Monday, February 18, 2019
Nanoreviews: The Breath of the Sun, Chaos Choreography, Magic for Nothing
Fellman, Rachel. The Breath of the Sun [Aqueduct Press, 2018]
The Breath of the Sun is a novel about the journey, not a destination. Rachel Fellman's debut novel is a deeply thoughtful meditation on mountain climbing, religion, relationships, regret, loss, and probably more.
There is a mountain so large the peak isn't visible and special suits are required to even attempt a serious attempt at a summit, a mountain so large it is revered as a god. There might be magic, it might be a less understood form of science. The story of The Breath of the Sun isn't about conquering of a god or about some mystical adventure. It's a personal story, an intense and icy travelogue, a character study, and it is absolutely wonderful.
McGuire, Seanan. Chaos Choreography [DAW, 2016]
After two novels focusing on Alex Price, Seanan McGuire returns to the protagonist of the first two novels of the Incryptid series Verity Price. Verity has given up her dreams of competitive dance and has turned to the family trade of being a cryptozoologist, dedicated to preserving and protecting those non human creatures the rest of the world only believes are myth (if even that). That is, until she gets a call to participate in an all-star season of Dance or Die, the reality dancing show she was once a runner up on.
Chaos Choreography is the fifth Incrytpid novel, so by this point you have a really good idea of what you're going to get. For a fifth novel, this is a surprisingly good place to jump into the series since McGuire does enough of the work to smooth the ride. Sure, you won't be nodding your head in understanding certain callbacks, but you have what you need. If you haven't been following the series, you get: a good dose of "weird" creatures being perfectly normal, conspiracy, action, murder, cultural understanding (and misunderstanding), attempts to be better, wise cracks, tension, and excitement. We learn more of Verity's family and the wider crytpid world. It's a delight.
McGuire, Seanan. Magic for Nothing [DAW, 2017]
Magic for Nothing is the sixth Incryptid novel and the first to feature Antimony, the youngest of the Price siblings. Magic for Nothing is all about the fallout from Verity's actions at the end of Chaos Choreography. The Covenant of St. George knows that Verity is alive and they're coming for the Price family. How to get some intelligence about what the Covenant is planning? Send Antimony under cover.
By this point you either trust McGuire to tell a hell of a story or you don't, and if you don't there's no reason to be reading this far into a series. McGuire tells one hell of a story and with Magic or Nothing we get our first look inside the Covenant as well as a deep dive under cover at a circus (plus a little roller derby). Through the first five novels Antimony has been a character mentioned, referred to and described, but never seen. There's been an outside view suggesting that she's a nearly homicidal child, but the truth is never that simple and Antimony is a far richer character than we could have guessed (besides being written by McGuire, which then we just know that she will be). Maybe don't start reading Incryptid with Magic for Nothing, but absolutely keep reading the series because this is another satisfying novel from Seanan McGuire.
POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 & 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan.