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Reviews from February 2023 (20)

Curses and Conspiracies


By Frances Hardinge  

14 Feb, 2023

Special Requests


Frances Hardinge’s 2023 Unraveller is a stand-alone secondary universe fantasy novel.

Raddith is a land of wonder. It is situated next to the Wilds, where one might easily encounter beings known elsewhere only in horrified folk tales. Wildness seeps into Raddith. One unfortunate effect is that seemingly unremarkable people are from time to time imbued with supernatural power, power with which to express their ire at life’s injustices. These lucky few are known by their victims as cursers,” provided of course that the horrific transformations worked on the victims leave them able to speak.

Kellen’s curse unravels textiles. The curse has also given him a unique knack for unravelling curses (if not his own). There are many charlatans in Raddith, charlatans who claim to be able to undo curses. They cannot. Kellen, however, can see the curse, know who cast it, and can sometimes undo the curse. One might think this would be a guarantee of wealth and fame. It’s not.

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Your World Will Melt Away


By Philip Wylie  

12 Feb, 2023


1963’s Triumph by Philip Wylie is a tale of individual survival in a world of Commietastic Atomigeddon.

Having saved Vance Farr’s daughter Faith following an automobile accident, brilliant Ben Bernman visits Farr at his lavish estate. Faith has only recently become engaged: her fiancé Kit Barlow is in attendance, as is a surprisingly diverse assortment of friends and Farr employees.

Meanwhile, Russian Commies are plotting to enslave the world. Step one: kill everyone.

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But His Adventures Were Only Beginning

The Oddfits  (The Oddfits, volume 1)

By Tiffany Tsao  

10 Feb, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework

1 comment

2016’s The Oddfits is the first volume in Tiffany Tsao’s Oddfits series.

Returning to his native Singapore after decades of adventure elsewhere, Yusuf bin Hassim opens an ice cream store. His store is also a means of finding just the right person for a special role. His vigilance is rewarded: Yusuf recognizes in young Murgatroyd Floyd a kindred spirit, someone with the necessary qualities. All Yusuf need do now is inform the boy of his great destiny.

This is not to be. Murgatroyd visits his favourite ice cream store to find it closed. Yusuf has died of old age. The wonderful secret he was going to tell Murgatroyd is left unsaid.

Years pass.

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Some Underworld Spy

Tool of the Trade

By Joe Haldeman  

9 Feb, 2023

Big Hair, Big Guns!


Joe Haldeman’s 1987’s Tool of the Trade is a stand-alone science fiction espionage novel.

MIT psychology Nicholas Foley is a seemingly unremarkable academic. In fact, Foley is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that he is a Soviet sleeper agent. Leningrad-born Nikola Ulinov was infiltrated into the US as a young man. Ulinov, now Foley, has invested decades establishing himself within American academia.

Foley’s casual hobby of lethal vigilantism is less remarkable than how the sleeper agent manages to kill miscreant after miscreant. Foley has the power to compel obedience.

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Live in Dreams Today

The Oxygen Barons

By Gregory Feeley  

7 Feb, 2023

Terry Carr's Third Ace Science Fiction Specials


Gregory Feeley’s 1990 The Oxygen Barons is the twelfth and final volume in the Third Ace Science Fiction Specials series. The Oxygen Barons is a hard science fiction novel.

The Lunar Republic arose on a very nearly terraformed Moon, effectively revolting against the investors who paid for the terraforming. Like so many revolutionary republics before it, the Lunar Republic swiftly broke into opposing factions. This was a sufficient pretext for the powers that be to order a total embargo of the Moon.

Political idealism of several flavours cannot wave away the physical reality that faces the revolutionaries.

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The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

By Sangu Mandanna  

3 Feb, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework

1 comment

Sangu Mandanna’s 2022’s The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is a stand-alone contemporary fantasy novel.

Despite her pretensions to eccentricity, Mika Moon does follow the rules she learned from Primrose, oldest and most powerful of Britain’s small witch community. The prime rule: protect the secret that witches exist at all, lest witches once again find themselves the focus of official and mass hatred. Primrose is convinced that this means avoiding close friends, lovers, and any other social connection that might give a non-witch the chance to discover the secret. Even associating too often with other witches could give the game away. Thus far, Mika has been diligent, which is to say very, very alone.

Except … Mika does post online videos in which she cosplays a stereotyped witch. Since she never uses actual magic, those videos cannot possibly expose the secret. Or so Mika thought.

Ian Kubo-Hawthorn knows a witch when he sees one. As it happens, he and his colleagues have a use for a witch, if they can entice one into isolated Nowhere House.

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The Old Curiosity Shop

Once Upon a Tome

By Oliver Darkshire  

2 Feb, 2023

Special Requests


Once Upon a Tome: The misadventures of a rare bookseller by Oliver Darkshire (2022) is a non-fiction work about the rare book trade.

Having tried his hand at a number of occupations, young Oliver Darkshire applied for and won a position at Sotherans, a venerable bookstore tucked away in an obscure London side street. This proved a bold decision worthy of the 7th Earl of Cardigan.

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Days to Come

Witch Hat Atelier, volume 10

By Kamome Shirahama  

1 Feb, 2023



Witch Hat Atelier Volume 10 is the tenth tankōbon in Kamome Shirahama’s Witch Hat Atelier 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 Twomagazine since July 2016. First published in Japan in 2022, the English translation of Volume 10 was released later that same year.

When last we saw Coco and her colour-blind chum Tartah, they had been having what should have been a happy reunion with their pal, Custas. Too bad that he has made certain discoveries concerning magic and in consequence is less than pleased with his friends.

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