I'd love to report that Harlequin's new Luna line of romantic fantasy had been launched with a bang (or at least a shower of magical sparks)--a wonderful, fresh new classic of romantic science fiction and fantasy like ARCHANGEL, SORCERY AND CECELIA, or WAR FOR THE OAKS. While I can't say that, the good news is that Mercedes Lackey's THE FAIRY GODMOTHER is a solid piece of escapist entertainment, worth curling up with on a cold winter's night.
Elena has always felt that her life was supposed to be different, that she was intended to be something more than a drudge for her cruel stepmother and stepsisters. Yet nothing out of the ordinary ever happened to her. [...] She is taken on as an apprentice by the local Fairy Godmother, and learns why some people lead (literally) fairytale lives--a frustrated fairytale in the case of Elena, who would have been a Cinderella figure if only the nearest prince had been the appropriate age.
[...] Her attempts to instigate change begin to affect Elena's own life in unforeseen ways, especially after she transforms an arrogant prince into a donkey to teach him a lesson in humility. It works--but then Elena is faced with a newly-charming prince bent on courting her. The romance between Elena and her prince is sweet and relatively uncomplicated, at least after he learns how not to be an ass anymore, and would have worked just as well without the strictly routine love scenes.
The relative ease of Prince Alexander's conversion from boor to paragon highlights another problem; almost no villain in The Fairy Godmother is irredeemable. It seems that all one needs in order to become a better person is a short sharp lesson courtesy of magic, or a chance at true love, or both. While heartwarming, that doesn't seem appropriate for a world that draws on folktales in which nasty people are regularly punished in equally nasty ways.
Lackey's imagination is at its best showing just how strongly magic in the Five Hundred Kingdoms wants to flow into its accustomed channels, whether that be cursing a princess at her christening or making a maiden in distress fall in love with her rescuer. She has set up a world with an intriguing premise and nearly limitless possibilities for storytelling. A return visit in the future would be welcome.--Danielle
The December 2003 Locus contains interviews with writers M. John Harrison and Jon Courtenay Grimwood, a report from this year's World Fantasy Awards banquet, and forthcoming books listings for the US and Britain, through September 2004.
Some news: --Jacqueline Carey has moved from Tor to Warner with "The Imriel Trilogy", featuring some characters from her "Kushiel" books. --Delia Sherman will write urban fantasy THE CHANGELING for Sharyn November at Viking. --Jane Yolen & Patrick Nielsen Hayden will edit THE YEAR'S BEST YOUNG ADULT SF & FANTASY STORIES, covering 2004, for Tor Teen. --Sharon Shinn delivered MYSTIC AND RIDER to Ace. --Dawn Cook delivered fantasy THE DECOY PRINCESS to Ace. --Wen Spencer delivered DOG WARRIOR to Roc. --Laura Anne Gilman turned in STAYING DEAD, first in a new urban fantasy trilogy, to Mary-Theresa Hussey at Luna.
Locus is also reporting that Laura Anne Gilman is leaving Roc to pursue her writing career. (As Preeti says -- "Bummer. I suspect it was Gilman's taste in books that made Roc my favorite imprint for finding great new authors.")
First of all, Laws of the Blood is a pretty dark environment. These are not *nice* vampires. However, they are an interesting concept. They apparently don't need to drink blood daily, and appear to survive nicely on steaks and lemonade. However, they feed off the emotions of their human lovers and victims and regularly need to set up a hunt where a human victim is hunted down, killed and eaten, and where the vampires gorge on the emotions of said victim as s/he is hunted down and destroyed. This vampire world is ruled by the Laws of the Blood, some archaic decrees handed down by very old vampires, wherein any human is either food or a slave, and maintaining their existence secret paramount.
The enforcers of these laws are the Nighthawks, who are even more monstrous than vampires. They hunt misbehaving vampires, and eating the heart of their victim is their reward. Gory stuff, but Sizemore manages to paint this delicately in her HEROES book...
While this may not qualify as SFR, I think it's a good read, especially as it introduces an interesting future possibility: a romance between two Nighthawks.
The plot takes place in Las Vegas, where there is a vampire revolt against the Nighthawks brewing, while a greedy human magician takes a hold of dark magic artifacts (handed down from the ancient city of vampires...) and creates havoc. The death and destruction are barely noticed by mortals, incidently, as everything is a good show in Las Vegas.
The venue makes for some dark humor. This book was fun to read. The kick-ass heroines are the current boring standard of quasi-invincible righteousness with a mouth. The heroes are interesting. The stunning egoism of everyone in this little world is coherent.
I do recommend this book, and suspect the next one will be more of a SFR in flavor.--Leila
PALADIN OF SOULS -- Lois McMaster Bujold Below par for Bujold, which means it was still pretty damn good, but I didn't adore it the way I do many of her books. I may have been distracted (not feeling too well) when reading, so I'll give it another read in a few months.--JW more...
SKYFALL -- Catherine Asaro Enjoyable, but not stunning. I enjoyed the developing relationship a great deal, but was less interested in the politics and so on.--JW
BLADE DANCER -- S.L. Viehl I recommend this book also. Lots of aliens, a tough heroine, a good plot, and action!! I actually liked BLADE DANCER better than Viehl's last Stardoc book. One reason for this was that I liked the romance better, another reason was the prominence of the Jorenians in this book.--Linda more...