Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Some spin-off short stories

One of my backer rewards from the Crudrat kickstarter were audio-short stories of Gail Carriger's other works. I reviewed Fairy Debt before and the story I'm reviewing today is the other one I hadn't previously read of the set.

The story is The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar. It's set in the Parasol Protectorate universe and features the father of Alexia, the main character of that series. I would recommend reading the story after having read the Parasol Protectorate books because some things are alluded to which are spoilers for the series. That said, no definite spoilers are revealed so if you can still read it alone.

The story tells us a lot more about Alessandro Tarabotti than we learn in the Parasol Protectorate, the latter being set after his death. On a trip to Egypt with his butler Floote, Alessandro encounters or deals with all the things mentioned in the long title of the story. It was an entertaining listen and illuminating as to the nature and employment of Alessandro. Highly recommended, particularly to Parasol Protectorate fans.

4.5 / 5 stars

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The second story I want to talk about is This Night So Dark by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, a free e-short/novella (well it was about 50 PDF pages) set in the Starbound universe (to complement These Broken Stars and in anticipation of the release of the second book, This Shattered World. You can download it for free from the Australian link or from the US link (the Scribd link on either is probably your best bet if you're outside of Australia or the US).

Reading This Night So Dark reminded me of why (and how much) I enjoyed These Broken Stars. The authors' writing style is eminently readable and enjoyable, which is hard to remember the particulars of when there's a long gap between books. That, of course, would be why their first book won an Aurealis Award.

This Night So Dark tells the story of an adventure of Tarver's set before These Broken Stars. It is, in fact, the reason he becomes such a decorated soldier at such a young age and it was not quite what I was expecting. From the way it was referenced in These Broken Stars I had the impression it was something battle-field related, but that's not the case. It's more of a small mission (sort of, trying to avoid spoilers here) against bad odds. The important thing is that it's an entertaining read.

I definitely recommend This Night So Dark to fans of These Broken Star. It's free, why wouldn't you give it a shot? I think it's also a good taste of Kaufman and Spooner's writing which should give new readers an accurate idea of whether they'll enjoy their novel-length work.

4.5 / 5

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