“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

Uprooted is a tale that, in many ways, is very familiar. Rooted (hee hee, I made a pun!) in Eastern European folk-lore, it has a fairy-tale quality that will feel almost natural to many readers. The story also deals with common themes: an apprentice chafing under a close-minded master, good country peasants ignored by decadent … Continue reading “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

A Grain of Wheat is set in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion, with the drama culminating just as Kenya gains independence from Britain in 1963. The story is centred around Mugo, a man consumed by secrets and who desires only to be left alone. Orbiting around Mugo is a cast of characters, each of … Continue reading A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy

A small tortoiseshell butterfly in my garden. And yes, I know it's not a moth. Let me start by saying what this book is not. It is not a polemic about the evils of megacorporations, capitalism and Big Oil. It is not a bludgeon loaded with mind-numbing and soul-deadening eco-facts, figures and data sets designed … Continue reading The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy

Peter Frankopan’s “The Silk Roads”

To describe this book as a history of Central Asia would be a horrible simplification. It does not tell the history of a place, or even a region. It offers, instead, a survey of the enormous wealth, glorious civilizations and marauding hordes that rose and fell in the wake of the caravans, railways and pipelines … Continue reading Peter Frankopan’s “The Silk Roads”

Waters and the Wild by Jo Zebedee

This is a great book! Intelligent and intense, the story moves through forty-eight hours in the life of a very disturbed young woman named Amy. Plagued by a pack of very nasty fairies—who may or may not be the products of her own imagination—Amy struggles to fight against the fairies' (or her own psychosis') urgings. And … Continue reading Waters and the Wild by Jo Zebedee

The Tree House by Kathleen Jamie

Some of you will say I'm wandering off topic again. Some of you will say this is neither fantasy nor science-fiction. My reply is that Kathleen Jamie's The Tree House is a work of compelling and subtle imagination. And that's a good enough reason for me to review it. The Tree House is a collection … Continue reading The Tree House by Kathleen Jamie

Circe by Madeline Miller

First, I should say that this was just (as in this week) voted "Fantasy Book of the Year" on Goodreads. Second, the readers there got it right. In Circe, Madeline Miller delivers the full package. Compelling characters? Check. Excellent storytelling? Check. Powerful, subtle, simple yet elegant prose? Check. Compelling characters? What, did I say that … Continue reading Circe by Madeline Miller