Book Reviews

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4) by Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4)  by Seanan McGuire (.jpg

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

Seanan McGuire is a wise goddamn writer and I don’t know where her soul gleans the emotional energy to keep producing these heartfelt stories.

In An Absent Dream is Book 4 in the Wayward Children series, but it can definitely be read first if you wanted to.

The main character, Lundy, is someone I can’t even remember from Book 1, but it is definitely worth it to visit her door because it is so unique.

The series is about kids who walk through magical doors, or portals (a la Narnia, Wonderland, Fillory, etc). The worlds they walk into are uniquely attuned to their deepest essences as humans, pointing to what feels like home, more than home ever did. But the types of worlds can be categorized in a spectrum between: wicked, logic, virtue and nonsense. (Check out the clever little chart up on Tor’s website: https://www.tor.com/2019/01/16/all-the-known-portal-worlds-of-seanan-mcguires-wayward-children-series-updated/ )

Lundy’s Goblin Market is the first high logic world we’re introduced to, meaning that it isn’t so over-the-top fantastical like the typical fairyland portal you see in books and movies everywhere.

The Market is governed by strict rules of fairness and logic that are both instinctual, yet not so straightforward that one can completely understand them 100% of the time. Fairness and the careful balancing of scales are of the utmost importance.

It’s strange, throughout the series I’ve always felt like the high logic worlds would be stifling and boring, yet with every new book it’s like “THIS!!! THIS IS MY DOOR!!!…” until the next book comes around. You might just feel the same way.

With the Goblin Market it’s as if Seanan McGuire had her hand RIGHT on the pulse of human rights injustices in our world in the last few years, and translated it into a story that could make anyone better understand just how illogical our own world is.

Highly recommended if you like fantasy, portal fiction, if you’ve followed the series this far, or if you’d like to read about a world where injustice is taken seriously, and fairness actually matters.

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Book Reviews

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

The Wicked King is a tad shorter than The Cruel Prince and it is also nowhere near as heart-wrenching and thrilling, but the story is no less intriguing and infuriating because you always know that something awful is going to happen but there’s no way to know until it’s already happening.

The Wicked King focuses on Jude as a badass character who will so not take any shit from anyone, that she ends up distancing herself from absolutely everyone. If literally ANYONE else in the Isles were telling the story, she would most definitely be the villain in their telling. 

This volume also includes a tiny bit more romance than the previous one (and it’s steamy this time). 

If you read and enjoyed The Cruel Prince, there’s no reason not to read this. Definitely recommended. 

I really hope the next book tears through the depths of my soul like the first one did. This one didn’t quite hit the mark. 

Book Reviews

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver by Naomi NovikRating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

Every blurb mentions how Spinning Silver is inspired by Rumpelstiltskin but frankly that’s an awful comparison and not one I would use to entice you to read this book, so forget about it right away. This is NOT a fairytale retelling. 

Spinning Silver is told from the perspectives of a few characters, but the main ones are three young heroines who display an admirable level of bravery and wisdom, unmatched by anyone else in their surroundings. Naomi Novik is a great writer and it’s interesting how she switches perspectives without outright naming the character (like in Game of Thrones), but you still know exactly who is talking at the time. 

Miryem, the main (and most entertaining) character, is quite cunning and naturally (magically?) skilled in producing and multiplying her family’s wealth. Almost like she can SPIN. SILVER. out of thin air. She goes through the world making advantageous exchanges for the utmost profit, and is someone whose language you have to pay close attention to. She will find the loopholes in everything and her ability to solve problems through smart wordplay instead of through violence or intrigue is a refreshing skill to see in fantasy. 

Miryem’s home is surrounded by magical woods populated by cold oppressive creatures known as the Staryk, who terrorize and starve the humans through never-ending winters. Miryem’s money-multiplying ability quickly catches the Staryk’s attention, and that’s when this book becomes super interesting. 

While I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down for about 4/5ths of it, somewhere near the end I lost interest because the perspectives of the characters switch too often, and as a result, the chronological order is briefly derailed. We lose track of Miryem for longer than I would’ve liked, but in the end it’s all worth it. 

I would recommend this to: people who want intelligent fantasy that isn’t awfully jargony, readers looking for a nice, thick standalone book to last them many nights, people who don’t mind stories told from the perspectives of multiple characters, and fans of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. 

Book Reviews

Hilda and the Hidden People (Hilda Tie-In #1) by Luke Pearson (Creator), Stephen Davies (Writer)

Hilda and the Hidden People (Hilda Tie-In #1) by Luke Pearson (Creator), Stephen Davies (Writer)

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁

I’m obsessed with everything Hilda, and after watching the Netflix show and reading the comics, I just had to read this too and I honestly can’t recommend that you do the same. 

The events in this book read almost exactly like the events in: Hilda and the Troll, Hilda and the Midnight Giant, and in Episode 1 of the show. The only alterations are tiny, insignificant details that feel forced, as if the author was instructed to change something just for the sake of it. 

In a book adaptation, I would hope there’s tons more content to make it enticing and worthwhile. Extra background information, little in-depth histories! Where the show and the comic are visual, a book has the luxury of space to go above and beyond, but there’s nothing of the sort here. 

Also, I’m sorry to say that this writer was not able to capture Hilda’s voice. The Hilda of this book reads like a spoiled brat lacking in compassion. She always gets her way despite other characters clearly expressing their discomfort, she is outright mean (even if she apologizes afterwards), and I would NOT want to be friends with this iteration of the character.

I would not recommend this to anyone, not even to fans of the show or the comics, or to parents who would prefer their children read a novel instead of a comic, it’s really not worth it when there’s already higher quality content elsewhere. 

The only plus are the cute illustrations in a limited color palette, but be aware that they are not done by the same artist as in the comics.

Book Reviews

Hilda and the Stone Forest (Hilda #5) by Luke Pearson

Hilda and the Stone Forest (Hilda #5) by Luke Pearson

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

Excitingly, this installment of Hilda veers completely away from the Netflix show! It shows us TONS more of the relationship with her mom, plus all the adventures with magical creatures that Hilda is still somehow able to find within the walls of Trolberg.

This volume ends in a very peculiar and supernatural cliffhanger that I never would’ve seen coming, and I can’t wait until the next one comes out! It has a strong nostalgic feel of dark European fantasy cartoons from when I was little. 

Book Reviews

Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh, Gregory White Smith

Van Gogh- The Life by Steven Naifeh,  Gregory White Smith.jpgRating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

The title of this book is a bit misleading. More than just “The Life”, this book is more like “Literally Every Single Day in the Life of Vincent Van Gogh”. 

I am floored by how much information exists on this man, and it’s no wonder this endeavor took a whole decade for the authors to complete. 

One fact is clear though, if you are thinking about reading this to learn more about his artwork, STOP. RIGHT. THERE. The many members of the Van Gogh family were used to sending letters to each other on a regular basis, sometimes multiple times a week, and in Vincent’s case, even multiple times a day. Because of these letters, this book is often able to tell you exactly what happened on every single day of any given week in December 1882.

It is dense and tedious, but if you would like to know every minuscule biographical detail that shaped Van Gogh’s life, this is the book you want to read. But if you specifically want to learn more about his artworks from an aesthetic and technical standpoint, I would not recommend this.

However, this book does tell you <i>exactly</i> where he was and what was going through his head when creating certain artworks. It goes into great detail about The Potato Eaters, for example. Other artworks are glossed over or simply mentioned as being created during a particular time. So if you are doing some research for school, or would like to know about his headspace when creating a certain artwork, I would recommend skimming through until you find the relevant bit. 

These authors were also the first to introduce the theory that Van Gogh did not die by suicide, and the last chapter explains their deductive reasoning thoroughly and convincingly. I, for one, fully agree with them. 

It took me a year to read this and I couldn’t have done it without daily reading goals and mammoth motivation.

Would recommend to: highly motivated readers, researchers and students who just need to browse through it to write or present a biography for school. 

Would not recommend to: people wanting to learn more about Van Gogh’s art specifically. While there is some background information you can glean from here and maybe some hypotheses you could build through this information, this is about Vincent Van Gogh the man, and not just the artwork. 

Book Reviews

El círculo del fuego blanco by Lara Ríos

El círculo del fuego blancoENGLISH BELOW

Rating: 🍁

Este libro falla en su intento de emular el género de fantasía juvenil, lo cual es triste porque no hay tantos buenos ejemplos de él en Español como los hay en Inglés (y desearía que los hubieran).

Simplemente, este libro es aburrido. La mayoría de la historia es gastada en exposición, con muy pocos eventos o sucesos. La protagonista no tiene iniciativa, ella no hace nada a través de su coraje, o sabiduría o cualquier otra habilidad o atributo memorable, y simplemente sigue las instrucciones que recibe de parte de otros personajes que no tienen porqué no haber resuelto el problema ellos mismos. Se sintió como si dos tercios del libro fueron gastados dándole instrucciones sólo para que ella pudiera completarlas en unas cuantas páginas, y ya, con eso el libro termina. 

También se detienen así como de la nada para rezarle a Dios… ¿para que los ayude a resolver el problema que ya de por sí van a resolver? No sé, yo crecí en el mismo país católico que esta autora y me imagino que lo incluyó como una costumbre común, pero dentro del contexto del libro se sintió fuera de lugar ya que no le agrega nada a la historia, y la historia sería igual si el rezo no estuviera ahí. 

También es súper evidente como la autora fue influenciada por A Wrinkle in Time de Madeleine L’Engle, al punto de que uno podría alegar (y me duele decirlo) que hubo plagio. Hay tres personajes ancianos y místicos conocidos como: el Señorpresente, el Señorfuturo, y el Señorpasado. Me parece demasiada la coincidencia, además considerando que el libro trata sobre una niña que viaja a otro mundo para salvar a un familiar. 

No le recomendaría este libro a nadie. 

——— 

This book fails in its attempt to emulate the middle grade fantasy genre; which is unfortunate because there aren’t as many great examples of it in Spanish as there are in English (and I wish there were more). 

It is just plain boring. Most of the book is spent on exposition, with few events actually happening. The protagonist has no initiative, she doesn’t DO anything out of her own bravery, wisdom or any other memorable skill or attribute, and she simply follows the instructions that she is given by other characters who have no reason to not have solved the problem themselves. It felt like two thirds of the book were spent on giving her instructions just so she could complete them within the span of a couple of pages and then the book was over.

They also randomly stop and pray for God to help them solve the problem that she is already going to solve anyway? I don’t know, I grew in the same Catholic country as this author and I can see how she probably included it as a commonplace thing, but it just felt random and out of place to me since it didn’t add anything to the story and the story wouldn’t change if you took it away. 

It’s also too evident how the author was influenced by A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, to the point that one could say (and it hurts me to do so) that there is plagiarism. There’s three mystical, old characters known as: Misterpast, Misterfuture and Misterpresent. It seems like too much of a coincidence when you pair it with a young girl who travels to another world to save a family member.

I would not recommend this book to anyone.