This is the second book in what I hope will be a lengthy series. The plot in this book follows Charlie, who was a lesser character in "The Enchantment Emporium." I really like the idea that she works much of her magic through her music. The other character who takes a step forward in this book is Jack. I really liked him in "Enchantment" so I was glad to see him get more time onstage in this story. Many of the other characters from the previous book are back again too. The Aunties are busy making pies and annoying phone calls again. Even the magic mirror is back, handing out its usual enigmatic hints. And Alysha's Gran is once again lurking in the background, trying to manipulate everyone (for their own good, of course).
I'm happy to say that I liked Erin Moon's narration better than the narrator for "Enchantment". She made no attempt at Irish or Chinese accents, but she did a much better job with everything else.
If you like urban fantasy, I think you'll enjoy this one. A lot.
This is a great book. I've been wishing for a long time that Audible would get it. I've read it over and over again through the years, and I'm happy to say that now I'll be able to listen to it over and over again because Bronson Pinchot does a wonderful job with the characters' voices.
I'm not sure that this is really a fantasy. It has swords and seems to have sorcery, but the magic gets explained in such a way that it seems to (almost) be advanced science. But it has the feel of fantasy. If Heinlein wrote this book today, the publisher would have insisted on a 20-book series, and I truly think our hero Oscar Gordon could have provided it to us.
Heinlein was born more than a hundred years ago, and attitudes toward male/female relations were different then. But just as we do not hold Shakespeare or Homer to 21st Century societal norms, so we must give Heinlein a pass here as well. He was trying.
I think that any young man who likes science fiction or fantasy will like this adventure story. And I think that women who can release their grip on modern feminism for the space of a few hours will like it as well.
Get this book.
Robin McKinley's protagonists are usually young women. In this book the main character is a teenage boy. That boy is telling his story in the first person, and it is a story which he finds hard to tell. So in the beginning the story seems rough, clumsily written. This is not a sign that Robin McKinley is a poor writer. It's an indicator that she is a masterful writer, and she is telling the story not in her own voice, but in the voice of that inexperienced young man.
And it is a wonderful story.
In much science fiction and fantasy, the aliens or talking creatures simply seem like humans in funny looking costumes. But the dragons in this story truly seem alien in their being. Their thoughts and attitudes are not human. Their point of view is not human. And they don't find it any easier to understand humans than humans can understand them.
If you have read her most popular books (The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword, Beauty, etc.), please don't go into this one expecting more of the same or you may be disappointed. This book is fairly different from most of her books. It needs to be taken on its own. But if you can leave all your preconceptions at the door, I think you will find this a story well worth reading.
A word about the narrator. I think his voice fits the main character admirably. He did a good job.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
This book has been getting some buzz lately. While I'm not as gushy about it as the majority seem to be (for reasons I'll get to in a bit), it's a nice work of urban fantasy, with a creative premise and a level of writing that's a cut above the norm. The setting is a lyrical New York City circa 1900, with its patchwork communities of immigrants and workers, its seedy, dangerous neighborhoods, and its idle, wealthy aristocracy walled off in their palatial estates. Into this storied place come two creatures out of myth. One is a golem, a woman made from clay by an unsavory old man with knowledge of the occult arts, then given life-like features. She is brought into existence in Poland to serve as a wife for a sad sack of a man who is about to use the last of his squandered family fortune to emigrate to the US. However, he dies midway through the ocean voyage, leaving the golem to continue on her own, masterless, after the boat docks at Ellis Island.
The other lead character is the jinni, a being of fire who was captured by a Syrian wizard, fixed in human form, then imprisoned in a flask. Centuries later, a metalsmith living in a Syrian neighborhood of New York accidently releases him.
Wrecker does a lovely job with her creations' personalities. The golem, based on the robot-like creature of Jewish legend, has a stolid, practical temperament, and struggles to navigate the confusing human world without a master to give her direction. Instead, she finds herself animated by the needs of *everyone* around her -- though they pull in such conflicting directions, the net effect is a sort of free will. For her, being a capable worker, it's a world she can find a place in, but not one where she feels entirely happy or safe.
The Jinni on the other hand, is a tempestuous, restless being, capable of making a good living as a craftsman, but too independent to take direction well and easily frustrated by the rigid social rules of the human world. He takes to wandering the streets at night, making new acquaintances in both low and high places, and searching for secrets about his forgotten past. Naturally, these two protagonists encounter each other, and develop a friendship that starts in mutual curiosity, then continues through mutual exasperation, then deepens as they begin to expand each other's understanding of the world and their lives intertwine with the humans around them. It's a lovely odd-couple story, helped even more by audiobook narrator George Guidall’s capable reading of the two central personas.
The novel's strength lies in Wrecker’s unhurried, descriptive passages, which beautifully evoke turn-of-20th-century urban America, the noise of trains, the grit and grime of cobblestone streets, the daily hustles, worries, and woes of her characters, and the general press and jostle of humanity. The two inhuman protagonists both have their own perspectives on this world, on relationships, religion, morality, and two separate immigrant communities that exist streets away, but worlds apart. It’s fun to watch their views play off each other, never quite agreeing, but deepening one another.
However, I found other aspects of the book underwhelming. The side characters aren’t very interesting. After the midpoint of the story, the fantasy elements begin to dominate the plot and the drama becomes a little forced. The action in the final chapters unfolds in somewhat of a jumbled, rushed way. More attention from an editor would have helped.
For me, though, the strengths of this one outdo the weaknesses. If you like novels that mix history, magic realism, and escapism, check it out. 3.5 stars.