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Reviews in Project: Special Requests (433)

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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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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Alight the Match

Beyond the Burn Line

By Paul McAuley  

5 Jan, 2023

Special Requests


Paul McAuley’s 2022 Beyond the Burn Line is a stand-alone science fiction novel.

Six hundred thousand years before the time of the novel, the ogres failed so egregiously to properly caretake the Earth that scorch marks are still visible in the geological record. The ogres were replaced by the cruel but capable bears, whose domination of their home continents lasted for thirty millennia. Six centuries ago, the bears fell to madness, leaving their domain in the hands of their former Procyonic slaves. In the six centuries since, the citizens of the Union and United Territories have done their best to follow an equitable and prudent course that will steer them away from the fates of ogre- and bear-kind.

The first signs that unexpected transformation is coming arrives in the form of an academic puzzle.

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Nice Sharp Quillets

Sword of Fire  (Justice War, volume 1)

By Katharine Kerr  

3 Jan, 2023

Special Requests


2020’s Sword of Fire is the first volume in Katharine Kerr’s Justice War series. Justice War is the fifth series set in Kerr’s Deverry secondary-universe fantasy setting.

Centuries after the events of the Deverry, Westlands, Dragon Mage, and Silver Wyrm arcs, Aberwyn’s ruler, the Gwerbret Ladoic, faces a most unwanted development: widespread cries for a rule of law that is based on something more than a Gwerbret’s whim.

When Cradoc the Bard launches a hunger strike to protest the lack of reform, Ladoic ignores the Bard. Surely, Cradoc will give in before Ladoic does. Cradoc does not. Cradoc starves himself to death. Ladoic’s political problems are now much worse.

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The Past Is Just A Goodbye

The Path of Thorns

By A. G. Slatter  

22 Dec, 2022

Special Requests

1 comment

A.G. Slatter’s 2022 The Path of Thorns is a stand-alone secondary-universe gothic horror novel.

Asher Todd is the latest Morwood family governess. She has been hired on the strength of credentials as glowing as they are fraudulent. It’s true that Asher has many skills, but they aren’t the ones for which the Morwoods hired her. She has her own reasons for taking the position, reasons that would horrify the Morwoods if they knew.

The Morwoods wanted a faithful governess. What they got is a witch wearing another woman’s face.

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Some Dance to Forget

Vermilion Sands

By J. G. Ballard  

20 Dec, 2022

Special Requests

1 comment

1971’s Vermilion Sands is a collection of short stories by J. G. Ballard. All share the same setting: vacation resort Vermilion Sands.

Vermilion Sands’ precise location is unclear. Perhaps it is somewhere in the American desert or perhaps it is not too far from Mediterranean. Equally unclear is when the action takes place, except that it is a time that features mutant women and flying stingrays. Wherever and whenever it is, the idle rich flock to Vermilion Sands. Close on their heels come those who would profit off the rich.

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Indulgence Set Me Free

Ten Thousand Stitches  (Regency Faerie Tales, volume 2)

By Olivia Atwater  

15 Dec, 2022

Special Requests


2020’s Ten Thousand Stitches is the second of Olivia Atwater’s Regency Faerie Tales novels. It is a stand-alone fantasy HEA (happily ever after) romance tale.

Working as Effie does for self-centered, thoughtlessly unkind Regency-era English aristocrats, it takes only a few kind words from Mr. Benedict Ashbrooke to leave Effie infatuated with Benedict. Alas! The class divide ensures the two will never marry. Not without a miracle, or at least powerful magic.

Which is where Effie’s faerie godfather comes in.

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Every Game You Play

The Girl with the Silver Eyes

By Willo Davis Roberts  

6 Dec, 2022

Special Requests


Willo Davis Roberts’ 1980 The Girl with the Silver Eyes is a middle-grade stand-alone science fiction novel.

The disintegration of her parents’ marriage, a disintegration exacerbated by financial woes, forced Katie’s parents to leave her in the custody of her Grandma Welker. When Grandma Welker died in a fall, Katie moved in with her mother, in the city.

Adjusting to urban life after a rural childhood is challenge enough. Katie’s circumstances are complicated by the fact that the odd-looking girl has powers beyond human ken.

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Don’t Tug On Superman’s Cape

Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain  (Please Don’t Tell My Parents, volume 1)

By Richard Roberts  

1 Dec, 2022

Special Requests


2014’s Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain is the first volume in Richard Roberts’ Please Don’t Tell My Parents superhero series. Although superhero might not be quite the right term.

Penelope Penny” Akk is the daughter of superheroes Brainy” Akk and The Audit. She is understandably frustrated that thus far, she has failed to manifest either her mother’s superlative analytic abilities or her father’s superhuman intelligence.

At age thirteen, Penny is going to get what she wished for, if not exactly in the form she might have wanted.

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Sleight Of Hand

The Quantum Thief  (Jean le Flambeur, volume 1)

By Hannu Rajaniemi  

10 Nov, 2022

Special Requests


2010’s The Quantum Thief is the first volume in Hannu Rajaniemi’s Jean le Flambeur science fiction series.

Jean le Flambeur is famous as a thief par excellence — famous across a quirky, post-human Solar System. As such, he has the right combination of audacity, skill, and luck to accomplish a daunting task for Mieli and her patron.

But … perhaps Jean falls slightly short on the luck front. After all, he is securely locked up in Dilemma Prison, from which escape is impossible. Cue one pre-caper caper.

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