Author: Robert Holdstock
Title: The Fetch
Edition: Warner Books, Paperback
Robert Holdstock was a distinguished British writer whom I already reviewed once. His Mythago Woods is a great, if a bit rough, journey through the world of Celtic – and earlier – myths connected in a very real way to a modern (well, post-II WW anyway) world. Mythago… is a first part of the Ryhope Woods cycle, whereas The Fetch is a stand-alone novel, but we stay in the general area of myths, archetypes, and British countryside. But while the previous one was scary at times, Fetch could well be called a horror story. I could see it being adapted to the big screen (or Netlix 😉 ) as a classical horror with an Omen vibe (without Christian references).
Magic Binds is the ninth installment in the highly acclaimed urban fantasy series by the writing duo, Ilona and Gordon Andrews. Having reached the status of bestsellers and the rare honor of hard cover over the span of an almost decade of writing, Kate Daniels series is widely recognized as one of the best urban fantasy series in the market. I have written about the series here. After several pretty decent novels there came a serious dip in the form of Magic Shifts, then a couple of novellas about side characters from Kate Daniels’ world, and an entirely new urban fantasy/romance series before finally the ninth book saw the light of day.
Magic Binds garners enthusiastic reviews from critics and fans alike, showcasing all the strengths of the previous novels. The end of the 10-book story arc is near, and so the ninth book cannot but head toward some kind of a grand conclusion, upping the ante and preparing ground for the big climax. All the smoldering conflicts burst up in flames, all the grudges and favors are coming to the fore once more, and the knowledge of previous events is a must. It follows logically that the readers in general – and the people writing reviews specifically – have invested so much into the series already that their reception might be more than just a bit skewed.
It’s a yearly event now, the coming out of a new book in Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. Each March a new installment hits the shelves, and I am fairly sure , after reading the tenth book, that it won’t end too soon. Assigning only the ulterior, financial motivation to the author would be unfair. I’m absolutely sure that it would be incredibly difficult to part with characters as likeable, vibrant and alive as hers. There’s always another story to be told, another angle to explore… And yet, and yet, maybe it’s time to say goodbye.
Ten books is no mean thing. These are not doorstops in style of Czajkowski or Erikson, or let alone Martin who publishes each new installment of Game of Thrones in two parts, because otherwise the binding wouldn’t hold… These are urban fantasy books, three hundred odd pages long and no more. Still, ten books about essentially one character is a lot. And if you don’t have an overarching plot, spanning more than a couple of books, unfolding slowly in the background of the main action – like in Dresden books, to keep the example from the UF field – pretty soon you may find yourself without anything important to say.
After Seveneves, a book admittedly on the heavy side of the genre spectrum, both in literal and metaphoric sense, I wanted something lighter and unassuming, a comeback of sorts to typical urban fantasy. In short, I wanted a bit of easy entertainment ;).
So it’s not entirely The Invisible Library’s fault that I got what I wished for – and I wasn’t happy about it, not a bit.
But to the point. The Invisible Library is the first installment in the Invisible Library series (3 books total now). The novels are fairly popular, with solid reviews and good opinions of readers. It’s an urban fantasy with a twist – the “urban” part being Victorian, and the twist being the titular Invisible Library, a place intended to hold all books of all worlds, and their countless variations appearing in the thousands of possible realities. To sum it up, the keywords list would look something like this: urban fantasy, YA, parallel universes, steampunk, mystery, books.
I’m a bit tired of Urban Fantasy. A few years ago, tired with Epic Fantasy, I picked up Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series and it was the start of my flirt with this particular subgenre. Now my focus is on different stuff, but I’m still following a few authors (Jim Butcher! Publish some Dresden novels! It’s been years!!). And sometimes something new, or at least previously unknown to me, comes my way.
The Devil You Know by Mike Carey is not exactly new, having been published in 2006, but somehow escaped my notice until recently, when, in despair, I was searching for some Urban Fantasy that would not border on paranormal romance. I don’t really want to read much more about magnetic effect overly muscular wolf-men have on women.
The newest installment in the Mercy Thompson series, Fire Touched, had hit the shelves mid-March. It’s the ninth book in a series that originally was supposed to have only eight installments, and currently is planned to end after ten, but seeing the popularity of Mercy’s adventures it’s rather probable that it will be longer. Much longer.
The series about Mercy Thompson is the most popular – and most beloved by fans – of Briggs’ works, and for a couple of reasons. One of them can be found here ;). The other is that Mercy Thompson series is a successful combination of very good worldbuilding, likeable, intriguing and psychologically believable characters, adventure, romance and a bit of politics. The creation of characters in Mercy’s world is indeed Briggs’ strong suit: from the main heroine, Mercy, a typical underdog, through the werewolves: Adam, Bran, Samuel and the rest (and I need to put Ben and Honey here ;)), to the fae and the vampires, and even to the local police or various federal agents. The same can be said for the convoluted, realistically drawn relationships which bind the lot of them together, setting them apart or against each other, forcing them to take a side. This is what I read those books for: to see how Mercy will get in trouble, and what will she do – and all the people (and non-people) around her – when she gets in there.