Reviews: Kingfisher, T.

Dreams and Bones

Summer in Orcus — T. Kingfisher

T. Kingfisher’s 2017’s Summer in Orcus is a standalone young-adult portal fantasy.

Determined to keep Summer safe, Summer’s mother has spent years protecting the girl from every possible danger, no matter how small. No matter how ludicrous. The weight of her mother’s love is a heavy burden.

Perhaps another girl would have turned down the Baba Yaga’s offer to give her her heart’s desire. Summer accepts and is immediately dispatched to a new, unfamiliar world. One that comes with a quest.

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“In all the old stories, the only thing that ever won was love. And occasionally a good sharp knife.”

The Raven and the Reindeer — T. Kingfisher

T. Kingfisher’s 2016 novel The Raven and the Reindeer begins like this:

Once upon a time, there was a boy born with frost in his eyes and frost in his heart.

Kay is prime Snow Queen bait: beautiful, obsessive, and coldly proud. It was perhaps inevitable that Kay would fall for the Snow Queen’s enticements, abandoning home, family, and friends for ultimately fatal delights. Kay’s doom seems assured.

But this isn’t frost-eyed Kay’s story. It’s Gerta’s.

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A gardener’s tale

Bryony and Roses — T. Kingfisher

The author lurking behind the pen name T. Kingfisher is perhaps best known for routinely kicking me out of the #2 position on Livejournal. She is also a Hugo-winning author whose books are well worth sampling. Case in point: 2015’s Bryony and Roses.

When we first meet Bryony, she’s finally found something that distracts her from a recent avalanche of catastrophe:

  • her mother died;
  • her father indulged in ill-conceived schemes to marry off his three daughters, showing total indifference to their feelings in the matter;
  • he fell into debt;
  • he was murdered;
  • the sisters fled from the city into impoverished rustic seclusion.

Bryony’s current predicament is the ultimate distraction: she is freezing to death in an unexpected spring blizzard.

She is saved when she finds a manor house where no manor house was before or should be now. Inside, she finds no visible host or servants, but she does find food, warmth, and shelter from the storm.

But of course there’s a catch.

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Basically, I have no sense of humour

Nine Goblins — T. Kingfisher

I expect I won’t make friends with this review of 2013’s Nine Goblins. However, I can do no other, thanks to a minor quirk of mine. I discovered this quirk when rereading Matt Ruff’s Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy. At some point when I wasn’t paying attention, comedic genocide just stopped working for me. This is a shame because so much fantasy and SF depends on genocide as positive plot element. This trifling oddity of taste must have robbed me of hours of morally equivocal entertainment.

It is very clear that Kingfisher believes what is being done to the goblins is wrong. Nevertheless, Kingfisher is aiming at humour in Nine Goblins. She may well have succeeded for the majority of her readers, but, thanks to my quirk, she did not succeed with me.

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