Tag Archives | magic

Uprooted wins Best Novel Award

Best Fantasy Novel

Naomi Novik’s Uprooted won Best Fantasy Novel Award at FantasyCon this weekend. Wahoo!
As you know, I had much fun being on the jury for this award, and had a book-filled summer working my way through the shortlist.

The shortlist was strong and varied, proving again that Fantasy as an umbrella term is a very broad, well, umbrella.

While I enjoyed reading them all, I confess Uprooted was my favourite. It twists away from the expected tropes of fairytale quite quickly, while staying close enough to the rules to make you admire how clever and refreshing it is. The magic (foresty, woodsy, ancient) was exactly the kind I like best, I dug the friendships between the female characters, and I harboured a modest crush on the main love interest.

Try reading your way through the shortlist, and, hey, why stop there? Check out the winners in *every* category. Award lists are a great way to find your next obsession.

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Finding stories in: Flickr photos

flickr faves mosaicPaging through my flickr faves this week, I found some great faces & places to put in stories. And then I put them together and got excited…

What do you think is going on in these?

I’m going with:

Teen witch uses colour-coded music to romance a friendly thief;

A girl who’s only ever lived in the clouds comes down to earth for the first time (and doesn’t know yet that she can’t get back up);

And the girl upside down in the road really shouldn’t have trusted Smug Uniform Girl, and will have to find one rogue shaman in a town of millions if she ever wants to go home again.

one two three

four five six

seven eight nine

Until recently, I hadn’t followed many portrait photographers, but now I’m on the prowl for more. Let me know if you know of any cool ones. My flickr fave page is here, and you can follow me if you’re a, um, Flickrer too.

Do go visit the photographers via the links above – plenty more goodness where these came from.

Coming up soon: Finding stories in: Pinterest Boards. I’ll share the boards I keep for story-ideas, & maybe reveal a few hidden boards I’ve built for works-in-progress. I know it’s hard to use Pinterest and not just get distracted by pictures of Ian Somerhalder, but it is possible. Just.

Currently (re) reading: I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith.
Currently writing: trying to get started on the next revision of Colour Novel. ‘Don’t Panic’ is the best writing advice I’ve received this week.
Now playing: Warrior in Woolworths, X-Ray Spex.

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Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton coverJust noticed that I hadn’t cross posted this review here yet – whoops. This was written for Slacker Heroes and first posted there in April.

I’ve just finished (and loved) Sacrificial Magic and Beautiful Creatures so, given that this one also has spells and magic in it, it’s fair to say I’ve been in a witchy phase this year. Way more fun than vamps & weres.

Have just checked Goodreads and the sequel to Blood Magic (The Blood Keeper) should be out later this summer – fab. I’ll definitely be reading it.

Got any suggestions as to other spooky-dark stories I can try in the meantime? Let me know!

Here’s the review –

It’s been a month or so since I finished Blood Magic, and I keep being disappointed when I pick up my Kindle and remember that I’m reading something else now, that I’ve left that world and those characters. I’d say that’s a sign of a good book, wouldn’t you?

It’s the story of seventeen-year-old Silla, a girl whose hands are heavy with the rings her father gave her, one for every birthday since she turned nine. A father who committed suicide after killing her mother. Silla was the one who found their bodies, but she’s sure there’s more to the events than has been discovered. She’s looking for answers in the mysterious book that arrived after their death. A book of spells written in her father’s hand.

Silla’s not the only one whose parents had secrets. Nick, the long-limbed new boy, has memories he’d rather forget, but coming back to the town his mother grew up in is stirring up the past and linking him to Silla in improbable ways.

So, we’ve got magic, death and secrets straight from the start. Yum! I’m a sucker for some good ol’ runes and pentacles, and the spells and rituals in this were very satisfying, very cool. We also get crows cawing and circling and beautiful, tree-heavy graveyards. These images are recognisable and classic, but felt fresh and aren’t something I’ve read much of recently, outside of Stacia Kane’s Downside series (which is definitely for an older readership). It felt fresh for YA, and the writing is atmospheric and compelling.

The narration swaps between Silla and Nick and it drew me in really quickly. I loved the way Gratton describes Nick, “He was so gangly and tall. Like half-grown animals, when their paws are still too big, and their legs way too long, and you know they’re going to grow into it all eventually and be the handsomest thing you ever saw”. I think it sums up the gawkishness of teenage boys very well, and emphasises how these characters are nearly – but not quite – on the verge of adulthood. I don’t think Nick would really be that into me, since he goes for bird-thin, blood-covered, fucked up 17-year-old orphans and I am almost exactly the opposite, but I’d still be happy to help him with his homework. Silla’s a teenage drama student whose parents both died recently in a gruesome murder-suicide, so of course her chapters are a little over the top with purple prose, but it works. It’s authentic.

Silla and Nick fall for each other very quickly – that’s not a spoiler, since their feelings are clear from the start. At first the speed made me twitch – was this realistic? – until I remembered high school, and how emotions, friendships, love and hate really did move that fast. I don’t know how we managed to pack in so much drama between Double Maths, netball and French but believe me, we did. A whole social network could dissolve and reform in a day, and people were always dating someone else’s ex or crush or brother or something – who knows why, did we think there weren’t enough boys to go around or something? Anyway. I don’t think a teen audience or someone familiar with that would find the speed of the relationship or the intensity of their devotion hard to believe.

The power of the spells and the shadow hanging over these two grows stronger with every chapter and I raced through to the end, despite the novel’s length. I see from Tessa’s website that there’s a stand-alone companion novel coming out this year, and I’m already looking forward to reading it. Another sign of a good book. Pick it up, let me know what you think. And if you see a strange figure in a graveyard, just stay away from it, alright?

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