This Week’s Reads

Hermione Eyre’s Viper Wine and Emma Newman’s Between Two Thorns
Historical Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Not completing
Alas, I have picked up and put down two books this week. Viper Wine is set in 1632 during the reign of Charles I. In the pursuit of beauty, many women are taking a mysterious potion with concerning side effects. Between Two Thorns is about a young woman who lives in the Nether, a reflection of England rules by the Fae. At the same time, something is amiss among the Arbiters and Max is the only one who can find out.

Neither of these books really did it for me. While the writing of Viper Wine felt overly stuffy, the writing of Between Two Thorns felt overly formal. I couldn’t really get into either of the worlds because they felt sort of floppy to me, treading territory that I’ve already read about dozens of times. I think ultimately that’s what bothered me the most. I’ve seen the fairies in London many times and no one will ever do it better than Susanna Clarke did it with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I’ve also read a lot of historical fantasy solidly grounded in the real world written a quasi-Enlightenment style and it’s really hard not to make that feel wooden. Viper Wine felt like, given enough time, it would dip into some really bizarre ideas, but I couldn’t get past the writing style.

Short story of the week: Sabrina Vourvoulias’s The Way of Walls and Words
Historical Fantasy, Finished
Read it here.
Another absolutely beautiful short story. This is about two girls, who stand opposite sides. One languishes in a prison while the other sweeps the prison halls. One is of a faith that is seen to be blasphemous and the other is not (although she hasn’t been as converted as the monks thinks she has been). This is a wonderful, short exploration of what religion means to a person; what practices are important, what does it mean to, and why do they hold onto it. The characters are both willing and unwilling to participate in the other’s religion, curious about somethings and horrified by others. It’s especially interesting when the characters begin interacting with that religion’s rituals and what exactly that means.

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