I got this book because a review suggested that if I loved Tim Burton, I would love this book. I can see why they said that. But I did not love it, just liked it a bit. I loved the presentation of the book, with a sort of worn look, with illustrations resembling old newspaper clippings. I also liked the structure, with short stories and fairy tales in the middle of the main story. I even liked the premise, with an evil puppet master kidnapping children and using them as slaves and puppets. I loved that it was set in Prague, as I really love that city.
So why did I not love this book? I think it is one of those cases that I am too old to enjoy it. I needed something more elaborate, more adult and this book wasn't it. But probably the faults lies in me.
7 - Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
Lud-in-the-Mist has been recommended as an obscure and pre-Tolkien fantasy book, although it is more of a fairy tale sort of book (it does deal with fairies). The world of Lud-in-the-Mist is fascinating. Everything is beautifully described, the places and its colours, its history and traditions, the characters and their relationships. I loved the writing style, specially the character descriptions, like this one:
"Master Nathaniel Chanticleer, the actual head of the family, was a typical Dorimarite in appearance; rotund, rubicund, red-haired, with hazel eyes in which the jokes, before he uttered them, twinkled like a trout in a burn."
A very enjoyable read, with humorous and poignant moments, full of adventure and mystery. Recommended for all fantasy fans!
8 - Birdwing by Rafe Martin
I found this book as a recommendation to Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier, as it is based on the same fairy tale. It is a continuation of the story, telling what happen to Ardwin, the brother that was left with a swan wing instead of an arm.
It is an enjoyable young adult read, dealing with issues of prejudice, being different and friendship.
9 - Odalisque by Fiona McIntosh
After reading Royal Exile and Tyrant's Blood (and loving it), I had to read more of Fiona McIntosh, so I picked up Odalisque. Heavily inspired by the Ottoman Empire, it follows the story of Ana, chosen as an Odalisque for the new Zar. At first it seems to follow a political storyline, with a bit of romance in the mix. But soon there is the introduction of a new mystery, a struggle between gods and a prophetic message warning about a demon coming to destroy the Goddess.
I really liked this book, and will soon read the rest of the series. I enjoyed the world building, and the promise of more regarding the story of the Goddess. There are amazing characters, both good and evil, and the changes in point of view help to fully understand all of them.
10 - Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
First and foremost I have to say that Ursula K. Le Guin is one of my favourite authors (if not THE favourite). I bought this book without knowing what it was about. Her name on the cover was enough. And it didn't disappoint.
Different from her other works, Lavinia is based on the Aeneid, telling the story of Lavinia, to whom Virgil devoted little space. Would I like it better had I read the masterpiece? Maybe, but I enjoyed discovering bit by bit the story of Lavinia and Aeneas.
Lavinia is a love story in essence, but it is also much more than that. It's about family and tradition, war and betrayal, and about giving voice to a character that had none. What did I like about this book? I loved the slight non-linearity of it. I loved the metafiction aspect of it. I loved that despite knowing what was going to happen in the end, I still wanted to know how it happened. I truly recommend this book.