This week I thought I would review a couple of books I've read recently. They're both fantasy, but one is more of a paranormal romance and the other a historical fantasy. They were fresh takes on both, so I decided I would talk about them and how they are unique stories.
The first one is Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. This is a paranormal romance. But before you scream and run away, I will say that this is a unique take on the genre. It's not as unique and fresh as it could be (it's a teen romance, for crying out loud. They're the definition of formulaic.), it's pretty good. The story is about a girl named Mel who lives in a city known for being a haven for vampires. Yes, vampires are well-exposed (though not to the sun), and everyone knows about them. Anyway, Mel's best friend Cathy falls in love with a vampire, and Mel is ardently against this. She plans to do everything in her power to stop her friend from choosing the undead life, and along the way meets her own rather odd heartthrob. Again, teenage romance.
I did enjoy this book because it is unapologetic in its reversal of typical paranormal romance. Check the title: Team Human. The characters are fun and the book is a pleasant, Halloween-y jaunt. I don't expect it to become a classic, but it's deeper than your average paranormal romance (there's a lot I wasn't able to put in the summary on life/death, what it means to be human, and how to be a true friend). And, it's fun. Sometimes it's okay to read a book just because it's fun.
The other book I'm talking about today is also fun, and also written by two authors: Sorcery and Cecilia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. If you've ever wanted to read a story told entirely through letters with a plot like Pride and Prejudice with magic added, this is your book. It takes place in England around the 1830s, so Jane Austen's time. The heroines, Kate and Cecy, tell the story through their letters to each other, as one is having a Season in London and the other is at home. They meet men they find odious at first, but fall in love with, and they both meddle too much (or just enough) in serious magical matters and get into quite a bit of trouble. But then, we wouldn't read a book without any trouble, would we?
This book was wonderful because the writers nailed the voice of Jane Austen and other writers of that time. The girls talk about calling on people, going to balls, local gossip - like an Austen book. It's a true historical fantasy, and Kate and Cecy are plucky, intelligent girls. Again, it's Austen plus magic, and it's done well. This book may someday be a classic; I know a lot of my fantasy-reading friends have read this and love it.
I realize now that both books I reviewed today are pretty clearly for girls. Sorry boys; I'll be sure to review a more macho book next time. Maybe The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard.
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