Last month's book was The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairlyand in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne valente. This was our antidote to some of the darker titles we have had over the past year such as The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks or The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie (digression: start with The Blade Itself if you want more standard fantasy, less warzone violence).
Fairyland is not without its dark. Its tone feels closest to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, less with the nonsense logic and more with the world that is by shades enticing and threatening. There are friendly witches and murderous shoes. There is a knitted city and a beach of cast-off gold. There are spriggans, a wyvern whose father may have been a library, and a wild herd of bicycles.
My wife recommended the title to us, significantly upon the strength of the chapter with the soap golem. Before going to confront her adversary, September (our heroine) needs to wash her courage, her luck, and her wishes. It is a beautiful scene and a reflection on childhood and growing up. Like many books, the earlier chapters are stronger. Ms. Valente's book fares better with the half-light than the truly dark. You do owe it to yourself to read at least until you meet the Marquess, and if you like it that far, you may find yourself finishing it.
This month, we are reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. We open with Snowman, half-mad resident of a post-apocalyptic world after what is strongly implied to be a major disaster with biotechnology or biological warfare. We shall see what left the world in this state, how we got there, and who Oryx and Crake might be through the frame of Snowman's childhood, back when he was Jimmy. Jimmy was not a happy child, but it is not a happy world, it seems.
Come discuss it with us on Wednesday, September 26, at 7pm at the East Lansing Public Library.