Rose’s brilliant author brother Peter is writing up this month’s selection of indie goodies, as Rose has absconded with the family silver and dog. The following is put together from notes scrawled on the back of bus tickets, train timetables and an advert for “Dancing with the Seals”. We hope to resume abnormal service when she has been recaptured and the dog is out of therapy.
First up (from Rose)…
Artist on Campaign, by Caroline Miley, is a superb – and I don’t say that lightly – historical novel set in the Peninsular Wars (fought by Wellington against Napoleon’s generals in Portugal and Spain). The novel concerns the adventures of Mr Ralph Oughtred, an impecunious artist who’s hired (in the nick of time, as far as his finances are concerned) to paint portraits of all the main British generals engaged in the war. Damn it, they keep dying – so he needs to be quick! Oughtred is loath to leave his lady friend – “dearest Lucinda” – but of course, once he’s in Portugal, temptations (and risks) abound. As the plot unfurls, Oughtred finds himself embroiled in more adventure than he bargained for. Miley does ‘period conversation’ brilliantly, but brings a modern sense of pace and liveliness that’s really enjoyable. She has a historian’s grasp of the context and a writer’s instinct for plot and style – the book is a tour de force. You can find it here.
Wild Hare, by Laura Koerber, is a beautiful example of ‘dystopian magic realism’. The story revolves around a half-breed forest fairy, Bobby Fallon, who uses his limited magical powers to con shopkeepers into letting him walk out with extra fags and toilet roll. Bobby hangs out in the woods with a selection of tramps and full blood fairies, but beyond their carefully guarded refuge, America has become a Trumpian nightmare, embodied by the slogan ‘Make Your Own Happiness!’. When Bobby’s friend Arne is locked up for non-payment of fines in a seemingly perpetual bureaucratic cycle of despair, Bobby has to resort to extreme measures to find the money to bail him out. Meanwhile, romance blossoms between Bobby and the kind, overweight receptionist at Bear Lake holiday park….This book is kind, insightful, original, scary, funny – and beautifully written. You can find it here.
And from Peter..
Who do you send for when you have a claim-jumping dragon? Or need to rescue your beloved from a forced marriage? The ingenious Edward Wallace, cunning contriver of steam-powered magic, that’s who – in two novellas by Bryan Fields: Mine and Hearts Before Diamonds. Neatly-written and ingeniously-plotted tales set in a world where plagues of flying tigers mix with clockwork wonders.
Bryan’s partner, Noelle Meade, has an engaging heroine whose life is turned around when one third of humanity turns into dwarves, elves, minotaurs and other less classifiable creatures. Even though – or perhaps because – many politicians are now small grey scuttling things, life somehow goes on. Or would, if not for the horrible ex-boyfriend, now a werewolf. Warning – a fair amount of sex, and some violence (he’s not the nice kind of werewolf, if there is such a thing), but you warm to Olivia and keep wanting to find out how she is going to turn her life around. That’s Forging Day, first in a series.
A side-note is that Bryan Fields died recently after a long illness, and his partner is wrestling with the crappy US health system. So by buying the book, you get a good read and do a good deed!
Happy November reading! And btw, if you HAVE a book you’d like reviewed, feel free to get in touch (fallaciousrose at fallaciousrose.com). And if you want to get down amongst the free indie fiction, there’s a bunch of free November mysteries here – tell Rose if you find anything good!