What I read in June could probably be collected under the genre Girls Going On Adventures. I didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. I wanted to read lighter books, books that seemed to have a sense of fun. Good job, self! And what a great theme for summer, really. Who doesn’t want a summer adventure?
June opened with The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Catherynne Valente. This is the second Fairyland book — I’ve had two and three sitting here for a bit, just waiting for the right time. While I like this world a lot — it’s very Wonderlandesque in every way — I always wish the story and its characters had a little more to them. But, much as with Oz before it, it’s a book that seems content to allow its heroine to wander about while people tell her what she needs to go and direct her toward the next story/adventure. Our Heroine never does quite enough, but the landscapes are intoxicating and keep me coming back. The artwork by Ana Juan is scrumptious!
Letters to Zell by Camille Greip came to me via Netgalley and I had absolutely no idea what it would really be about. The Zell in question, however, turns out to be Rapunzel! This book is told in a series of letters from and to our princesses (Aurora, Bianca, CeCilia), all girls who are ready to strike out and have new adventures — some of which involve happily ever after, some of which do not. I love stories that are told in letters — ever since Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine — but I think pulling off the structure is difficult. I think I might have loved this book better if it had been a smidgen shorter, because at some point it became difficult to believe in the level of detail the letters went into (to sustain an actively forward-moving plot).
Molly Tanzer told me about Rat Queens, and I read their second collection in June, The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth. This was Super Confusing, if only because you are thrown into a story that is non-linear. Once I figured that out, all was good and well, and adorable and foul-mouthed as the first collection. There is such a great sense of humor here — and humor is a hard-sell for me!
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley is something of a drug; I read this over the course of a single weekend, which is greatly unheard of for me. It is part Wonderland and part Oz and part Harry Potter and even part The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland (Valente). It is about growing up and discovering your place (which is not necessarily where They think you belong, but where the world allows you to finally breathe) and falling in love (not necessarily with people, but also with people).
Fran Wilde‘s Updraft (received early from Netgalley) charts an entirely different course across similar territory; Wilde builds a world of living bone, in the high, wind-sculpted clouds, a world full of secrets and betrayal and monsters. Our Heroine discovers she’s stronger than she ever knew — and discovers, too, that the world holds myriad angles and stories that one cannot fully understand from only one viewpoint. Sometimes, you have to go down the rabbit hole (or up into the spire) to see how things really are.
The stories that stick with me do this very thing, and have stayed with me all my life, and there are a number of readers I hope to gift both of these books to because of that. (I also really want a Littlemouth plushie, do you hear me, world?)
If you’re thinking I didn’t read much in June, you’re right. Most of my time was spent putting together Shimmer #26, which is out now, and should be read by YOU.
(I’ve got Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings in my to-be-read-stack — more wings! more flying! I sense an ongoing theme…)