When you say “fantasy” to many people, they think of high fantasy, like The Lord of the Rings, but the world of fantasy is much broader than that (though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with well-written high fantasy!), covering everything from fairy tale-like stories to magical takes on worlds we thinks we know well. Come check out some of the new fantasy at the Field Library and see for yourself.
I am as much a sucker for Sherlock Holmes pastiches as anyone, and am a big fan of author Mercedes Lackey, so I’m delighted to announce that she’s come out with a book called A Study in Sable, which takes the Sherlock Holmes canon into new realms, giving us a new look at some familiar characters and introducing us to new characters. In an alternate Great Britain, Nan Killian is a psychic, and Sarah Lyon-White is a medium, and they are working for the Wizard of London. He sends them on an important case to work with the genius at 221 Baker Street, but not the one at 221B Baker Street (known to all Conan Doyle fans as the home of Sherlock Holmes), but the less famous couple right next door at 221C Baker Street, John Watson and his wife, Mary, who are elemental masters of water and air in their own right, and who take on those supernatural cases Holmes disdains. This case brings them into a confrontation with a deadly entity that nearly killed Nan and Sarah when they were children, and, as if that weren’t enough, a famous diva hires Sarah to help her fight off a multitude of spirits which are threatening her. The prima donna’s case turns out to be much more dangerous and far-reaching than anyone anticipated, and it will take all the skills of the famous couple and the two women to come out alive.
In another alternate reality, a war very much like our World War II is being fought in A Green and Ancient Light, by Frederic C. Durbin, and in that version of England, a nine year old boy whose father has been conscripted into the armed forces is sent away to stay with his grandmother he hardly knows. Her home, like the homes of all grandmothers in fairy tales, is at the edge of a mysterious forest. This one contains strange monstrous statues which may hold the key to the entrance to Fairy, and the local people are, of course, reluctant to go near the woods. Problems arise when an enemy plane is shot down and lands in the woods. The boy and his grandmother must then decide what to do with the man, whether to hide him or turn him over to the authorities, but when you’re dealing with a magical place, things are never quite so simple. The book has been compared to Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane (a book I totally love), and to the movies of Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak), so if you love a timeless read with lovely writing and moving characters, this is the book to sink into.
For something a little darker, try Roses and Rot, by Kat Howard. We start, in classic fairy tale style, with two sisters living under the tyranny of a horrible mother (yes, in fairy tales it’s usually a horrible stepmother, but Imogen, our protagonist, can’t imagine how any awful stepmother could be worse than her biological mother), controlling and abusive. Imogen managed to escape her mother by going to a boarding school, but that meant leaving her sister, Marin, behind to suffer whatever their mother wanted to inflict on her. Years later, both Marin and Imogen end up together at a very special post-graduate arts program where they can reconnect, where Imogen can develop her skills as a writer and Marin as a dancer. They can even share a room together, which is almost like getting a chance to relive their childhood without the terrors of their mother. It’s just like a fairy tale, except that fairy tales have deep dark spots, and this one is no exception. Ultimately it’s about sisterhood and magic and sacrifice, and all good things come with a price.