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The Haunting of Hill House
Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller
The Mirror Empire
Kameron Hurley
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Jack Weatherford

In Ashes Lie

In Ashes Lie - Marie Brennan There was, I think, a pretty good 300 page book buried in here somewhere. I enjoyed the historical fiction sections, although I'm not sure trying to throw the rise and fall of King Charles, the plague, and the Great Fire of London all into one book was a good idea. Unfortunately, the faerie sections were much weaker, lacking both a sense of the numinous and the complex politics of the mortal court. It's a bad sign when this devoted fantasy reader is skipping past elves to read more about Parliament and printing presses.

My back-to-front reading style meant I actually ended up reading this book more in chronological order than it was printed--and I think I would have liked it a lot less if I hadn't. I have no idea why the author made the decision to take what would have been the last part of the book and split it up into a series of very short chapters sprinkled between the other parts. It removes all narrative tension and also muddles the character growth arc that's central to the book. I know it's weird of me to complain about this when I do read endings first, but all I can say is there's a different feel, a different set of expectations, to reading something knowingly out of order.

Probably my favorite part of the book was the exploration of the theme of sovereignty--what does it mean, if one's right to rule is genuinely divinely appointed? What does it mean if it isn't? And does that make any difference in one's responsibilities and rights? I would have liked more philosophical discussion and argument on the point, which also might have been an opportunity to give more characterization to Lune's somewhat dimensionless faerie courtiers.

I will read the next book, because I already own it and because its historical period is Relevant to My Interests. But unless it stuns me, I don't think I'll be picking up the fourth.