Reviews :: Book Genre :: Fantasy

This archive contains links to all of the Fantasy Book Reviews we've written over the years. There are literally oodles of them. We might like us some fantasy in this corner over there. If you've come here looking for something in that realm, you're in luck! We just happen to have more than a few suggestions lying around the place waiting for your perusal.

If you're looking for something else, say a book in another genre or maybe just any book that we happened to think was awesome-sauce, browse around the site for a bit and check out our reviews.

Just don't forget to let us know what you thought of a book you've read or if there's a suggestion you have for something we'd like to read! We're always looking for the next dragon, or swordfight, or killer magic system to wrastle.

Review

The Library of the Unwritten

Posted: December 3, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: A.J. Hackwith, Fantasy, fantasy
The Library of the Unwritten

If you’re into books-about-books, A.J. Hackwith’s novel, THE LIBRARY OF THE UNWRITTEN (Amazon), explores the power of stories and imagination. If that sounds corny and sunshiny–DON’T PANIC. This novel is literally set in Hell; there’s plenty of stabby demons, and betrayals, and grumpy librarians who need more tea and less talking. While the overarching drive of the novel is a race between Hell and Heaven to solve a mystery, Hackwith’s characters and their interactions take center stage.
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Review

Crown of Coral and Pearl

Posted: November 5, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: Mara Rutherford, Fantasy, Young Adult
Crown of Coral and Pearl

Mara Rutherford’s debut novel, CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL (Amazon), follows twin sisters Nor and Zadie who have spent their entire lives being (literally) groomed to be the next queen of Ilara. Nor and Zadie’s mother is obsessed with ensuring one her daughters becomes queen, and after Nor scars her face on a blood coral, their mother turns all her efforts on Zadie.

When Zadie is indeed chosen to be the next queen, she defies everyone’s expectations and secretly injures herself, making it impossible for her to travel from the small island nation of Varenia to Ilara. The last time the Varenians sent ‘the wrong girl’, Ilara cut off supplies to Varenia for weeks. Desperate to avoid another reprisal, the village sends Nor masquerading as Zadie.
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Review

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

Posted: October 18, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Alexis Hall, Fantasy
The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

There are heaps of stories about Sherlock Holmes. Mountains of them. Oceans of them. Even if you dive down and start looking only at queer Sherlock Holmes re-imaginings, or alternate-reality-Sherlock-Holmes re-tellings, or gender-swapped Sherlock reworkings… well, you’re going to be here for a while.
THE AFFAIR OF THE MYSTERIOUS LETTER rolls a little bit of all of these variations together and while the result is absolutely bonkers, it’s also delightful.
Author Alexis Hall goes straight for the wild and weird. He does not set his version of Sherlock in a slightly-different-but-still-recognizable London. Or even a deliberately-not-London-but-clearly-still-familiar locale. Nope. THE AFFAIR OF THE MYSTERIOUS LETTER is set in the city of Kelathra-Ven, a cosmopolitan gathering place in a world full of witch kings, Eternal Lords, re-animated corpses, vampires, and inter dimensional portals.
It’s a big swing, but what keeps the reader grounded, rather than afloat in the rush […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

Gods of Jade and Shadow

Posted: October 15, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Urban Fantasy
Gods of Jade and Shadow

From the cover: “The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she find a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it–and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.”
I spent some time thinking about this book since I finished it, not really sure how to write this review. The book was simultaneously straightforward storytelling but also unexpected. The characters were recognizable but foreign. And the ending was surprising yet also what it should have been. GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW is the kind […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

A Little Hatred

Posted: October 10, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Joe Abercrombie, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
A Little Hatred

So, it’s been a while since we’ve had a book like this from Abercrombie. Real quick US publication timeline for those of you that aren’t immediately aware: 3 years since Sharp Ends (last short stories), 4 years since Half a War (last YA), 7 years since Red Country (last stand-alone), and 11 years since The Last Argument of Kings (last series book). Thus, I’d be painting the canvas pretty thin indeed if I were to say, for instance, that I was stupid-excited to finally read this thing. I won a contest over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist back in the day and inherited all three books of the original First Law trilogy, published by Pyr. Was the beginning of my first love affair with the works of Abercrombie. Guy just knows how to do story right, and I was hoping that he’d continue that trend. His response was a little bit “Yes”… and a little bit “No”.
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Review

Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures

A few months ago I hit up a small fantasy and science fiction convention just north of me. The guests of honor were Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton. Was loads of fun to see both of them. Jim was hilarious and engaging, with a head of long blue hair, and was so much more of a nerd (to my delight) than I figured he’d be. Laurell was calm and collected, had load of insightful comments, and was way shorter than I thought she’d be. Course, I’m no slouch in that department. So, it’s all relative. In the main, I was very impressed by both of them. I came away from that con feeling energized and happy that I’d gone. Near the end, Laurell made a plea in one of her panels for all of us to write reviews of every book we read. They did more good for authors than we realized, she said. Now, granted. The Anita Blake series probably didn’t need another book review done for it. There are plenty enough as it is. But this whole EBR gig is a pretty big part of who I am, and so I went away from that con with the determination to give her a book review. So here it is.
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Review

The Princess Beard

Posted: September 24, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Delilah S. Dawson, Kevin Hearne, Fantasy, Humor
The Princess Beard

If you read the first two books — KILL THE FARM BOY and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD GNOMES — you will discover that THE PRINCESS BEARD has much the same tone, a silly storyline, and genre twisting galore. Yep, it’s as fun as the first two. Let’s dig in, shall we?
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Review

Legend

Posted: September 13, 2019 by Writer Dan in Elitist Classics Meta: David Gemmell, Fantasy, Heroic Fantasy
Legend

After publishing our first “Best of Genre” page, one of our readers suggested that we pick up something by David Gemmell. Gemmell is an author that I’ve been meaning to read for like… mmm, forever. Back in the day, I got started on Dragonlance though, and after my first taste of that series, I really didn’t wander into other books all that much. Still, there’s a freaking award named after this guy (one that I hope never gets renamed) and that has to mean something of significance, right? Luckily, I found a slightly used copy of Legend at a local used book store for like four bucks (total steal for me!) and dove into it.
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Review

Like Never and Always

Posted: September 10, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: Ann Aguirre, Fantasy, Young Adult
Like Never and Always

Grounded by a sympathetic narrator, Ann Aguirre’s LIKE NEVER AND ALWAYS (Amazon) is a largely successful exploration of identity–with a supernatural twist… and plenty of kissing.

Liv and Morgan are best friends, and have been since they were in elementary school together. Morgan is flawlessly, effortlessly cool. She’s fashionable, arty, and very wealthy. Liv is a little more down to earth, with an interest in science and a loving family.

When Liv is thrown from a car after a tragic accident while driving with Morgan and their boyfriends (who are brothers!), she wakes up to find that her soul is stuck in Morgan’s body.
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Review

Shadowblade

Posted: September 6, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Hate Meta: Anna Kashina, Fantasy
Shadowblade

You can tell a lot about worldbuilding by the curse words.

I think this holds particularly true for the constructed swearwords, the ones that are supposed to give the reader a hint of ‘in-world’ flavor. A well constructed curse can be a great way to learn about societal taboos, religion, and character values.

Cursing is also a great way to show character: who swears the most? The least? The most creatively? In Anna Kashina’s SHADOWBLADE (Amazon) all the characters, regardless of class, race, or gender, all curse identically. “Dear Sel” is the invocation/epithet of choice about ninety percent of the time.

And I want to be clear here. I’m not saying that I need (or want) LOTS of cursing in a novel. But variety matters. It’s something I don’t notice until, like in SHADOWBLADE, someone says or thinks “Dear Sel” for the umpteenth time and it rings false, because it’s the only curse word I’ve seen for two hundred pages.

It’s a relatively small issue, but it’s indicative that the quality of the worldbuilding (and sometimes the characters) is shallow. And that indicator held true for Anna Kashina’s SHADOWBLADE.
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