I seem to have gotten my fall months backwards, reading about ghosts and vampires in September, rather than October. But somehow, we’ll manage — we read some good things this month, I’m happy to say.
I started with Lost Angeles by Lisa Mantchev and A.L. Purol. This was an odd reading experience, in that I feel like I’ve followed Lisa’s pinboard for this novel forever, so finally stepping into the world, I felt like I already knew its places and people — and that was amusing as well as comforting. “Oh I know who that is!”
Lost Angeles tells the story of Lourdes Chase, whose been having some experiences she can’t quite explain. When her paths cross with vampire rock superstar Xaine, things only get stranger. Lost Angeles is a super-quick paced adventure that often reminded me of the briefly-lived Vampire the Masquerade television series. If you dig gorgeous, snarky vampires, you are going to love this universe. There’s at least one sequel — Loose Canon — not sure if there are more to come!
Ghosts entered the scene with Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer — an excessively long overdue read. She’s just about to publish book three in the trilogy. I avoided this book for classic writerly reasons: it covers some of the same ground I cover in my work, and I didn’t want it to influence me as I was writing. It’s amusing to discover that even though I avoided it, the works have some things in common. The great hive mind.
Delia’s Shadow is set in 1915 San Francisco; Delia is haunted by ghosts, but one in particular, who would like Delia to solve the mystery of her death if she’d be so kind. Only things get complicated given who Delia is friends with — complicated in the best ways. Moyer has created a mashup here that is part The Devil in the White City and part Miss Fisher’s Mysteries; I loved the dark historical feel to this, and if I have one complaint, it’s only that the romance aspects felt rushed to me.
Ghosts stay front and center with a visit to Wylding Hall, a novella by Elizabeth Hand. This novella is a treat, part The Haunting of Hill House and part The House. Lovecraft, Carter, Borges, there seem to be influences crawling everywhere in this very haunted house. Wylding Hall is a collection of interviews with the members of a folk band who recorded an album at the hall in the 70s; the experience changed each member, for better and worse, and none have been able to shake (or fully explain) what happened within the house’s ancient walls.
This kind of story is 100% my jam. It’s delicious and creepy and layered. It takes you on a slow, deliberate journey and when you get to the final reveal, you realize you knew the truth all along, because Wylding Hall had her teeth in you the whole time — you’ve just grown to rely on the poison, can’t breathe without it.
I also read Hand’s collection, Last Summer at Mars Hill; it collects twelve stories from a variety of places, and while I loved it (Hand is just something magic for me, apparently), it pales for me in comparison to Saffron and Brimstone, which is the collection I like best. It contains The Lost Domain quartet, which is impossibly dear to my heart.
Lord Nicholas Falcott is about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield when instead, he finds himself in twenty-first century London. The Guild, a group that tells him “oh this happens, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered; yes time travel is a thing, only you can’t ever go back.” As he’s about to find out, it’s never quite that simple. The Guild appears to be at war with another group of folks, who don’t care how the Guild handles time travel at all.
Layered with his story is that of Julia, who seems to have an affinity with time all her own; she cannot explain it, and in the wake of her grandfather’s death, she’s desperate to, for her nasty cousin has designs on her estate and talents. Eventually, Julia collides with Nick, and it’s a beautiful thing. This book is wonderful — I’ve read a lot of time travel novels, and this one handles it in a new, interesting way.
There is also a companion novella, which is a prequel of sorts, but I would definitely recommend reading it after the novel; The Time Tutor delves more deeply into Alva’s life and how she came to travel through time and become a whore (of sorts). Alva was one of the best things about the novel, so seeing her story expanded was wonderful. The novella seems a little less detailed than the novel, however, and felt extremely brief; it ends at about 80% of the file, the rest being a preview of the novel.
I intended to save Rae Carson’s To Walk the Earth a Stranger for October, but once I picked it up, it would not leave my hands. Our Heroine, Leah Westfall, has the ability to sense gold in the world, be it in jewelry or still in the ground; given that the country’s gone gold crazy, this puts a girl in an awkward position. People might use her for that very ability. When tragedy spurs Leah to act, she finds herself heading West, disguised as a boy — toward the very gold everyone is rushing headlong toward.
This book put me in mind of the best books I read as a kid — girls going on kick-ass adventures will never be boring to me (I laugh at the review on Goodreads which says this book lacked a plot; which book did they actually read?). And girls disguised as boys? Also a constant favorite.The book also tackles a lot of challenging things: Native Americans, how we treat people based on appearances, child abuse, murder, women in history, and just…it’s an amazingly layered work.
This story is wonderful in every way — except the wait we now have for book two (it’s the first in a trilogy).
And LOOK at that cover.
What a great reading month! I wonder what I’ll discover in October…I know Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman is first!