Waiting on Wednesday: A Darker Shade of Magic

Waiting on Wednesday is a feature normally hosted at Breaking the Spine, though it hasn’t been updated during January. Regardless, I felt the need to share this one.

Cover of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands. There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there’s Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London…but no one speaks of that now.Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.

Since I received access to the preview excerpt on Netgalley, my first Waiting on Wednesday post for a while is an obvious choice… V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. I have various of Schwab’s books somewhere on Mount TBR, some lurking in the foothills even, but I haven’t got round to them. Based on the small part of the excerpt I read, I think A Darker Shade of Magic will probably be the first book I read by this author. I didn’t stop reading because I didn’t like it: quite the opposite. I usually hate teasers when I can’t get hold of the full book, and that’s exactly what happened in this case. I really, really want the book already, and I only read a few pages, skimmed a bit more, and generally skidded over the surface of the book.

I mean, when you open with this, what do you expect?

Kell wore a very peculiar coat.

It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.

The first thing he did whenever he stepped out of one London and into another was take off the coat and turn it inside out once or twice (or even three times) until he found the side he needed. Not all of them were fashionable, but they each served a purpose. There were ones that blended in and ones that stood out, and one that served no purpose but of which he was just particularly fond.

I don’t know if anyone needs to read further, but I sure don’t. I’m hooked, if just to hear more about that impossible coat.

A Darker Shade of Magic is out February 24th 2015!

Waiting on Wednesday: Cherie Priest’s Maplecroft

Wednesday again, and time for Waiting on Wednesday!

I’ve been watching for tweets about this one like a hawk. I haven’t loved every Cherie Priest I’ve read, but I’ve appreciated and enjoyed them all, and I’m excited about this one.

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one….Cover of Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.

This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

Waiting on Wednesday: Garth Nix’s Clariel

Meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This is kind of inevitable and needs no spotlighting from me, but since I’m knee-deep in a reread of Lirael at the moment, it leaps to mind — and I really like the cover. Sadly, I haven’t been able to get approved for the e-ARC of this on Edelweiss, so I’m just hoping to win it… or I’ll have to wait until my pre-order arrives.

(If you have a copy you’re done with and are in the UK, I’d pay for the postage to borrow it. Just saying.)

Clariel is the daughter of the one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most importantly, to the King. When her family moves to the city of Belisaere, there are rumors that her mother is next in line for the throne. However, Clariel wants no part of it—a natural hunter, all she ever Cover of Clariel by Garth Nixthinks about is escaping the city’s confining walls and journeying back to the quiet, green world of the Great Forest.

But many forces conspire against Clariel’s dream. A dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she discovers hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage, and save the King?

Waiting On Wednesday: Bruce Holsinger’s A Burnable Book

A lot of posts are going to be turning up today, I’m afraid. Like buses, post topics seem to come up all at once. (I could schedule them, but this is specifically a Wednesday meme, and the other thing I’ll post later is something I always do on Wednesdays. So!)

Anyway, this post is about Waiting On Wednesday, a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, in which people highlight books they’re eagerly waiting for. Mine for this week is Bruce Holsinger’s A Burnable Book. I was part of Holsinger’s Plagues, Witches and War Coursera MOOC on historical fiction, and I really enjoyed his teaching style, and appreciated the way he engaged with the students. So I’m looking forward to the book because I’m interested professionally/academically, so to speak, but also because it involves Gower and Chaucer and — well, I’ll let the blurb speak for itself, shall I?

Cover of A Burnable Book, by Bruce HolsingerIn Chaucer’s London, betrayal, murder and intrigue swirl around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England’s kings. A Burnable Book is an irresistible thriller, reminiscent of classics like An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Name of the Rose and The Crimson Petal and the White.

London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt’s flamboyant mistress, Katherine Swynford—England’s young, still untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London—catchy verses said to originate from an
ancient book that prophesies the end of England’s kings—and among the book’s predictions is Richard’s assassination. Only a few powerful men know that the cryptic lines derive from a “burnable book,” a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a professional trader in information with connections high and low.

Gower discovers that the book and incriminating evidence about its author have fallen into the unwitting hands of innocents, who will be drawn into a labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king’s court to London’s slums and stews–and potentially implicates his own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to save a king from a terrible fate.

Medieval scholar Bruce Holsinger draws on his vast knowledge of the period to add colorful, authentic detail—on everything from poetry and bookbinding to court intrigues and brothels—to this highly entertaining and brilliantly constructed epic literary mystery that brings medieval England gloriously to life.