Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Promise Kept: Being a Review of The Stepsister Scheme

In November of 2007, I had the great good fortune to help organize the Fantasy Matters Conference in Minneapolis. It was an amazing, if exhausting, experience, and I got to meet a number of really cool people, whose names I am not going to attempt to list, for fear that this will turn into something akin to one of those award acceptance speeches wherein the actor thanks her dogwalker, but not her mom.

During that weekend, I got to hear readings from two unpublished books, that made me really look forward to the finished works. One of which was The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. This is not a review of that book. (Although it is gorgeous, with a seeming effortlessness to it that delights me as a reader, and makes me really envious as a writer. Go read it.)

The other book, which this is a review of, was The Stepsister Scheme, by Jim C. Hines. I am a sucker for a retold fairy tale, so I was excited about the book even before Jim's reading. After Jim's reading, I was even more excited. We had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: That was so good. When is it coming out?
Jim: January.
Me: (Counts months. Realizes that January follows November fairly closely.) Excellent!
Jim: Of 2009.
Me: Oh.

It was worth the wait. The Stepsister Scheme is what happens after the "happily ever after," starring Danielle (Cinderella), Talia (Sleeping Beauty), and Snow (who I will not make grumpy by listing her real name.) It's a vastly entertaining read, with just the right mix of peril and comedy. The women are real people, complex and compelling characters, especially Talia, who I hope to see more of in the upcoming novels in this series. 

But my favorite bits of the book are the details. The quick reference to one of my favorite poems, Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market. Talia's fencing, which is actual fencing. The descriptions of Snow's mirror magic. And the reality of the interactions between the three women.

A recent post on Jim's blog announces the sale of the fourth book in the series, with an expected publication date of 2011. Happily ever after, indeed.

Friday, February 27, 2009

And so it begins

I have been playing around with the idea of blogging for a while now. Really, since the Endicott Studio's Journal of Mythic Arts, where I was a staff reviewer, closed its doors. One of the things I loved best about reviewing was telling people about things that I loved. So now I will do that here. And there may be other things as well. If we're all lucky, there may be magic.

I may tell you about something new that I have read and loved, or share with you an old favorite. I may witter on, at appalling length, about writing my first novel or finishing my dissertation. Or the madness of attempting both at once. There may be interludes where I talk about music, or fencing, or whatever random shiny object has currently captured my fancy. You never know. 

But welcome in. Have a cup of tea. Stay a bit. And don't worry at all about those shapes in the shadows. I'm almost sure they're friendly.