Novel Review – “Tales from Outer Suburbia” by Shaun Tan

Not really for children, but for adults who remember what it was like to be a child in suburbia.

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“Tales from Outer Suburbia” by Shaun Tan

Hardcover
96 pages
Published October 28th, 2008 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 2008)
Original Title: Tales from Outer Suburbia
ISBN:0771084021 (ISBN13: 9780771084027)
Awards
  • World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Collection (2009)
  • New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award Nominee for Patricia Wrightson Prize (2009)
  • Ditmar Award for Best Artwork (2009)
  • Western Australian Premier’s Book Award for Young Adult (2008)
  • Children’s Book Council of Australia Award for Older Readers Book of the Year (2009)
  • Aurealis Award for Illustrated Book / Graphic Novel (2008)
  • Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for Bilderbuch (2009)
  • Tähtifantasia Award (2016)
  • Australian Independent Booksellers Indie Book Award for Children’s (2009)
  • The Inky Awards Nominee for Gold Inky (2008)
  • Adelaide Festival Award for Children’s Literature (2010)
  • Australian Book Industry Award (ABIA) for Illustrated Book (2009)
  • Literaturpreis der Jury der Jungen Leser for Sonderpreis (2009)
  • The Inky Awards Shortlist for Gold Inky (2008)

About

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‘water buffaloes are like that; they hate talking.’

From the publisher, “Breathtakingly illustrated and hauntingly written, Tales from Outer Suburbia is by turns hilarious and poignant, perceptive and goofy. Through a series of captivating and sophisticated illustrated stories, Tan explores the precious strangeness of our existence. He gives us a portrait of modern suburban existence filtered through a wickedly Monty Pythonesque lens. Whether it’s discovering that the world really does stop at the end of the city’s map book, or a family’s lesson in tolerance through an alien cultural exchange student, Tan’s deft, sweet social satire brings us face-to-face with the humor and absurdity of modern life.”

My Thoughts

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‘He was saying the same sentence over and over, ending with “tasoo-ke-te, tasoo ke-te.”‘

This review may come off as a bit biased because I love “The Arrival.” Honestly, it isn’t so much as an “apple to oranges” kind of comparison between the two books, but maybe a comparison of two of the most glorious pieces of fruit one can eat. Each is wonderful in their own ways.

Both of these novels are excellent, but they are different in a slight, albeit essential way. There are words in “Tales From Outer Suburbia”… The experience of Shaun Tan’s illustrations is a bit more on the nose.

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‘It opened into another room altogether… an impossible room somewhere between the others.’

“Tales From Outer Suburbia” is a collection of fifteen nuanced short stories. All are threaded together with an exploration of the vapidness, bewilderment, joy, sorrow, and enlightenment of living in the suburbs; specifically the suburbs of eastern Australia. Each of the stories is captivating and a hell of a lot deeper than the two or three pages devoted to each. For example “Stick Figures,” is a story about wooden stick figures that are part of a suburban landscape. They move unimaginably slow, and their purpose is not precisely known. However, if you think about suburbia and the little bits of nature that come through the manicured lawns and the shopping malls, nature could very much seem like an unknowable creature that exists, but we have no idea the purpose of. As someone who has spent much of their life living in the suburbs and had to travel to visit nature, I get what he is trying to say. Nature can become the unknowable.

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‘How great it must have been long ago, when the world was still unknown.’

Another glorious story was “No Other Country.” This story explores what it means to be a person of two ideals. The unexplored model of what a place should be as one ideal and the current situation you live in as the other.

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‘The fire burned with astonishing intensity.’

What if you could escape to the ideal place at your leisure? Would that change how you felt about your current living situation? Again this taps into a lot of what Shaun Tan writes about in “The Arrival.” The idealized world and the reality. Would you appreciate your reality if you could escape it once in a while? It is a powerful short story, and absolutely worth the read.

I feel like reading a Shaun Tan book is meditative. They are never boring, beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated. However, his work is saturated with a calmness and purposefulness. His words and images are impactful without being jarring. You don’t see that often in any type of literary work. It speaks to a mastery of craft that I as a reader feel privileged to partake in. As you can probably tell, I am a fan and recommend his work. However, it isn’t for everyone. It is fanciful and calm and deep. Sometimes, that is not what one needs in their books. So my suggestion is that if you are feeling self-reflective or full of ennui, give one of his novels a try. I doubt that you would regret the experience.

Review of “I Killed Adolf Hitler” by Jason

“I got to get rid of the body”

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About 1

Jason. I Killed Adolph Hitler. Fantagraphics, 2007. Print.

Awards

2008: Eisner Award, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for I Killed Adolf Hitler 

#62 on CBH Greatest Graphic Novels of all Time

Book Summary

From the publisher, “In this full-color graphic novel, Jason posits a strange, violent world in which contract killers can be hired to rub out pests, be they dysfunctional relatives, abusive co-workers, loud neighbors, or just annoyances in general — and as you might imagine, their services are in heavy demand. One such killer is given the unique job of traveling back in time to kill Adolf Hitler in 1939… but things go spectacularly wrong. Hitler overpowers the would-be assassin and sends himself to the present, leaving the killer stranded in the past. The killer eventually finds his way back to the present by simply waiting the decades out as he ages, and teams up with his now much-younger girlfriend to track down the missing fascist dictator… at which point the book veers further into Jason territory, as the cartoonist’s minimalist, wickedly dry sense of humor slows down the story to a crawl: for long patches absolutely nothing happens, but nobody can make nothing happening as riotously entertaining as Jason does… and finally, when the reader isn’t paying attention, he brings it together with a shocking, perfectly logical and yet completely unexpected climax which also solves a mystery from the very beginning of the book the reader had forgotten about. As always, I Killed Adolf Hitler is rendered in Jason’s crisp deadpan neo-clear-line style, once again augmented by lovely, understated coloring.”

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Courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts

Spoiler alert, Adolph Hitler dies… Big shocker I know.  The title is very much in the writing style of the novel: minimalist, terse, and concise. No need for grand allusions or literary whatnot; Jason writes very well and does not need to be wordy. The writing could almost come off as cold, but it isn’t really. It is just succinct. Why write a paragraph, when one word will work. Using this terse writing style, he explores themes of love, loss, moving on, and assassination and morality in equal measures throughout the book.

You would think that with a plot like the assassination of Adolph Hitler through time travel via a for-hire assassin, it would be difficult to add in a romance element to it. But Jason makes it work rather well. Again the romance is bare bones, but the emotions are subtle, raw, and very thoughtful.

His protagonist is an interesting choice for the story. He set him as an assassin who kills without qualms on a daily basis without the worry of legal or moral ramifications. However, throughout the novel, he shows morality, and empathy and even longing in other areas of his life. The leads the reader to think of him as a walking, talking, killing contradiction. How can the reader have compassion for his plights and cheer him on in his quest to assassinate Adolph Hitler at the same time? It is a conundrum, but it happens very quickly. Although, calling him a likable character would do him a disservice. You do kinda like him. He has a very macabre sense of humor that we get little wisps of throughout the story. Even with his sparse lines, he says much in the “in-between” panels.

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Kill Hitler. http://www.goodreads.com

What humor there is very macabre and very dry, skimming the line of the ironic. In one scene the assassin is working in his office, that looks very much like a doctors office. He has a line of customers (patients) waiting patiently to see him. The whole scene is bathed in irony and macabre humor.

Graphically, again the panels are very spare. A limited color palette is used, as well as a very sparse, very flat linework. The main characters are humans, with cartoonish animal heads. You can tell that Jason was very much influenced by the Ligne Clair comic style, à la “Adventures of Tin Tin.” “(Ligne Claire) Uses clear, strong lines all of the same width and no hatching, while contrast is downplayed as well. Cast shadows are often illuminated. Additionally, the style often features strong colors and a combination of cartoonish characters against a realistic background. All these elements together can result in giving comics drawn this way a flat aspect. (wikipedia.com)” Jason nailed this style.

Conclusion

Read it, it will take you an hour at most. Jason comics are among the best graphic novels have to offer right now. They are profound without being egotistical and pompous. Jason gets you thinking about things without it clouding over your day. They are perfect.

“Ligne Claire.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 June 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligne_claire.

Swine Hill is full of the Dead in Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones

eARC Review of “Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones”
by Micah Dean Hicks

Stats

  • 5 out of 5 Stars
  • Hardcover
  • 304 pages
  • Expected publication: February 5th, 2019 by John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

About

“[T]his novel is extraordinary . . . It is Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, mixed with H. G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, set in the creepiest screwed-up town since ’Salem’s Lot . . . [A] major achievement.” — Adam-Troy Castro, Sci-Fi magazine

Swine Hill was full of the dead. Their ghosts were thickest near the abandoned downtown, where so many of the town’s hopes had died generation by generation. They lingered in the places that mattered to them, and people avoided those streets, locked those doors, stopped going into those rooms . . . They could hurt you. Worse, they could change you.

Jane is haunted. Since she was a child, she has carried a ghost girl that feeds on the secrets and fears of everyone around her, whispering to Jane what they are thinking and feeling, even when she doesn’t want to know. Henry, Jane’s brother, is ridden by a genius ghost that forces him to build strange and dangerous machines. Their mother is possessed by a lonely spirit that burns anyone she touches. In Swine Hill, a place of defeat and depletion, there are more dead than living.

When new arrivals begin scoring precious jobs at the last factory in town, both the living and the dead are furious. This insult on the end of a long economic decline sparks a conflagration. Buffeted by rage on all sides, Jane must find a way to save her haunted family and escape the town before it kills them.


My Thoughts

“They could hurt

you. Worse,

they could

change you.”

Swine hill is a place that will hurt your body, wrack your soul at the altar of human selfishness, and destroy you. Imagine living in this place. Imagine working at the store or a packing plant here. Imagine having to share part of your soul with the undead. Hick’s characters do, and for a short time, we readers also do.  Hick’s has invented a story that is so rife with pain, imagination, and horrors that if you could take the spawn of Dr. Moreau and The Haunting of Hill House you would have something close to this. Haunt is unsettling in ways that made me uncomfortable deep down in my bones.

Hicks explores the premise of a haunted family in a haunted town. It centers around the protagonists Jane and Henry. Brother and sister trapped with the souls of unsettled ghosts inside them. In Jane’s case, it is the soul of a woman who thrives on conflict and secrets. The spirit silently whispers to jane the horrible thoughts and intentions of those around her. Henry has the ghost of a mad inventor inside him seeking to create incredible and awful machines whose purpose is sometimes unknown. The pair is also influenced by their mother and father, both haunted. Her mother is haunted by a person so craving affection that her body physically radiates heat. Enough to burn and scar. Jane is the heart of the family. Silently she pounds away at life and looks after her family as best as she can within the circumstances.

The crux of the story rests around Henry and how his mad ghost creates things. This time Henry invents pig people. Upright human-like animals that are built to self-slaughter and could eventually render the town and by extension humans obsolete. Henry creates many, but individually we meet Hog Boss and his kind son Dennis. Both are good-natured and thoughtful people set at deliberate juxtaposition to the rest of the “human” inhabitants of the town. Enter the fearful townsfolk, frightened of the unknown, in both the pig people and the loss of their livelihood. What happens next can only be described as an explosive clash between the old ways and the new all within the context of Jane attempting to save people.

“Her mother’s ghost

made the house

a suffocating place.

She didn’t touch Jane

often for fear

that she would burn

her.”

The setting in the story is unrestrainedly unworldly. The writing drips darkness and moisture from every page and sometimes, I could swear my kindle was fogging up from the cold. Hicks absolutely has created a world where you should be very afraid that ghosts will settle in your bones.

The underlying theme of this story is relationships: sister to brother, mother to son, lover to lover. In this, it is the immense power of links that can drive a person to the unthinkable or the extraordinary. What would I do for the person I love? What would I do to the person I hate? Person to person a spiderweb of narrative and relationships is created. This web holds the town together and eventually culminating in it blasting apart. 

It is poignantly cruel that these characters, so afflicted, must also contend with the worst problems we see in our own world. Hicks will unflinchingly show you the horrific visage of ghosts and nightmares pulled from the headlines of our own world, leaving you to wonder whether one lot is truly fundamentally worse than the other. And yet, perhaps it is true that they who would grow must first be made to suffer. Certainly, the growth we see in these characters is the result of a purposefully built set of trials and woes; it is not an easy journey for us to follow but it rewards us as only a master-crafted tale can.

Things get harsh and really painful for the characters in this story. I know I have alluded to it vaguely, but I don’t want to give away the cleverness of the story. It is scary, mystical, and bittersweet. It absolutely deserves all of the forthcoming awards that are going to be thrown at it. If you are a fan of the horror/bizarro genre, look no further than this book, but even more so if you are a fan of the written word and the power it can wield, this is a worthy read.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions are my own. Quotations are taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon publication.

About the Author

Micah Dean Hicks is the author of the novel Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones. He is also the author of Electricity and Other Dreams, a collection of dark fairy tales and bizarre fables. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Hicks grew up in rural southwest Arkansas and now lives in Orlando. He teaches creative writing at the University of Central Florida.

Knowledge Comes at a Steep Price in Okorafor’s Binti

Novel Review of Binti (Binti #1) by Nnedi Okorafor

Stats

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • ebook/audiobook
  • 96 pages
  • Published September 22nd, 2015 by Tor.com
  • Original Title “Binti”
  • ISBN0765384469 (ISBN13: 9780765384461)
  • Edition LanguageEnglish
  • URL http://nnedi.com/books/binti.html
  • Series Binti #1

Awards

Hugo Award for Best Novella (2016), 

Nebula Award for Best Novella (2015), 

Locus Award Nominee for Best Novella (2016), 

Nommo Award for Best Novella (2017)


Image courtesy of Randomnerds.com

About

From the publisher, “Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first, she has to make it there, alive.”


My Thoughts

“We prefer to explore the

universe by traveling

inward, as opposed to

outward.”


– excerpt from Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti

Where have I been? Apparently under a rock because there is a bit of a Nnedi-naisance going on. Her work, whether short story, novella or full-length novel are everywhere and very well respected in the science fiction/fantasy community.

This story is pretty straightforward. A fish out of water tale. However, what is not straightforward is the depth of character that Okorafor created in such a short novella.

Binti is a 16-year-old girl from the isolated Himba region on Earth. She applies and is accepted into the prestigious intergalactic university Oomza Uni, and is the first person of Himba descent to ever be admitted let alone attend the prestigious school. Right away, we as a reader know that Binti is stepping way out of her comfort zone. Both culturally, physically and emotionally. Her people are very traditional and are not one to reach out to change. This in itself is a huge internal conflict for Binti that is artfully addressed throughout the story. While in transit, Binti’s ship is attacked and hijacked by the warlike Medusae people. A jellyfish-like species that has been at war with the Khoush aka other earthlings. The entirety of the ship’s inhabitants save for Binti, and the pilot is murdered with little regard. To escape Binti retreats to her personal living quarters after which she attempts to wait out the trip to make it to Oomza Uni alive.

“I swiped otjize from my forehead with my index finger and knelt down. Then I touched the finger to the sand, grounding the sweet-smelling red clay into it. “Thank you,” I whispered.”


– excerpt from Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti

In the process of trying to survive, Binti makes some startingly discoveries. First, the piece of technology that she brought from earth, called an edan, enables Binti to communicate with the Medusae. Something that had previously not been accomplished. Secondly, the red clay like substance that Binti uses from her homeland called otijza has healing properties to the Medusae. Binti tentatively coordinates a truce between the occupants of Oomza Uni and the Medusae averting a war and subsequently, makes Binti loved by the Medusae tribe and both esteemed and feared by other Oomsa Uni students. She then begins her mathematical studies at the university. That is the end of this particular novella, but not the story. Okarafor has gone on to write two additional novellas that flesh out Binti’s character even further.

“Tribal”: that’s what they

called humans from ethnic

groups too remote and “uncivilized”

to regularly send

students to attend Oomza Uni.” 


– excerpt from Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti

First, let’s address some of the high points of the story and writing style. Nnedi Okorafor is an authentic writer. In that, I mean she feels entirely at home within the prose of her words, and it reads comfortably. There are no forced situations or scenarios, every scene flows smoothly and transitions from one scene to the next. This is a rare trait in a writer, especially at a short story or novella length when much has to happen in a short period. Okorafor is an author that shows instead of tells. The technology that she has created naturally doesn’t exist, and its use in the story is a huge and essential plot point. Instead of just saying that the edan that she brought from her does this and that, Okanfur shows us. She shows us the machine, to the point in which we as readers can almost feel it in our hand. Lastly, I feel like I know Binti. Okorafor has described Binti so vibrantly that I feel like I could hold her braids in my hand, smell the red clay she coats her body with, and the electrical currents she can harmonize. Oddly enough, it has little to do with how tall Binti is or other physical features and entirely on the content of Binti’s character, quality of writing, and a feel for her as a person.

At the end of this novella, we learn that knowledge comes with a significant cost, a cost that Binti has to pay. The ending is both bittersweet, a punch in the proverbial gut, and an opportunity for her to become more. Well worth the read. Not only is this a feather in the cap of Afro-futurism, but of science fiction at large. This is a damn good story.


Procurement

I listened to this on Scribd.


About the Author

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian American author of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults and a professor at the University at Buffalo, New York. Her works include Who Fears Death, the Binti novella trilogy, the Book of Phoenix, the Akata books and Lagoon. She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards and her debut novel Zahrah the Windseeker won the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. She lives with her daughter Anyaugo and family in Illinois. Learn more about Nnedi at Nnedi.com.

Graphic Novel Review of “American Gods Volume 1: Shadows (Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: The Shadows #1-9)”

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Russell, P. Craig et al. American Gods.

Stats

4 out of 5 Stars
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 13th 2018 by Dark Horse Books
Original Title American Gods, Volume 1: Shadows
ISBN 1506703860 (ISBN13: 9781506703862)
Edition Language English

Summary

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.”

― Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

30430From the publisher, “Shadow Moon gets out of jail only to discover his wife is dead. Defeated, broke, and uncertain where to go from here, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who employs him to serve as his bodyguard–thrusting Shadow into a deadly world where ghosts of the past come back from the dead, and a god war is imminent.

Collecting the first nine issues of the American Gods comic book series, along with art process features, high res scans of original art, layouts, character designs, and variant covers by BECKY CLOONAN, SKOTTIE YOUNG, FABIO MOON, DAVE MCKEAN, and MORE!”

My Thoughts

“Hey,” said Shadow. “Huginn or Muninn, or whoever you are.”

The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.

“Say ‘Nevermore,'” said Shadow.

“Fuck you,” said the raven.”

― Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

6050678-07Reading “American Gods Volume 1” was a challenge for me. It wasn’t due to the source material or anything like that. It is hard for me to remove my personal bias towards anything that is not the book. I have a similar difficulty with movies where I love the book. American Gods is a brilliant bit of urban fantasy. I mean it is Gaiman, so of course it is. Everything the man touches is fantastic.  The man could write a jingle for a used car salesman, and it would be magic.

This graphic novel was able to add magic to an already magical and well-done story. Since the prose is pretty much word for word of the source material, the magic was in the form of the stupendous graphics that were done by Scott Hampton and many others.

Much like a cinematographer, Hampton added atmosphere and aura to the words and gravitas of the scenes. He used a combination color palette of muted colors and psychedelic hues.  Some scenes, depending upon the action going on took a somber tone that matched the narrative. Other scenes, when the magic was buzzing, the images blaze off the page like a kaleidoscope of otherworldly colors. The whole story seems like a fever dream in a lot of ways. It is beautifully done and effective.

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Other illustrators took a hand in this volume, and they read like a who’s who in current famous comic illustrators and designers. They drew various vignettes and variant covers in their respective styles. Becky Cloonan from “Gotham Academy” fame and Fabio Moon who designed one of my favorite graphic novels of late, “Daytripper, ” among others.  The story lends itself well to many design interpretations, and this was demonstrated well here.

Conclusion

“All your questions can be answered if that is what you want. But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them.”

― Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

Volume 1 is grandly done. If you are a fan of the book or TV show, it can only add to your personal experience, and that is saying something. Most of the time, movies, and graphic interpretations screw it up. “American Gods Volume 1” is thankfully not one of those instances.

Graphic Novel Review of “Fell, Feral City” by Warren Ellis #bookblogger #bookbloggers #amreading #graphicnovel

“Ain’t no Jesus in Snowtown, Detective.”
― Warren Ellis

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Stats

4 out of 5 stars

Paperback, 128 pages

Published June 5th 2007 by Image Comics (first published September 2005)

Original Title Fell (issues 1-8)
ISBN 1582406936 (ISBN13: 9781582406930)
Edition Language English
Series Fell #1-8

Awards

2006 Nomination – Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series

2006 Nomination – Eisner Award for Best New Series

“Ain’t no Jesus in Snowtown, Detective.”
― Warren Ellis

About

From the publisher, “Detective Richard Fell is transferred over the bridge from the big city to Snowtown, a feral district whose police investigations department numbers three and a half people (one detective has no legs). Dumped in this collapsing urban trash zone, Richard Fell is starting all over again. In a place where nothing seems to make any sense, Fell clings to the one thing he knows to be true: everybody’s hiding something.”

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My Thoughts

“Cause a cop asking a guy for a discount on his crack, that’s screwed up.
Sign of the goddamn apocalypse is what that is.”
― Warren Ellis, Fell, Feral City

“Fell” was written in 2006 as an experiment by author Warren Ellis to make serial comics more affordable. Sadly the experiment was short-lived, and no episodes have been published since the original 9. That being said, Fell is a worthy ready. Each book is a single story that takes place in Snowtown centered around Detective Richard Fell. It is dark and gritty, and very bloody. There is no real story closure or central theme other than watching Detective Richard Fell. Imagine a pseudo-Sherlock Holmes mixed with Spider Jerusalem from “Transmetropolitan”. It’s absurd but effective read and worthy of consideration. Check it out. Fair warning though, right now there are a lot of hard and awful things going on in the world. If you do not want to briefly delve into some of the dregs of humanity in story form I might give this story a pass.

Novel Review – Night and Silence (October Daye #12) by Seanan McGuire

The world had changed. The world wasn’t changing back.

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Awards

None specifically for this novel, yet. However, Seanan Mcguire has won numerous Nebula, Hugo, and Pegasus awards for her novels.

About

From the publisher, “The twelfth installment of the Hugo-nominated, New York Times-bestselling Toby Daye urban fantasy series! Things are not okay. In the aftermath of Amandine’s latest betrayal, October “Toby” Daye’s fragile self-made family is on the verge of coming apart at the seams. Jazz can’t sleep, Sylvester doesn’t want to see her, and worst of all, Tybalt has withdrawn from her entirely, retreating into the Court of Cats as he tries to recover from his abduction. Toby is floundering, unable to help the people she loves most heal. She needs a distraction. She needs a quest.

What she doesn’t need is the abduction of her estranged human daughter, Gillian. What she doesn’t need is to be accused of kidnapping her own child by her ex-boyfriend and his new wife, who seems to be harboring secrets of her own. There’s no question of whether she’ll take the case. The only question is whether she’s emotionally prepared to survive it.

Signs of Faerie’s involvement are everywhere, and it’s going to take all Toby’s nerve and all her allies to get her through this web of old secrets, older hatreds, and new deceits. If she can’t find Gillian before time runs out, her own child will pay the price. One question remains:

Who in Faerie remembered Gillian existed? And what do they stand to gain? No matter how this ends, Toby’s life will never be the same. “

My Thoughts

“The world had changed. The world wasn’t changing back.” ~ Night and Silence

I know that because it is book 12, it seems like it would be hard to jump into the series. It isn’t. Mcguire does an excellent job of providing enough backstory to understand the basics of what is going on. You may not get all the subtle nuances, but you will enjoy the story.

This is my hands down favorite series next to Dresden Files. Much for the same reasons. Both worlds have fantastic characters, great plots, and a wonderfully interwoven universe of fantasy and reality. October Daye is a likable character but more than that, she is a developed character,  especially by book 12. Some writers, after twelve books, rehash the same story over and over. You know exactly how it is going to end every time and it is boring. This series is not like that at all. Twists and turns are Mcguires modus operandi. Book 12 was just as well written and entertaining as book 1, and it is a nod to how well Mcguire writes that she is able to achieve that. Also, unlike a lot of Urban Fantasy out there where romance becomes the main plot the October Daye world has romantic elements, but the stories are never about that. They are formed around a fleshed out problem that she tackles with intelligence and the help of family and friends.

This book is explicitly about family and motherhood. Toby is a mother, but she stepped away from her daughter Gillian and allowed her to remain human as it was what her daughter wished. Toby herself is dealing with the after-effects of what her mother Amandine did to her and Tybalt in the previous book. There is Miranda, Gillian’s stepmom, who is much more complicated than we have seen her in the past. There is The Luidaeg who is a mother of a long-dead race of Fae. All the mothers’ stories intertwine. Gillian is missing, and these women must come together and put aside their differences to save her. Even then, sometimes despite your best efforts things do not work out like we hope they would. It is a painful experience for Toby who just wants her life to go back to being calm.

Many of the plot threads that Mcguire has been weaving since book 1, Rosemary and Rue, are coming to fruition. It is exciting as a long time fan to see forethought that Mcguire has put into this series play out excellently. We learn about The Luidaeg’s back history, more about Tybalt, and most importantly about Miranda. (I am keeping a bit vague as to not spoil anything)

I am bummed I am going to have to wait another year for book 13. This was a seriously excellent addition to the series. Read it from book 1, or 12. Whatever, it is an awesome series and well worth the time and effort.