March fiction roundup

Better late than never, right? April has been a rough month, so while I wanted to get this done sooner, instead I worked on my novel every day and played video games every night and tried not to succumb to despair. As you do.

My favorites, as always, are marked with an asterisk.

Stories I read this month:
Goat Milk Cheese, Three Trillion Miles From Earth by Caroline M Yoachim
Things You Can Buy For a Penny by Will Kaufman*
Translatio Corporis by Kat Howard
Charge! Love Heart! by Rhiannon Rasmussen
Even the Mountains Are Not Forever By Laurie Tom*
Zanders the Magnificent by Annie Neugebauer
A Screech of Gulls by Alyc Helms
Stranger by Sunil Patel
The Fox Bride by Mari Ness
The White Snake by Laurie Tom
Bit Player by Cat Rambo
26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss by Kij Johnson*

Books I read this month:
The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
Fool’s Run by Patricia McKillip
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

You’ll see two books there in the same series, The Glamourist Histories, which I bought because I had a strong feeling I’d love Jane Austen with magic. I was right; they were delightful. Arguably predictable to people who like Austen, but in a way that doesn’t matter. The first book was basically Pride and Prejudice, the second was The Scarlet Pimpernel, and I read them quickly and with gusto. If you like Mairelon the Magician or other Regency fantasies, you’ll probably dig these.

The other two books were re-reads, though I hadn’t gone back to Lackey in a long time. I remember taking The Fire Rose out at the library and being so enchanted by the whole thing, and wondering what kind of elemental predilection I had, and even now I wonder why more people haven’t explored similar magical systems. But I have to admit that my tastes have changed, and I’m more sensitive now to the way the feminism of the story is presented. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it, but if you roll your eyes when a woman worries about whether she’s acting too masculine, regardless of historical context, you might want to pass on this.

Fool’s Run, on the other hand, holds up better. What I found interesting was how little I remembered about it, such that a lot felt fresh to me. At the same time, I found it a very strange read because the plot seemed intricate but light, like a carved eggshell, beautiful and detailed and somehow ultimately hollow. There was a kind of duality to all the characters, as if they were inhabiting roles while also having entirely different cores, and yet they too felt insufficiently fleshed out by the end. Not much happens, and it happens slowly, but the language and imagery are so lovely that you hardly notice.

With any luck, it won’t be a whole month before I post my next roundup. Until then, be well and read widely.

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