceral, dark yet beautiful, filled with human thirst – in short, it’s the perfect way to begin this collection. Continue reading “Book Review: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night”
Title: Because You Love to Hate Me – 13 Tales of Villainy
Author: Various, all listed below. Edited by Ameriie.
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Book Depository // Booktopia // Dymocks
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury Australia in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve been very curious about this anthology ever since it was announced last year. Generally, the authors in the young adult community have a very strong social media presence, allowing them to interact with readers and bloggers on a daily basis. This collaboration between YA authors and some influential booktubers takes this relationship to a whole new level, and I was excited to see how this partnership would unfold. As with anthologies in general, I found this one a bit of a mixed bag – but it’s centred on villains, and I love to LOVE them. You can find short reviews of each individual story below.
The Blood of Imuriv by Renee Ahdieh, prompt by Christine Riccio
First Line: Everywhere Rhone walked, the nightmares followed.
I’m a fan of Renee Ahdieh’s descriptive writing style, but I felt this story lacked tension and was heavy on info-dump. The short story format does not lend itself well to adequate world-building, and although the story was set in space – the location and period could have changed and I would not have noticed any difference. I also found the story unfolded in a very clunky manner, with the villain’s internal monologue and motivation ringing false, perhaps this due to how restrictive and specific the prompt was. Continue reading “Book Review: Because You Love to Hate Me”
A post recommending short stories is the closest I will ever come to celebrating Halloween. The holiday just seems so incongruous with the Australian summer, and I did not even know of its existence while growing up in Vietnam.
On the other hand, I am someone who’s always been morbidly fascinated by ghost stories and grisly horror. I am particularly invested if there’s a cultural or human element to the story, my faint heart vastly prefers a solid story of human tragedy to an all-out gore fest. This short recommendation list will include a couple of short stories I read throughout the week leading up to Halloween, they all feature diverse author and/or characters.
Trigger Warning for most of the stories for blood and violence. Continue reading “Halloween 2016: Diverse Horror”
If you’ve been on Twitter this past week, you’ll notice that the community is abuzz with discussions on representation in fantasy. I can barely believe that it’s still up for debate. I am continually disappointed that while white and heteronormative narrative continues to dominate the genre, we still get people leaping to its defense when someone questions about the absence of diversity.
Somehow, there’s an idea that diverse fiction is a genre unto itself, that we should not demand to see ourselves reflected in popular fiction. In my mind, good fiction should be relatable and to some extent, it should accurately reflect the real world – even if it’s a fantasy.
To soothe my anger at the twitter debate, I went on Tor’s website to read through several of the SFF short stories they publish. I love the fiction published on this site because i) it’s free! and ii) it’s always quality and pushes to be inclusive. At the end of the day, the best way to support inclusive stories is to read them and shout your love to the world about them. So here’s a list of great SFF stories you can enjoy by just clicking on the link!
THE WEIGHT OF MEMORIES by Cixin Liu / translated by Ken Liu
We made a terrible mistake in thinking that replicating memories was sufficient to replicate a person.
Cixin Liu took the world by storm with The Three-Body Problem, one of the first Chinese science fiction to be translated into English. I love how he uses daring ideas on science, and reapplies it to answer questions about humanity. This short story about engineered and inherited memories between a mother and her unborn child captures his style perfectly. Ken Liu delivers a smooth and technically impressive translation, as always. Continue reading “Recs: Diverse SFF Short Stories”
TBR Takedown is a readathon running on twitter from 20-26th of June. The challenge? To read 6 books fitting into 6 different categories.
My book hauls in the last couple of weeks have been absolutely out of control. I will opt to blame my wanton indulgence on the fact that it’s my blogoversary month. With hauling comes the responsibility to read all of the books, so I’ve decided to partake in TBR Takedown this week in an attempt manage my pile.
I will mostly be trying to knock off library books this week. I am still extremely mortified about my previous set of fines and I cannot look at the local librarians in the eyes.
A Book Out Of My Comfort Zone: Gossip From The Forest by Sara Maitland
Non-fiction is something I rarely ever read, but this book sounded too excellent to pass up. Sara Maitland visits the woodlands of Britain, rediscovering their intrinsic links to fairy tales we love. For each forest she wanders through, she tells us of its natural and social history – as well as how aspects of the forests guided humanity’s imagination and oral storytelling traditions. She also concludes each story with a retelling of a well-known fairy tale.
I am about two-third of the way through this one, and it has been simultaneously enchanting and fascinating! However, I do find that it is a very personal indulgent piece of writing, the author often relying on conjectures and assumptions to get her message across. Continue reading “TBR Takedown: The Pile”
Title: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys
Series? No. Anthology
Rating: 4/5 stars
I started reading this around Halloween season, but only got around to finishing up the review for it now. Oops. The anthology was very strong, and it reminded me why I love the economy of short stories. An amalgation of some of the best voices in YA at the moment, the stories in here are all based on a novel, movie, or other creative work in the past. I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the origin story of these works.
The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma – 4 stars
I felt this tale was a strong start to the anthology, it was not outright scary, but certainly incredibly unsettling. In classic Nova Ren Suma style, this tale edges on reality and the unknown – with the ill-intentions of the living being far more upsetting than those of the dead. Written in her familiar lyrical style, this tale examines teenage girls in both their strengths and vulnerability when faced with a sexual predator. You’ll look twice at the birds outside your window in a different light after reading this. Continue reading “Book Review: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys”