“While each novel can stand on its own and conclude satisfactorily, Grossman has built a few essential worlds that help us understand fantasy and our relationship to it through through a progression of novels about people like us faced with the spectacular.”
Little jaunt to the underworld? Don’t forget your passport. The second installment in Lev Grossman’s Fillory series, The Magician King, continues to play with realist fantasy and the right amount of irony to meld the two. Quentin and his pals provide a sly and subversive fairy tale for grown-ups, with a caution: be careful what you wish for. You might get it.
At the heart of Lev Grossman’s latest novel, The Magicians, lies the idea that a fantasy world exists, but one far more complex, and at times limiting, than Quentin Coldwater, the unlikely hero, might wish. Drawing on the rich fantasy traditions of Tolkien, Plover, and Rowling, Grossman subverts genre expectations in wholly original ways.
How do you know when vampire lit has reached critical mass? When it gets an academic conference. Vampire literature is now receiving some scholarly attention with a conference at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. Despite the smirk factor, the conference”Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture” has some serious intellectual heft: The aim of the conference is to relate the undead in literature, art, and other media to questions concerning gender, technology, consumption, and social change. […] The irony of creatures with no reflection becoming such a pervasive reflection of modern culture pleases in […]
I’ve come a bit late (only 14 years or so) to the wonder that is Megan Whalen Turner, author of the young adult fantasy series The Queen’s Thief. Of all the books I’ve read in recent memory, not many compare to this series, which is serial narrative of the best kind—the kind that gets richer and more complex as it develops. Before this month, there were three novels: The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia. A fourth, A Conspiracy of Kings, has just been released. I can’t wait to read it.
Award-winning lyricist, Amy S. Foster–who has written songs for musicians such as Diana Krall, Michael Buble, and Andrea Bocelli–makes an eloquent transition from songwriter to novelist in her debut novel, When Autumn Leaves. Like a well-written song, the novel evokes a powerful atmosphere. Foster’s vivid descriptions bring the charming town of Avening, a magical haven in the Pacific Northwest, to life. And the story captures our attention from the first note, when we meet the title character. Autumn is a member of the Jaen, “an ancient order of women who dedicate their lives to the service of others.” For years, she has guided the people of Avening, a town whose steady undercurrent of magic has attracted a unique citizenry. In the novel’s first chapter, Autumn learns she is being reassigned. She must leave Avening–but before doing so, she must choose her successor.
Henry: Lourdes brings small plates of exquisitely arranged antipasti: transparent prosciutto with pale yellow melon, mussels that are mild and smoky, slender strips of carrot and beet that taste of fennel and olive oil. We eat Nell’s beautiful rare tuna, braised with a sauce of tomatoes, apples and basil. We eat small salads full of radicchio and orange peppers and we eat little brown olives that remind me of a meal I ate with my mother in a hotel in Athens when I was very young. We drink Sauvignon Blanc, toasting each other repeatedly. (“To olives!” “To baby-sitters!” “To Nell!”). Nell emerges from the kitchen carrying a small flat white cake that blazes with candles. Clare, Nell, and Lourdes sing “Happy Birthday” to me. I made a wish and blow out all the candles in one breath. “That means you’ll get your wish,” says Nell, but mine is not a wish that can be granted.