Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Book Release: Never After

I preordered Never After for my Kindle and downloaded it on Tuesday, its release day. I wasn't sure how well it would fit into the blog, but I discovered it fits well enough. I admit, fairy tale themes or no, I would have ordered this book just because I'm a diehard Sharon Shinn fan. Her world of Samaria hits my top ten fantasy vacation destinations from literature, even the top five, perhaps top three.

At this point, I have only read the Shinn story, more of a novella, which comprises 30-40% of the book and was worth the price of admission for me. Shinn subtly plays with fairy tale tropes--especially the princess's hand in marriage won through three tests--and then develops a story that is at times surprising considering the constraints of the premise and length. Yes, some plotting is predictable, but Shinn always throws in enough character development and plot twists to keep me guessing. She also offers up a beta male hero, something she excels at as well as alphas. Not my favorite of her works, but a nice coda after I devoured her new Quatrain earlier this month. And then reread her Twelve Houses books...but I've digressed too far, now.

Anyway, none of the stories are direct riffs on popular fairy tales, but all employ fairy tale tropes and characters on some level, from arranged marriages to selkies. Of course, bestseller Laurell K. Hamilton is the headliner author with Yasmine Galenorn and Marjorie M. Liu included.

There aren't many reviews up for the book yet--there might not be many since its being shelved under romance over fantasy, neither of which are widely reviewed--but I found one helpful one at Never After by Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie M. Liu, and Sharon Shinn review by Elena Nola

Never After is billed as a collection of “feminist fairy tales,” basically stories that take the idea of the fairy tale wedding and explore the possibility that it might, well, not be such a fairy tale. I will confess that my eyebrows arched pretty high when I read the list of established professionals contributing stories: Laurell K. Hamilton, Marjorie M. Liu, Yasmine Galenorn, and Sharon Shinn. I have read at least one novel from each of them, and my experience was that all but Shinn write novels that are too deeply entrenched in sex to be anything like what I would label feminist writing. However. I was very willing to be pleasantly surprised by this collection, and you know what? I was.

Nola's review is much longer and more informational than mine since I decided to write before finishing the book, so be sure to click through and read it. Once again, I aim to be more news source than judge, but for a light read, this book should fill a need as the nights grow longer.

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