Author Archives: Barbara Howe

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Most of the books I review on this blog are ones that I can endorse, ranging from lightweight, pleasant entertainment to hefty tomes worth the effort for the emotional or intellectual impact. That has been a deliberate choice; I’d rather … Continue reading

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This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin

What is This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin about if it isn’t about Charles Darwin? The creative process, primarily, as the author, Emma Darwin, explores her failure to write a novel about the Darwin family, and the toll … Continue reading

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Mistborn

The Final Empire is a grim dark place, caught for a thousand years in the iron fist of the Lord Ruler, a god-like immortal with a squad of fanatical minions, the Steel Inquisitors, bent on rooting out heresy and enforcing … Continue reading

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Trip Diaries

Years ago, when I was single, I always travelled with a trip diary: a small notebook to record anything I wanted to remember about my experiences. I carried a camera, too, and took photos, but there are many things a … Continue reading

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Witch

The old house is perfect. Ellen March falls in love on first sight with the pre-Revolution farmhouse, sitting in a clearing surrounded by lilacs, apple trees, dogwoods, oaks, and maples. It doesn’t matter to her that the locals say the … Continue reading

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The Spirit Ring

Lois McMaster Bujold’s noblebright fantasy The Spirit Ring, set in Renaissance Italy, opens with a young woman, Fiametta, assisting her father, Prospero Beneforte, master craftsman and mage, in putting the final touches on a magical poison-detecting salt cellar. Their richly … Continue reading

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The Silence of Medair

I cried over Andrea K Höst’s noblebright fantasy novel, The Silence of Medair. That’s a compliment, you understand. To become so engrossed in a story that the real world gets put on hold for a few hours, to identify so … Continue reading

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2018 Recap

Out of the six dozen or so books I read (or started and abandoned) this year, here are the ones that were most successful in capturing my attention and drawing me into that state of willing suspension of disbelief long … Continue reading

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Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

The match is entirely unsuitable. Everyone in the small British village of Edgecombe St Mary agrees on that. He, a retired career army officer, rubs shoulders with the titled and the wealthy; she’s the village shopkeeper. He’s a respected member … Continue reading

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Why does fantasy have to be so long?

Why is so much speculative fiction so long? In the past year I have read several stories that were more than 500 pages: Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (782 pages), Brandon Sanderson’s Well of Ascension (763 pages), Eric … Continue reading

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