The Danger of Reading Broadly

I have been engaged in love affair with the written word from early childhood. A book is at its best a transcendent experience, with the power to absorb totally and colonize one’s mind long after it’s been closed. A much-anticipated book that fails to meet expectation can be a crushing, while an old favorite that doesn’t live up to memory is a disillusioning disappointment.

My fiction reading has been peppered with disappointments of late. Continue reading


The Stone and the Grist: Jo Walton’s Farthing

This is a book gathered dust on my shelf for years. I bought it on the strength of Walton’s Tooth and Claw, a wonderful novel that “Jane Austen, but if the characters were dragons” does only the smallest service to. This on has languished untouched due to it being an alternate history, a subset I’m a hard sell on for reasons I won’t get into here. I finally pulled it out due to a critical mass of positively comments from too many unrelated sources to ignore any longer. Now I’m annoyed with myself for not having done so sooner. Continue reading

From Street-Rat to Improper Lady: Patrica C. Wrede’s A Matter of Magic

Patricia C. Wrede is one of the first fantasy writers whose works I fell head over heels in love with as book-inhaling child, and one of the few I’ve read remarkably little of for all that. Her Enchanted Forest Chronicles are the rare children’s novels that have only gotten better as I’ve aged (they’re firmly on my list of books to read to my hypothetical-but-unlikely future offspring). During my bookstore clerk days, I stumbled across the reprint of Sorcery and Cecilia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, her collaboration with Caroline Stevermere. It reminded me that there is a whole oeuvre beyond the Enchanted Forest Chronicles I’d somehow managed to overlook. I then proceeded to forget about the whole thing for five years. It may thus be considered a minor miracle that A Matter of Magic, the omnibus reprint of Mairelon the Magician and The Magician’s Ward found its way into my home. Continue reading