James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews


Beguiled Again

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic  (Real Magic, volume 1)

By Emily Croy Barker 

16 Jul, 2024

Special Requests


2013’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic is the first volume in Emily Croy Barker’s Real Magic series.

Facing abject failure in both personal and academic life, Nora seeks distraction. Setting off on a walk in the woods, Nora becomes disoriented and hopelessly lost.

Ilissa is happy to offer Nora hospitality. Nora would have been better off in the earthly wilderness.

Read more ➤

Gonna Learn To Fly

Good Neighbors and Other Strangers

By Edgar Pangborn 

14 Jul, 2024

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Edgar Pangborn’s 1972 Good Neighbors and Other Strangers is a collection of speculative fiction stories1.

Recently SF fans were thrilled to learn that, after a delay of more than half a century, Harlan Ellison’s The Last Dangerous Visions was finally being published. This news was of particular interest to Edgar Pangborn aficionados. Would Pangborn’s heretofore unpublished The Life and the Clay,” one of many stories that Harlan Ellison had sat on for decades, finally see print?


Read more ➤

Without Question or Pause

The Stardust Grail

By Yume Kitasei 

12 Jul, 2024

Doing the WFC's Homework


Yume Kitasei’s 2024 The Stardust Grail is a stand-alone space opera.

Maya Hoshimoto was an alien artifact retrieval expert (thief); she gave it up, she thought, to re-enter academia. At the advanced age of thirty-one, she finds herself at a standstill. Where once Maya was a junior scholar failing to reach her potential, then a thief, now she is a not very successful comparative cultures graduate student in the death spiral” phase of her research career.

Maya may think she has left her old life behind her. Her old life seeks her out in Princeton, New Jersey.

But first, alien galactopolitics.

Read more ➤

Dancing Once Again

The Destroyer of Worlds  (Lovecraft Country)

By Matt Ruff 

11 Jul, 2024

Cosmic Horror!


Matt Ruff’s 2023 The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country is the second in the Lovecraft Country historical cosmic-horror series.

African American Atticus Turner, his family, and his friends, might have hoped that with Caleb Braithwhite’s banishment, their occult adventures had come to an end. To quote Doctor Jon Osterman, Nothing ever ends.” Their adventures were only beginning!

Adventure is, of course, someone other than the reader having a terrible time.

Read more ➤

Glory Days

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths

By Shigeru Mizuki 

10 Jul, 2024


1 comment

Shigeru Mizuki’s 1973 Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, is a stand-alone historical tragedy manga. Titled Sōin Gyokusai Seyo! in the original Japanese, the 2011 English translation1 is by Jocelyne Allen.

Imperial Japan sent Private Murayama and others off to New Britain island in Papua New Guinea, there to join the Baien Battalion in tropical isolation.

New Britain proves something less than a paradise.

Read more ➤

Their Wicked Schemes

Menewood  (The Light of the World, volume 2)

By Nicola Griffith 

9 Jul, 2024

Special Requests


2023’s Menewood: A Novel is the second volume in Nicola Griffith’s historical sequence, Light of the World1.

Centuries after the Roman exit, Britain is a violent, chaotic land, overrun by waves of continental invaders, beset by ambitious petty kings. Some might dream of a heroic king to unite the land. Certainly some dream of being that king.

Hild on the other hand is a realist who accepts and understands the world around her as it is. War will come. It is Hild’s task to make sure that those about whom she cares will survive it. She cannot expect total success, but she will do her best.

Read more ➤

Drawn in the Snow

Keeper of the Keys  (Charlie Chan, book 6)

By Earl Derr Biggers 

7 Jul, 2024

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Earl Derr Biggers’ Keeper of the Keys is the sixth and final Charlie Chan mystery.

Inspector Charlie Chan takes leave of mundane Honolulu and travels to exotic Truckee, California. There Chan hopes to finally see snow close up, rather than at a distance1.

Chan will get his snow. He will also get the chance to solve yet another murder.

Read more ➤

Cool Water

Goddess of the River

By Vaishnavi Patel 

5 Jul, 2024

Doing the WFC's Homework


Vaishnavi Patel’s 2024 Goddess of the River is a stand-alone fantasy novel that draws on the Mahābhārata.

Once the goddess Ganga was free. In response to fearful human prayers, Shiva bound Ganga to the river that bears her name. Ganga remained a god, for all the good that would do her where pesky humans were concerned.

The eight Vasus, playful godlets, are Ganga’s precious friends. She would do anything in her power to protect them. As with so many benevolent motivations, the result is calamity.

Disaster arrives as a stolen cow.

Read more ➤