Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

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Author C. C. Finlay and I were Tweeting the other day about Jane Austen — he had just read Pride & Prejudice for the first time and was essentially wondering how he’d lived his whole life thus far without it. Like any Austenite worth her salt, I then advised him to seek out the A&E miniseries of P&P. I can’t tell you how many six-hour blocks I’ve lost, enraptured by that show. Like Chinese take-out and ice cream, Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth are my comfort food. Even just talking about the miniseries makes me itch to see it again. Only. . . I wasn’t itching to see it again, because I happened to be right in the middle of reading Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey. (Read more)

I fell for it, I did: hook, line, and sinker. It’s been so long since walking into a bookstore hasn’t been work, I was beginning to wonder if I’d lost that magic, that urge that takes you over when you see a certain cover or a certain author or some mystic convergence of them both. “Come on, Alethea,” you say. “It’s like riding a bike,” you say. But the last time I did that was ten years ago, back when my daredevil ignorance sent me over Devil’s Ridge and broke every bone in my body (except those three little ones in the ear). I was scared at first. I didn’t know what I was looking for — something to sweep away my troubles and lose me in wonderment. Steamed, by Katie MacAlister, was not that book. (Read more)

I really liked the premise of this book — I would call it a lighter version of Robin McKinley’s Deerskin. Our main character is the Shifter, a creature of fog and wind who takes human form when the king of the land braves the Mistwood and calls upon her (usually a “her”) to protect him and his throne. The Shifter has been around for countless centuries, a mythical creature steeped in lore and legends as strange and complicated as the girl herself. Each incarnation of the Shifter retains very few memories of her previous incarnations, but she is haunted by familiar places and faces and etiquette she’s encountered before. (Read more)