What are your favorite fantasy novels, dear senza?
This is now one of them. It might even be one I come back to, which is rare for me with fantasy novels. It's usually enough for me to consume the story and be done with it.
My fantasy trajectory has been pretty traditional and I don't think there's any point mentioning the usual suspects, so I won't. I've recently started seeking out contemporary fantasy/magical realism so I'll list a few that stood out instead.
1. Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson. Hackers, genies and magical books in the Arab Spring. Awesome.
2. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. A laid off graphic designer gets himself a new job and stumbles upon a bookstore, a readers' cult ... and yes, more magical books, in the process. I have a thing for magical books. Warning: No magic and no other worlds. This is good old 21st-century America all the way. Still worth it.
3. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Two immigrants meet, fight the bad guys, and fall in love in turn-of-the-century New York. Neither is human (consider the title).
4. The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. Neurotic grad student leaves heartbreak and academic drudgery behind to go off with the fairies. A surly magician rescues her from a life of beauty and luxury.
5. The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman. It's been 15 years since you first encountered your childhood fantasy favorites and they want to show you they've grown up too. All the characters are whiny, self-absorbed and amoral, none more so than the hero. This is depressed Harry Potter/Narnia on antidepressants and self-consciously post-modern and derivative to boot. I hated it but it was oddly satisfying to read.
I just started reading A Discovery of Witches, the first book in Deborah Harkness' All Souls Trilogy. Don't like it so far. It's basically Twilight for the "intellectually inclined." Ugh.
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville looks FAR more promising. Quick snapshot (since I've only read the first chapter or so): Gritty steampunk in a deliciously grimy, decaying city. I think it's going to be good.
Back in 87, our English teacher gave us a Scholastic Magazine called Literary Cavalcade. Each issue centered on a literary piece and would publish several pages from that work. I remember reading and liking excerpts from Mark Salzman's book "Iron and Silk". I ordered it a couple days ago and it's here. I hope it's as good as I remember it.