It seems like a long time since Pete (my author brother) and I have posted about our favourite monthly indies. First bushfires, and now COVID19! Got LOTS of spare time…and I still can’t be bothered to do much except watch movies I’ve already seen! How about you?
Nevertheless, in the spirit of celebrating our fellow indies, Pete and I have picked you some intriguing reads for those long, self-isolated days…
Master of Verona and What Girls Are Good For, by David Blixt. Blixt creates protagonists who are likeable, believable, witty and intelligent, and a cast of memorable and swashbuckling characters to go with them. Master of Verona follows the fortunes of Dante’s son Pietro Alighieri as he negotiates the tricky politics of Renaissance Florence and its handsome, daring prince, Cangrande della Scala. What Girls Are Good For is the first in a series centred on the intrepid Nellie Bly, girl reporter, and feisty feminist. Nellie sticks up for the oppressed and sticks it up the oppressors – a perfect role model for our times. If you like historical novels (I do, when they’re well done) Blixt has an astonishing range (Renaissance Italy, 19th century New York, Shakespearian England, ancient Rome). You can find everything by Blixt here.
Squall, by Sean Costello. This is an edge-of-your-seat, bite-your-nails thriller with depth. A storm is on its way…and Tom Stokes is getting ready to celebrate a joint birthday with his five year old son, and very pregnant wife Mandy, in their isolated cottage in the snow. Meanwhile a criminal drama is unfolding that’s likely to end in their brutal murder…. What I enjoyed about this novel, apart from its stylish and original prose and perfect editing, was that the baddies had real, almost sympathetic characters, and were allowed to develop them. Not only the hero had a journey of the soul to make. Highly recommended, find it here. (Although I got it free from Kobo)
Cryptofauna by Patrick Canning…Jim the asylum janitor is diverted from suicide by an invitation to join a game. It’s not without challenges, such as lifeboat survival, cheering up a depressed hedgehog and extracting information from the gem-eyed reporters of the jinn radio network. Nor its dangers. Wildly inventive, often very funny and dotted with memorable turns of phrase (“pliable as a boiled gymnast” made me wince and laugh). Find it here.
The Disposable (1st book of The Plot Bandits), by Katherine Vick) Ever found your characters recalcitrant, even determined to go their own way? Fodder, tired of being speared or decapitated every day (the lot of the subsidiary character), resists the pull of the Narrative and strikes out for freedom. Fantasy tropes are neatly captured, dissected and subverted, while developing very real and sympathetic characters. Lots of twists, clever wording, and a lesson in the art of revolution. Find it here.
By the way, Pete’s released his newest book in the Tales of the Wild series, The Forked Path. If you liked A Walk in the Wild and The Servant’s Story, you’ll love his latest sophisticated take on the magical world genre.
And talking about magic, fantasy, etc, I’ve also just published a revised version of my philosophical fantasy trilogy Like Flies…I decided to make it more the kind of book I like to read, and less the kind of book that, well, a lot of other people may (or may not) like to read. Gods layered like onions, free will versus fate, and a cosmic vacuum cleaner that’s got way, WAY out of hand.