The Broken Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #2)

By N.K. Jemisin

Rating: 3 stars

I’m not sure if it’s just down to my state of mind at the time of reading, but I didn’t enjoy this as much as its predecessor. Our environment and the things going on in our lives definitely affect how we consume media and I feel that possibly that I wasn’t quite in the right frame of mind for this book. It’s set about a decade after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms as Oree Shoth takes in a strange, homeless man and, as a result, gets drawn into a plot that starts with killing godlings, but has much bigger implications.

We get to see many more of the godlings in this book than we did in the previous one. That one was focussed entirely on the imprisoned ones, but the others had been banned from coming to the mortal realm. With that injunction gone, they flock there. We see gods of hunger, shadow, debt and more. Jemesin plays them with a light touch; although they supported Itempas in the Gods’ War, they don’t necessarily love him. And speaking of, we get some insight into the mind of Bright Itempas as his time with Oree starts to help heal him. Despite his terrible actions as revealed in the first book, we end this one feeling pity for him, even as Oree does.

And Oree is an interesting protagonist. Not as hard as Yeine from the first book. She’s a blind artist who was never near the halls and corridors of power and finds it difficult to cope with everything that happens to her, although when push comes to shove, she does have the strength to deal with it.

While I wasn’t completely wowed by this book, I’ll still look out for the final book in the trilogy.

Book details

ISBN: 9781841498188
Publisher: Orbit
Year of publication: 2010

The Witch at Wayside Cross

By Lisa Tuttle

Rating: 3 stars

Picking up where the first book left off, this novel sees our intrepid detectives with a dead man in their hall. The police chalk it down to natural causes, but they aren’t so sure. The trail leads them to a small village in Norfolk and more mysteries sprout up as they investigate.

I didn’t really enjoy this one as much as its predecessor. There was no single villain with the presence or charisma of Mr Chase and the three mysteries never really gelled that well for me. I’m also surprised that the discussion of Lane’s abilities were never mentioned at all, given their importance in the first. In fact, there was very little here to count as supernatural. Yes, there was talk of witches and magic killings, but who needs magic when you’ve got a knowledge of botanicals? And the whole subplot of the fair folk kidnapping Maria’s child just seemed to fizzle out.

I found Di Lane less engaging as a protagonist in this one too. She seemed to miss obvious clues and was generally a bit slower on the uptake than I would have expected of her. I also found Jesperson slightly more annoying as well.

Despite being negative in this review, I still read the book avidly and, for the most part, enjoyed it. I’ll look out for the next book in the series, but won’t jump at it.

Book details

ISBN: 9780857054555
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year of publication: 2017


By Jim C. Hines

Rating: 4 stars

A book about a secret society of magicians who do magic through their love of books?! How could I not love this? Isaac is a libriomancer, someone with the power to reach into a book and pull out objects (and, in rare cases, living creatures) to use in our world. Johannes Gutenberg created libriomancy and he’s still around (thanks to supping from the holy grail) but he’s gone missing, and vampires are attacking libriomancers and those close to them. It’s up to Isaac, along with the dryad Lena Greenwood, to discover what’s going on.

This was a lot of fun. The book was incredibly readable. It’s not hugely complex but the characters are enjoyable and the reason that Lena seeks out Isaac makes for an interesting dilemma, and moreso when a revelation makes that more complicated. I’m not entirely comfortable with the ethics of Lena’s situation (i.e. a magical creature, created in a book to be a man’s fantasy and moulded to his personality) but I think it’s handled well. I’ll look forward to looking out the next book in the series.

Book details

ISBN: 9780091953454
Publisher: Del Rey
Year of publication: 2012

The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief

By Lisa Tuttle

Rating: 4 stars

We first encounter Miss Lane on a train from Scotland, bound for London, having just abandoned her erstwhile friend Miss Fox while investigating a haunted house, after discovering signs of the latter perpetrating a fraud. Back in London, needing a job, Miss Lane sees an advert for an assistant to a consulting detective. The rest, as they say, is history. This is a fun twist on the Holmes genre, with Miss Lane working much more alongside her comrade, Mr Jesperson, than Watson did. It also draws on the fascination with the paranormal that existed in the Victorian era, as the duo try to discern the connection between a sleepwalker and the mediums who are going missing in London.

Miss Lane (who really doesn’t like her first name) is a nice character, who I enjoyed spending time with. She’s very aware of her position as an active working partner in an era where women mostly didn’t do that. Her past doesn’t come up much, but what is mentioned is interesting and will hopefully be expanded in future books. Jesperson is an interesting character too. A consulting detective who lives with his mum and who still has the occasional strop. He’s certainly no Holmes, but he’s got much more personality than Holmes, even if it is occasionally childlike.

The villain of the piece is a truly horrible creation. Several times, I wanted to put the book down and wipe my hands, since they felt dirty just holding the book in his scenes. His pleasure in controlling and humiliating his victims, especially the women, sent shivers of revulsion down my spine. What’s depressing is that someone gaining pleasure from power over others is entirely an everyday occurrence (albeit in this case, taken to extremes).

The last chapter takes us right into the next mystery for the intrepid duo, and hopefully more discussion of the history of both our central characters (and maybe some discussion about what happened with Miss Fox, given that following her reappearance in the story, the original reason for Miss Lane’s flight wasn’t discussed at all).

Book details

ISBN: 9781784299620
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year of publication: 2016

The Goodall Mutiny

By Gretchen Rix

Rating: 1 star

I did not enjoy this book at all. It’s about an officer and a bunch of her subordinates abandoned as half their spaceship is jettisoned by the captain. We’re introduced to Lieutenant Joan Chikage as she’s searching for escaped beetles, and it never starts making more sense after that. Chikage is neurotic, completely out of her depth, unable to command her crew and undermines her own authority all the time. Her internal monologue doesn’t exactly help the reader sympathise with her either.

There’s a huge amount left unexplained here, and stuff that just doesn’t make any sense. This should have been an intriguing mystery, but it’s left completely open at the end, with no sense of closure or any questions answered. There’s a sequel, which may answer some questions, but I just don’t care. It was just bloody-mindedness that kept me going through this book and I have no desire to read more about Chikage or her universe.

Book details

Publisher: Rix Cafe Texican
Year of publication: 2016

The Adventures of Sally

By P.G. Wodehouse

Rating: 3 stars

I enjoyed this book, focussing on Sally Nicholas, who’s just come into an inheritance, and her adventures, starting with a holiday in Europe where she meets Ginger Kemp, who’s a good egg but who can’t seem to hold on to any work.

It’s interesting, in that there are more clouds in these particular sunlit uplands than I’m used to with classic Wodehouse. Not necessarily many, but it feels like he was trying to add a bit more depth (and even pathos?) to his writing. Paragraphs where Sally muses on the nature of men’s focus on success to the exclusion of all else, or the (more than one) references to suicide bring this into relief.

But there’s still a lot of humour, and Wodehouse’s patented absurd characters, not to mention frightful relatives (an uncle, this time, rather than the more traditional aunt) and it wouldn’t be Wodehouse if it didn’t all get untangled by the end.

Book details

Publisher: Herbert Jenkins
Year of publication: 1922

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