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your favourite fantasy fiction of 2013

I've noted that no-one has posted a list of the best fantasy fiction they read in 2013. Would anyone like to share such a list with us?

The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells

Dragonriderskin of Two MoonsThree Worlds.

The Cloud Roads

Night Shade Books, 2011, 278 pages

Moon has spent his life hiding what he is - a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself... someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community. What this stranger doesn't tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power... that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony's survival... and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell! Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save himself... and his newfound kin.

It took me a while to figure out why this book was annoying me so much.

My complete list of book reviews.

favourite fantasy reads of 2013

My favourite fantasy reads of 2013:

Charles Beadle, The Land of Ophir. Fun lost world tale. Published in 1922.

Joseph E. Badger Jr, The Lost City. Another lost world tale, plus it has airships and Aztecs. Published in 1898.

H. Rider Haggard, Ayesha - The Return of She. The sequel to his masterpiece, She. Published in 1905.

E. Charles Vivian, City of Wonder. Yet another lost civilisation tale. Published in 1922.

City of Wonder

City of Wonder, published in 1922, is the best known of E. Charles Vivian’s lost world adventure novels. If anyone's interested I've reviewed it here on my Vintage Pop Fictions blog.

Yellow Men Sleep (AKA The Fragment Web)

Jeremy Lane’s lost world fantasy story was first published in the pulp magazine All-Story Weekly as The Fragrant Web in 1919. The following year it was published in book form as Yellow Men Sleep.

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Yellow Men Sleep

x-posted to swordandsorcery

Deathless, by Catherynne Valente

A Sovietized, reimagined Russian fairy tale that is almost but not quite an adult Fairyland book.


Tor, 2011, 352 pages

Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to Western European culture: a menacing, evil figure, the villain of countless stories that have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the 20th century.

Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way, there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.

Koschei, Baba Yaga, Stalinist house-elves, the Siege of Leningrad, and one hell of a twisted marriage.

Also by Catherynne Valente: My reviews of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, The Habitation of the Blessed, Silently and Very Fast.

My complete list of book reviews.

Ayesha - The Return of She

H Rider Haggard’s She, published in 1887, is one of the bestselling novels of all time. It’s unquestionably one of the great adventure novels. Given its enormous success it’s hardly surprising that Haggard was tempted to produce a sequel in 1905. The result was Ayesha - The Return of She.

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The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker

A turn-of-the-century urban fantasy about two very unusual immigrants to New York City.

The Golem and the Jinni

Harper, 2013, 486 pages

Helene Wecker's dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true natures. Surrounding them is a community of immigrants: the coffeehouse owner Maryam Faddoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh, a damaged man cursed by tragedy; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew, Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish men; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the enigmatic Joseph Schall, a dangerous man driven by ferocious ambition and esoteric wisdom.

Meeting by chance, the two creatures become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

It's hard to believe this was a debut novel. This is as good as historical fantasy gets.

My complete list of book reviews.

Move Under Ground, by Nick Mamatas

The Beats go on the road to stop Cthulhu in this Lovecraft/Kerouac mashup.

Move Under Ground

Wildside Press, 2006, 158 pages

The year is nineteen-sixty-something, and after endless millennia of watery sleep, the stars are finally right. Old R'lyeh rises out of the Pacific, ready to cast its damned shadow over the primitive human world. The first to see its peaks: an alcoholic, paranoid, and frightened Jack Kerouac, who had been drinking off a nervous breakdown up in Big Sur. Now Jack must get back on the road to find Neal Cassady, the holy fool whose rambling letters hint of a world brought to its knees in worship of the Elder God Cthulhu. Together with pistol-packin' junkie William S. Burroughs, Jack and Neal make their way across the continent to face down the murderous Lovecraftian cult that has spread its darkness to the heart of the American Dream. But is Neal along for the ride to help save the world, or does he want to destroy it just so that he'll have an ending for his book?

Lovecraft. Kerouac. Crackfic.

Verdict: Dense, sometimes almost turgid prose deliberately imitating the style of the first-person protagonist Jack Kerouac, Move Under Ground is deeply weird and succeeds at being exactly what it's supposed to be: the bastard lovechild of a Beatnik Shoggoth orgy, with seminal contributions from two very different generations of writers. The style may or may not be to your liking, but if you're a fan of either half of this bizarre literary cross-breeding experiment, it's short enough that you should consider it worth reading.

Also by Nick Mamatas: My review of Starve Better.

My complete list of book reviews.

fantasy stories go to Heaven

Steven Brust’s To Reign in Hell is a horror novel (or perhaps a dark fantasy) that deals with the revolt of the Angels, and (from memory) takes place partly in Hell, and partly in Heaven.

Are there any other good fantasy stories or novels set in Heaven?

It doesn’t necessary have to be the Heaven of Jewish or Christian belief. It can be the Heaven (or its equivalent) from other religious systems, such as the the ancient Greek pagan religion, or the Valhalla in Norse mythology, or the equivalent in any other religion or mythology.


Fantasy fiction that's out of the ordinary

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