Oct 31

PW’s Best Books of 2014

lake-ourladyOur Lady of the Islands by Jay Lake and Shannon Page has been chosen as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best SF/Fantasy/Horror books of 2014!

PW says: “Sian Kattë and her husband have an amicable empty-nest marriage and a thriving business, but that all changes when a god’s emissary assaults Sian and gives her mystical healing abilities that threaten the dominance of the male physician-priests. Longtime short fiction collaborators Lake and Page worked closely on this intimate novel (set in Lake’s Green universe) before Lake’s death in mid-2014, and their styles intersect with smooth perfection.”

Oct 27

Publishers Weekly on Jacaranda by Cherie Priest

Jacaranda by Cherie Priest

This gripping postscript to Priest’s Clockwork Century series (which officially concluded with Fiddlehead) takes readers to the titular Galveston, Tex., haunted hotel, in an alternate 1895 seasoned with ghosts and gears. Father Rios is a former gunslinger cursed with second sight and a dark past. When Sister Eileen contacts him about the dozens who have died in the hotel, he visits ahead of an impending hurricane and soon witnesses the horrors firsthand. The hotel’s guests all have dark secrets, and the violence with which the hotel disposes of them is all the more horrifying as it takes place off-page, leaving only the aftermath for the characters to discover. Priest is hardly covering new ground, but the American steampunk setting gives the classic evil haunted house a nice new coat of paint. Rios is a great protagonist, full of conflicts and doubts, and he drives the tale well. While the story stands on its own, it also provides some melancholy closure for fans of Priest’s earlier books. — Publishers Weekly

Oct 22

Starred Publishers Weekly review for new Jay Lake novel

lake-ourladyOur Lady of the Islands by Jay Lake and Shannon Page

This satisfying feminist tale ­set in an underexplored corner of Lake’s lush, mythical Green universe (Green, etc.) but entirely accessible to new readers­features an empathetic middle-aged, middle-class protagonist managing the roles of businesswoman, mother and grandmother, fugitive, and unwilling savior with realism and grace. Clothing merchant Sian Kattë is assaulted by the charismatic rogue priest of the Butchered God, an encounter that grants her the unwanted power to heal by touch. Sian and her new abilities are misunderstood by her husband, lover, and daughter. She is hunted by the Mishrah-Khote physician-priests, who believe only men can be healers and accuse her of fraud, and manipulated by politically-minded relatives who insist that she stay away from both the public and her distant cousin’s dying son. Undaunted, Sian pursues her divine mission and encounters unexpected help from a woman in disguise; together they turn the second half of the book into a celebration of female friendship and cooperation. Page (Eastlick and other Stories) has done a phenomenal job of completing Lake’s work after his death, honoring his contributions and vision while giving the novel an emotionally authentic, coherent voice. — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Sep 25

RT Book Reviews on Last Plane to Heaven by Jay Lake

lake-lastplanetoheavenLast Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection by Jay Lake

This posthumously published collection of Lake’s short stories, spanning decades, was planned and put together by Lake himself. At first I was worried that I’d be unable to disconnect the emotion of Lake’s personal story with the impartiality required of reviewing, but Lake’s fantastic writing and worldbuilding made that worry irrelevant. This collection is well worth the time and investment; even the weakest story stands out. Readers will find themselves justifying the read of one more story before bed and discover they are awake well into the wee hours of the night. None of the stories are less than well-written and Lake’s voice is strongest in the stories where he ties in military roughness with his impressive imagination. — RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

Sep 4

RT Book Reviews on Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

priest-maplecroftMaplecroft by Cherie Priest

Priest takes the epistolary format H.P. Lovecraft was fond of and uses it to far better effect, both in terms of characterization and horror. Her protagonists (Lizzie, her sister, her lover Nance O’Neil and the friendly Dr. Seabury) are extremely well drawn even as the nerve and mind-shredding events of 1895 drive them apart. Priest skillfully makes the menace around them specific and concrete while also remaining shadowy and unknowable, achieving maximum impact. Putting real historical characters in genre settings is an idea that’s seemed tired for a while, but this novel shows how compelling it can still be in the right hands. — RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 stars

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