Mar. 3rd, 2017

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The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde - Set in a magical version of England that has becoming less so for some time. “Wizidrical power” has been getting weaker by the year, and the story follows Jennifer Strange, the organizer/liaison for the last few dozen operating wizards as they fix people’s wiring and get cats out of trees. It’s a very, very British book with active satire of most aspects of government and media, plus a bunch of fantasy tropes. I wouldn’t call it fabulous, but it was definitely fun.

Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link - A collection of short stories that focus on the whimsical and mysterious. Similar to Gaiman’s work in a bunch of ways, but with a tendency to be open-ended and give the reader more blanks to fill in. “Slice-of-weirdass-life” stories, as it were. (I remember being told by Jethrien at one point that I wouldn’t like this, because, well, pretentious wankery. I found they’re lighthearted enough to actually feel interesting and magical without necessarily reading as wanking that’s trying too hard, like many things in this genre.) Link doesn’t seem able to actually end a story—most of them just stop or end on a completely different note than they started on—but I knew to expect that having read her other work. Oh, and there are some very witty lines, which have always been a weakness of mine.

Please Don't Tell My Parents I Have Minions by Richard Roberts - After the second book took Penny and friends well out of their usual environment, this one pulls back the entire supporting cast from the first book and life races ahead with breakneck speed. It’s fun, but occasionally a bit disconnected and involves so many new characters I could barely keep track of them. Also, obviously setting up at least one more book, this leaves so many hanging threads it isn’t even funny. If you’ve read the first two and gotten invested in the ongoing series, then this continues it apace.

A House Like a Lotus by Madeline L'Engle - Years after her previous appearances, a 16-year-old Polly O’Keefe finally gets to be the protagonist of a story. And that story is about her teenage angst as she learns the truth about a much older friend and is snookered into a romance with a suave rich boy. I mean, there are motions towards a mystery and some drama, but really, it’s a slice-of-life/coming-of-age story. (And boy oh boy does it date itself—is the fact that Max and Ursula are gay supposed to be a surprise or something? L’Engle is going for “gay people aren’t monsters, mostly” which I feel like is a lesson most of us are past at this point. For that matter, there’s a bit of a, “Wait, did Jett just die?” moment when we see what actually happened with Max.) I think I’ve had my fill of L’Engle’s teen drama work at this point.

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