What Jia’s Been Reading, Week of August 16
The problem with finishing a long, intense read is that it’s hard for me to bounce back and dive into other books. The number of books I tossed aside this past week was alarmingly high. But these are the ones I stuck with and finished.
Heist Society by Ally Carter. I’m a big fan of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl books about the teenage spies so when I needed a change of pace from epic fantasy, I picked up her teenaged thief book. In itself, this is a great change of pace from all the YA paranormals out there. The protagonist comes from a family of thieves and is trying to go straight. But she gets dragged back into the family business when her father is targeted by a Russian mobster who thinks he stole something from him. The characters, especially the heroine, are smart and I thought the romantic subplot with Hale was great. If you’re into caper novels, put this on your list.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff. A YA novel told from the POV of the changeling. I’ve never been too into faeries but I was in the mood for something creepy. I liked this novel’s vision of faeries — ugly, twisted, grotesque. The town of Gentry has a long-standing pact with the local faeries: they sacrifice a child every seven years and the town has continued prosperity. It’s only superficial prosperity, of course, because while everyone knows what’s going on, no one talks about it. Classic recipe for resentment and bitterness. I liked how the book played with the idea of genetics versus environment. Are you born the way you are or does outside influences have any effect? It got me interested enough in Yovanoff’s writing that I’m looking forward to her forthcoming novel.
“Lady Blade” by Jenn Reese. A short story about a cursed sword imbued with the soul of a general’s wife. Meh. With short stories, I think they need a lot of oomph to make up for the short length. I thought the end peetered out. Might have worked better at novella length, because the various story elements never came together for me.
The Devil’s Garden by Jane Kindred. Reminded me quite a bit of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel books except with more magic and transgendered and genderqueer characters. Maybe more a cross between Jacqueline Carey and Storm Constantine then? A surprisingly layered story for a novella of this length. I probably would have enjoyed seeing this as a novel. I think it would have helped with the beginning, which had an overload of self-conscious worldbuilding that I almost stopped reading. But I kept on and was pleasantly surprised, although the ending might not be the uplifting resolution some readers expect. After finishing this, I’m interested in checking out Kindred’s debut novel coming out in a few months.
So what is everyone reading? Anyone read any of these? What did you think? Got any recommendations for caper novels, creepy reads, and authors who are reminiscent of Jacqueline Carey? (I feel like the last one is a popular refrain of many Carey fans, but it’s worth a shot.)