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Reviews from January 2020 (23)

Keep Changing the World

Riot Baby

By Tochi Onyebuchi  

18 Jan, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


Tochi Onyebuchi’s 2020 Riot Baby is a standalone science fiction novella. 

Fleeing LA following the King riots, Ella and her brother Kev are destined for typical American childhoods — that is, typical for African Americans. Frequently unpleasant, subject to violence and injustice. Ella is a precog, which in this case isn’t all that great. She sees what’s coming at her and often it isn’t good. 

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Bon Appetit

Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits, volume 1

By Waco Ioka & Midori Yuma  

16 Jan, 2020



2016’s Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits, Vol. 1 (Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi) collects the first five issues of Waco1 Ioka’s manga adaptation of Midori Yūma’s light fantasy series of novels. 

Aoi Tsubaki’s grandfather Shiro had a bad reputation. But to Aoi he was the man who rescued her from childhood misery after her mother abandoned her. Still, she must admit to herself that the reason his funeral was well attended may have been that many people wanted to assure themselves that their exploiter was actually dead. 

Though she is not yet aware of this, Aoi was one of Shiro’s victims.

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Walking Like the Wind Blows

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

By Ruth Emmie Lang  

15 Jan, 2020

Special Requests

1 comment

Ruth Emmie Lang’s 2017 debut novel Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a contemporary fantasy.

Goaded by schoolmates into exploring a dilapidated, gloomy dwelling, Roark falls through the roof into a spider-silk snare. She meets the building’s occupant, eccentric coot Weylyn Grey, who proceeds to spin a tale. 

Weylyn is as amiable as he is odd. His uninvited visitor does not have to worry about a horrid fate, unless it’s being talked to death. Weylyn’s rambling biography begins when a young Weylyn, tragically orphaned, does what any boy might do in his position. He runs off to live with wolves.

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Those Who Deserve the Best in Life


By Saladin Ahmed  

14 Jan, 2020

Special Requests


Saladin Ahmed’s 2018 Abbott is a horror comic. It was nominated for the Hugo and the Stoker.

Illustrator: Sami Kivelä. Colorist: Jason Wordie.

Detroit, 1972. Elena Abbott is a reporter, whose hard work should earn her accolades. Her boss’s bosses at the Detroit Daily are unenthusiastic about employing a reporter who is a woman and black. Detroit police are similarly unenthusiastic about a reporter whose stories on flagrant police brutality inexplicably don’t take the side of the police. Nevertheless, she persists.

Called to the scene of a brutal outrage, Abbott finds the cops baffled. The scene has elements all too familiar to her.

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Creatures of the Underworld

An Illusion of Thieves

By Cate Glass  

11 Jan, 2020

Miscellaneous Reviews


2019’s secondary world fantasy An Illusion of Thieves is the first volume in Cate Glass’ Chimera series. 

Cantagna has firm rules where sorcery is concerned. It is considered evidence of a demonic taint. Those born with magic are weighted down with chains and thrown in the nearest body of water. 

When Romy’s mother discovered Romy’s magical talent, she sold young Romy to a brothel. If Romy’s magic is ever discovered, it wouldn’t be her family’s problem.

Years later, Romy is Cataline of Moon House and one of the most famous courtesans in Cantagna. She is mistress to none other than Sandro, Cantagna’s Shadow Lord, the grand Padrone who rules the city. Sandro is married, of course (to Gilliette), but Romy is the one with whom Sandro spends his time. It’s the best life to which someone from Cantagna’s slums might aspire.

Happiness is evanescent.

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Hide and Seek

Djinn City

By Saad Z. Hossain  

10 Jan, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

1 comment

Saad Z. Hossain’s 2017 Djinn City is a contemporary fantasy. It may share a setting with Hossain’s The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday.

Blamed by his father for his mother’s death in childbirth, Indelbed has been raised in isolation and genteel poverty. Indelbed is a surprisingly good-natured kid, given his circumstances. His cousin Rais is quite fond of him. When Rais discovers that Indelbed has never been sent to school, Rais tries to fix what he sees as a problem. 

Rais doesn’t expect that his efforts will ruin Indelbed’s life.

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The Dream I Dream Takes Two

Start of Darkness

By Rich Burlew  

9 Jan, 2020

Miscellaneous Reviews


Rich Burlew’s 2007 Start of Darkness is a book prequel to his long-running Dungeons-and-Dragons-inspired fantasy web-comic, The Order of the Stick.

How did an easily distracted sorcerer become one of his world’s Big Bads? Why did the goblin cleric Redcloak ally with someone who squanders goblin lives on a whim? The answer for that begins with a punitive raid on a small goblin village thirty-four years before Order of the Stick begins.

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Were It Not For Hope

The Ninth Rain  (Winnowing Flame, volume 1)

By Jen Williams  

6 Jan, 2020

Special Requests


2018’s The Ninth Rain is the first volume in Jen Williams’ Winnowing Flame trilogy.

Once the Eborans were rulers and guardians of their world; they were sustained and armed by their tree-god Ygseril. Eight times they fought the Jure’lia, invading horrors from beyond the sky. Eight times they won. In the aftermath of the eighth invasion, however, Ygseril died. Since then, the Eborans have suffered a long, inexorable decline.

Tormalin the Oathless abandons the remnant of once-great Ebora for a life of adventure and debauchery abroad, in the service of Lady Vincenza Vintage” de Grazon. Vintage is determined to discover the true nature of the invaders and possibly a way to reverse the corruption each invasion leaves in its wake.

Vintage’s archaeology is surprisingly combat-intensive.

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