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October 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 SF/Fantasy
The titles below were reviewed in Booklist, April 15, 2004-March 15, 2005. -Ray Olson
Cash, Steve. The Meq. 2005. Del Rey, paper, $13.95 (0-345-47092-3).
A Meq appears to be 12 years old until he or she meets a soul mate. Ziannio Zezen, orphaned precisely at 12 in 1881, is drawn into countering an evil Meq as years of searching embrace the St. Louis World’s Fair, the Boxer Rebellion, and other historic events in Cash’s ingenious debut.
Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. 2004. Bloomsbury, $27.95 (1-58234-416-7).
Clarke completely and believably creates a world within a world: outside is early-nineteenth-century England as Napoleon looms over Europe; within is the stately community of English magicians. Magic is moribund, but circumstances rouse it in this heartfelt, historically fine-tuned work that is part fairy tale, part epic.
Grimsley, Jim. The Ordinary. 2004. Tor, $24.95 (0-765-30528-3).
The technologically advanced Hormling of Senal were certain of their superiority to the magic-based culture they found beyond the Twil Gate on Irion. In Grimsley’s spare, poetic sf debut, they are rudely awakened by how unprimitive Irion is.
Koontz, Dean. The Taking. 2004. Bantam, $27 (0-553-80250-X).
A glowing rain begins falling at one a.m. in the San Bernardino Mountains of California, bringing a feeling of profound oppression with it. This gripping, blood-curdling, thought-provoking parable (as it develops) is the best of Koontz’s three outstanding publications since April 2004.
Micklem, Sarah. Firethorn. 2004. Scribner, $25 (0-7432-4794-9).
Firethorn fled to the forest to learn by trial and error the properties and powers of plants. She leaves it renewed, strengthened, and as a healer who accompanies highborn warrior Sir Galan in Micklem’s gritty, feminist take on classic romantic fantasy devices.
Phillips, Holly. In the Palace of Repose. 2005. Prime, $29.95 (1-894815-58-0).
Phillips’ dark fantasy stories have the aura of heroic fantasy, aiming to awe far more than to frighten as they introduce protagonists who finally seem to want to bring magic back into the world more than they fear supernatural forces.
Reed, Kit. Thinner Than Thou. 2004. Tor, $24.95 (0-765-30762-6).
In the future of Reed’s visionary novel, youth and beauty constitute the only religion; megalomaniacal, luxury-spa-owning Reverend Earl thrives; underground religions recall a time when gods were worshiped; and anorexic Annie’s unexplained “disappearance” spurs her twin siblings and boyfriend to find her.
Stewart, Sean. Perfect Circle. 2004. Small Beer, $24 (1-931520-07-0); paper, $15 (1-931520-11-9).
DK-William “Dead” Kennedy-sees dead people with unfinished business: an ex-wife he can’t get over, long-deceased Uncle Billy. Living things are tough for DK, too, and he gets involved in a murder in Stewart’s dead funny, slightly scary, sometimes warm and fuzzy normal-world fantasy.
Tarr, Judith. Rite of Conquest. 2004. NAL/Roc, paper, $16 (0-451-46002-2).
Presenting William the Conqueror as the son of an earthly year-king and a druid goddess, and England as the scene of paganism rebelling against Saxon-enforced Christianity, Tarr blends myth, mystery, historical fact, and page-turning-good action.
Wolfe, Gene. The Wizard. 2004. Tor, $25.95 (0-765-31201-8).
The Wizard joins The Knight (2004) to complete a complex fantasy based in northern European heroic literature, especially the Arthurian legends, and it is in the same league as Lord of the Rings.
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