Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review: Sea, Swallow Me by Craig Laurance Gidney (Lethe Press)

I loved this book!  It is the first short story collection from Craig Laurance Gidney and reading it, and then re-reading it, made me wish it was a longer collection or a part of a series.  Gidney's voice is very assured and he expertly switches back and forth between first and third person narratives and different times and locals with ease.

Gidney's use of language is hauntingly beautiful and at once put me in mind of Tanith Lee or Storm Constantine.  I also loved the way that he would play with myth and folklore, putting his own unique signature on them; from an African seagod to Desire personified, I found them all hard to shake as I proceeded to the next story.

It's hard to pick a favorite out of all these perfect gems but both "Etiolate" and "Strange Alphabets" spring immeadiately to mind.  I loved the spin on the life of Arthur Rimbaud who is
"cursed by poetry."  And the story of Oliver, who must comes to terms with what he desires and his own need to be wanted was darkly erotic.  "Catch Him by the Toe" is straight up horror where a small town becomes a hunting ground for a creature bent on revenge, while "Circus-Boy Without a Safety Net" is a coming out story of a boy who follows his patron saint Lena Horne to New York.

 Each and every tale in this collection is a joy to read and I was very happy I sought this book out.  I hope you do the same!  And thanks to Mr. Gidney; I can't wait for what's coming next!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Review: Servant of the Underworld by Aliette De Bodard (Angry Robot)

The following is my first review for Angry Robot books.  It's a little late; I blame the holiday hustle and bustle for that.  And to be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book.  I tend to not like those multisyllable names that permeate works derived from Latin or Aztec histories but I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed and really enjoyed it!  Yes, the author has thoroughly researched the language, customs, and such but uses it just enough to flavor her narrative, not over power it.  The book reads more like a mystery rather than dark fantasy; either way, it's very hard to put down.  It opens when Acatl-tzin, high priest for the Dead, is called upon to help solve the presumed murder of Eleuia, offering priestess of Xochiquetal and candidate to become consort to Xochipilli.  As much as he is reluctant at first, he is forced to help because his estranged brother Neutemoc is the prime suspect for the murder.  From here Acatl's journey goes through many twists, showcasing his world, it's Gods and their customs and politics.  As I said, alot of research has been done by the author and it is in the descriptions of the Empire and its citizens and dieities that we get the payoff.  This book is beautifully written and a pleasure to lose oneself in.  I wasn't familiar with de Bodard before but reading this book has me looking forward to her next one AND I was also happy to find a story of hers in the February issue of Realms of Fantasy!  Please see for yourself and pick up a copy!!