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Reviews from May 2022 (22)

Poison Pen

Leaven of Malice  (Salterton Trilogy, volume 2)

By Robertson Davies  

17 May, 2022

Special Requests

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1954’s Leaven of Malice is the second book in Robertson Davies’ Salterton Trilogy. 

Salterton Little Theatre’s production of The Tempest safely past, Salterton returns to that timeless self-satisfied stagnation to which all proper Canadian communities aspire. 

Chaos comes to Salterton in the guise of a simple wedding announcement in the city’s premier newspaper, The Bellman.

Professor and Mrs. Walter Vambrace are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Pearl Veronica, to Solomon Bridgetower, Esq., son of Mrs. Bridgetower and the late Professor Solomon Bridgetower of this city. Marriage to take place in St. Nicholas’ Cathedral at eleven o’clock a.m., November 31st

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At Least It Was Short

The Star Dwellers  (Heart Stars, volume 1)

By James Blish  

15 May, 2022

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


James Blish’s 1961 The Star Dwellers is the first volume in the Heart Stars Duology. The Star Dwellers is a young adult novel. 

Humanity has long pondered questions like:

  • Are we alone in the galaxy? 
  • Are amicable relations between aliens and humans possible?
  • How does a novel this terrible not only get published but remain in print for twenty years (more than sixty in the UK)? 

The Star Dwellers answers two of those questions. 

Although he is only seventeen years old, Cadet Jack Loftus has benefitted from educational philosophies far superior to those of the 1960s, ninety years earlier. Good thing for humanity, as Jack will be playing a central role in its destiny.

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So Criminal

The Jade Setter of Janloon

By Fonda Lee  

13 May, 2022

Doing the WFC's Homework


Fonda Lee’s 2022 The Jade Setter of Janloon is a stand-alone crime novella that shares a setting with Lee’s Hugo-nominated Green Bones secondary-world fantasy series. 

Pulo dreamed of being a Green Bone warrior but ultimately found his niche as an apprentice to jade setter Isin-jen. Now a skilled artisan, Pulo chaffs at Isin-jen’s peculiar lack of ambition. Why does Janloon’s best jade setter settle for a small facility in a neutral part of the city, when, if he were to ally with one of the great clans, vast wealth could be his?

Pulo reluctantly concludes that personal ambition requires leaving his mentor behind. Before he can put his plan into action, tragedy strikes.

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No Mutant Enemy

The Cabinet

By Un-Su Kim  (Translated by Sean Lin Halbert)

11 May, 2022



Un-su Kim’s 2006 The Cabinet is a surrealist novel. The 2021 English translation is by Sean Lin Halbert.

Kong Deok-geun is a boring bureaucrat, someone whom nobody would ever expect to do anything interesting. He would have been perfect for a position requiring decades of meaningless paper-shuffling. Instead the unfortunate paper-pusher finds himself working for Professor Kwon. Kwon’s project sounds mundane, but it isn’t.

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Sparks Fly

Green Eyes

By Lucius Shepard  

10 May, 2022

Terry Carr's Third Ace Science Fiction Specials


Lucius Shepard’s 1984 Green Eyes is a stand-alone science fiction novel. It was the second book to be released in Terry Carr’s Third Ace Science Fiction Specials series.

Thanks to the scientific miracle of a bacterium retrieved from Louisiana gravesites, the dead can be restored to life. New processes always have a catch. In this case, there are two problems: revivification is temporary and the minds that manifest in the former corpses are not the minds those bodies once hosted. In many cases, the new inhabitants are far more brilliant than their predecessors, which makes them a valuable resource. 

Jocundra Verret is a therapist whose task it is to guide the zombies to productive use of their brief lives. Unfortunately for her employers, she will go very seriously off-mission.

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More Than Just a Number

The Silicon Mage  (Windrose Chronicles, volume 2)

By Barbara Hambly  

5 May, 2022

Big Hair, Big Guns!


1988’s The Silicon Mage is the second volume in Barbara Hambly’s Windrose Chronicles.

In the belief that the malevolent mage Suraklin was possessing Antryg, Joanna Sheraton left the dread revenant and its host in the gentle care of the authorities in Suraklin’s native dimension. She returns home, across the dimensions, to California. 

It is then that Joanna realizes that she has made a terrible mistake. Suraklin is not possessing Antryg; he’s ensconced himself in Joanna’s nasty boyfriend Gary. Antryg’s arrest did not neutralize Suraklin’s threat. It neutralized the only person able to stop Suraklin.

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That Magic Technique

Witch Hat Atelier, volume 1

By Kamome Shirahama  

4 May, 2022


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2017’s Witch Hat Atelier, Volume 1 is the first volume of Kamome Shirahama’s secondary-universe fantasy manga series. Titled Tongari Bōshi no Atorie in the original Japanese, Witch Hat Atelier has been serialized in Kodansha’s Monthly Morning Two magazine since July 2016. The English translation of volume one appeared in 2019.

Coco has been fascinated by magic since she was a little girl. Heart-broken to learn from her widowed mother that only those born into magical families can use magic, a small part of her continues to hope that perhaps she will be the exception. Thus when a mysterious masked witch gives her a grimoire and a pen, Coco accepts it. Thus when the witch Qifrey assigns Coco the task of ensuring nobody spies on him as he carries out a quick magical repair, she uses the opportunity to spy on him herself. 

Qifrey unwittingly provides Coco with the vital piece of information she lacked; now Coco can practice magic herself. 

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