Saturday, March 30, 2013

Emilie and the Hollow World, Martha Wells

Vintage, £7.99
   It's been a really eventful few weeks. One bookselling job ended abruptly last week; another stretches out in front of me (after a couple of weeks off, yay!). I've had more time than usual to read, but circumstances have conspired to make me want to enjoy the comfort of some re-reading. I re-loved Jasper Fforde's 'One of Our Thursdays is Missing', and of course my ultimate comfort-reading - some Harry Potter. I got hold of a couple of Fred Vargas titles, and picked 'The Three Evangelists' to read first. I've unfortunately since discovered that this title is the first in another series of novels the French author has written around the main characters of the titular 'evangelists' - Matthieu, Marc, and Lucien - as opposed to one featuring her most famous character - Parisian detective Commissaire Adamsberg. I enjoyed it despite its Adamsberglessness, and luckily didn't find it as disturbing as I often find her novels (they usually disturb me because the slightest hint of menace or freakishness in her clear prose cuts straight to the most terrified part of my cautious soul).
   My main read during this past week has been another advance copy I received from the
Strange Chemistry, £7.99
generous folk at Strange Chemistry - 'Emilie and the Hollow World' by Martha Wells, released on Tuesday April 2nd. Look how pretty the cover is!
   Emilie is a smart, brave teenage girl with ambitions beyond the small provincial town in which she has been brought up by relations after her mother ran away The story opens as Emilie attempts to stow away on a ship on its way to the city, where she hopes to attend school. Her plan quickly goes awry, and Emilie ends up on a mysterious round vessel called The Sovereign, where she gets caught up in the adventure of a lifetime. You can read Chapter One on the author's website here
   Emilie could have been a very clichéd 'plucky teenage girl' character, but Wells deftly avoids that pitfall and has created a really likeable girl - inexperienced, but brave, intelligent, and resourceful. Her relationships with a female mentor and new friends of various species in the course of her adventures are believable and affecting. I'd certainly recommend this one. It's a fantastical adventure in the spirit of Verne and (my favourite) Stephen Hunt, author of 'The Court of the Air' and 'The Kingdom Beyond the Waves' (while perhaps not rising to the heights of that modern-day master). If you enjoy this one, you should definitely try Hunt next. 
HarperCollins, £12.99
    Another book I'd been eagerly anticipating and finally read recently is 'The Daylight War', the third book in Peter V. Brett's acclaimed Demon Cycle series. For some reason, I had the impression (I think from early publicity around the preceding books) that this book was to be the conclusion of a trilogy. As I read, I was confused as to the lack of resolution and the pace, which didn't seem to suit a dramatic finale of epic proportions. Of course, when I reached the end of the book, I realised that this was in fact not a conclusion at all. It made for a strange reading experience, and I've resolved to do more research in future before diving into any book. Given that there shouldn't have been any change in pace or any appearance of full resolution, 'The Daylight War' was an entirely satisfying read. While I feel that neither this book nor 'The Desert Spear' (book 2) reached the potential hinted at in 'The Painted Man', the amazing first instalment of the Demon Cycle, it once again delves deeply into the backstory of one of the most intriguing characters of the series, as well as bringing the story to new and exciting places with information on the corelings 'hive' at the Core. If you haven't already read one or all of these books... I just don't know what kind of rock you must have been hiding under for the last few years, but it's time to come out now!
   The next few reads I have lined up are 'The Lives of Tao' by Wesley Chu (released May 2nd by Angry Robot), 'Reviver' by Seth Patrick (released June 20th by Pan MacMillan), and 'The Dragons of Ordinary Farm' by Tad Williams and Deborah Beale (one from my 'Books About Dragons' list!). 

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