Tuesday, 28 August 2018

How to Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger

How to Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger is a stand-alone novella set in her much loved parasol historical urban fantasy world. It’s set some time during the Custard Protocol series, but can be read independently of all the other stories, providing only minor spoilers due to being set in the future relative to Parasol Protectorate series.

Guilty of an indiscretion? Time to marry a werewolf.


The monsters left Faith ruined in the eyes of society, so now they’re her only option. Rejected by her family, Faith crosses the Atlantic, looking for a marriage of convenience and revenge.

But things are done differently in London. Werewolves are civilized. At least they pretend to be.


Backward heathens with no culture, Major Channing has never had time for any of them. But there’s something special about Faith. Channing finds himself fighting to prove himself and defend his species. But this werewolf has good reason not to trust human women.

Even if they learn to love, can either of them forgive?

I picked up this novella to read, after buying it a few months ago when it first came out, because I was in the mood for something relaxing and fun after finishing my previous book and not being in the mood to start the one I’d planned to read next. This was an excellent choice. As I have come to expect from this author, How To Marry a Werewolf was a delightful read that mixed humour and more serious moments.

The two main characters are Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings — the gamma of the London werewolf pack — and Faith, an American cast out by her family and sent to London. While Channing has appeared in many other books, we never learnt much of his back story at all, and that’s something which comes out in this book. Faith, as a completely new character, brings in some American culture (they are less accepting of immortals across the pond and her parents very much for that mould) as well as her own baggage. The suspense between the characters’ backgrounds and their slightly unconventional courtship (and the frequent appearances of Biffy and Lyall) made for a very entertaining read.

I highly recommend this book to fans of Gail Carriger’s other books. For readers unfamiliar with the series, this is a good book to get a taste of her style without any vital spoilers for any other books.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: May 2018, self-published
Series: Yes, same world as her other books, but stands alone
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased from Kobo (I think)

Sunday, 26 August 2018

#ReadShortStories to milestone quantities (146 to 150)

Wow, I've hit 150 stories in my attempt to read more short fiction and I think it's safe to say that I'll probably reach 200 by the end of the year. I've even not been neglecting novels etc as much as I did closer to the start of the year. Huzzah!

This batch is exclusively Mother of Invention stories, because I was on a bit of a roll and because it was easy to just keep reading the next story on my phone while I was commuting or waiting for things over the past week. I'm almost done with that anthology though, so there will probably be fewer AI stories once it's done.

Living Proof by Nisi Shawl — A story about an AI reproducing. The setting was quite different — a prison — and to some degree aspects of the story put me in mind of Bitch Planet. Not the overall thrust of the narrative, however, which is more about purpose from the AI perspective. Not my favourite story, but I didn’t hate it. Source: Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts

S’elfie by Justina Robson — A very interesting story about a world in which everyone has an AI personal assistant and what happens when they move far beyond what we currently have with Siri etc. Told from the point of view of one of these AIs, while her human is working on something in secret, I really enjoyed the incomplete knowledge of the narration.  Source: Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Knitting Day by Jen White — A lovely story about knitted robots, poor working conditions and the subversion of capitalism. I enjoyed it, despite its grim setting and whimsical approach to assembly. Source: Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts

The Revivalist by Kaaron Warren — A creepy story (of course, look at the author) about a process that imbues discarded robots with the last words of the dead. Mostly murder victims. I liked it. And note it wasn’t heavy on the horror, more creepy/eerie. Source: Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Arguing with People on the Internet by E H Mann — An interesting story about an AI set loose arguing with people on the internet to unexpected consequences. Also features an asexual protagonist and engages with the concept of motherhood from a different angle. I quite liked it. Source: Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Monday, 20 August 2018

The Girl With the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis

The Girl With the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis is a sequel to The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart, but the books are both quite self contained and could be read out of order, if one didn’t mind a few spoilers for the first book being contained in the second. As with the prequel, this is a book for younger readers (or middle grade) with the main character being only around 13 years old. However, it’s written in a sufficiently captivating way that I expect many older readers will also enjoy it, as I did.

Once upon a time, in a beautiful city famous for chocolate and protected by dragons, there was a girl so fearless that she dared to try to tell the greatest story of all: the truth.

Silke has always been good at spinning the truth and storytelling. So good that just years after arriving as a penniless orphan, she has found her way up to working for the most splendid chocolate makers in the city (oh, and becoming best friends with a dragon). Now her gift for weaving words has caught the eye of the royal family, who want to use her as a spy when the mysterious and dangerous fairy royal family announce they will visit the city. But Silke has her own dark, secret reasons for not trusting fairies ...

Can Silke find out the truth about the fairies while keeping her own secrets hidden?

This book follows Silke, who we met in the first book as the friend of Aventurine, the dragon who had been turned into a girl. In the first book we mainly saw her venture into the world of advertising to promote the chocolate shop with hand bills and slightly tall tails. In this book she gets her own story, which does involve the handbills but also a lot of family history and a new adventure/problem. We also see more of the crown princess who runs Drachenburg and get to know her younger sister.

The Girl With a Dragon Heart was a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend to people who enjoyed the first book or readers that enjoy cosy fantasy stories. This one had maybe a little bit more darkness than the first book (and also a bit less chocolate) but was still overall a very fun read.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: August 2018, Bloomsbury
Series: Yes. Book 2 of 2 of the Tales From the Chocolate Heart
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Friday, 17 August 2018

#ReadShortStories of various provenances (141 to 145)

A varied batch this time, breaking up my anthology reading again. Mostly based on whim. And I'm afraid I'm too tired for much of a preamble today, so here are some story mini-reviews!

Loss of Signal by S.B. Divya — A near future space programmed powered by human minds who have been extracted from their non-functional bodies. This story raised a lot of ethical points, not all of them explicitly, and made me feel a little uneasy. The premise is interesting but I’m ultimately not sure how I feel about the story (though I definitely liked it more than I disliked it). Source: https://www.tor.com/2018/08/01/loss-of-signal-sb-divya/

Sugar Ricochets to Other Forms by Octavia Cade — A pretty weird story. On the one hand, we have a couple of women running a brothel staffed with magic automaton boys made out of sugar and cake (who often come back with parts missing in the morning). On the other hand, there is a clockwork witch made of brass I love with baby crabs lured by sugar. A compelling read, but also a strange one. Source: Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts

The Flower of Arizona  by Seanan McGuire — A story set in the 1920s about a cryptozoologist and a circus performer. And a spate of murders. I enjoyed it and, since it seems to be the set up for more stories about these two characters, I looking forward to reading more about them. (I picked this story to try because the blurb on the author’s website had the greatest promise of Aeslin mice, and I was not disappointed.) Source: Hugo voter packet

Frozen Voice by An Owomoyela — Children living in a post-alien invasion world. Aliens who force their language on humans and technically prevent starvation etc by having killed most of the population. Also, they’re afraid of books. The writing style was quite visceral and I enjoyed being drawn into the story. Source: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/owomoyela_07_11/

Kill Screen by EC Myers — A teenage girl makes an AI program of her recently deceased best friend. It was a bit morbid, mostly because it dealt with the question of why the friend had killed herself, but also for other reasons (spoilers). I mostly enjoyed it, but it also made me feel uncomfortable (intentionally, I assume), especially near the end. Source: Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire

Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire is the second book in the ongoing InCryptid series. I recently read and reviewed the first book, Discount Armageddon, and then accidentally fell into this one, despite owning it as a paperback (of the unpleasant cheap US stinky variety — a plight that even sitting on my shelf for a few years can't fix). As with the first book, I read it in less than two days.

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity--and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest. It didn't quite work out that way...

But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing—until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city's readiness for a cryptid purge. With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there's no way Verity can take that lying down.

Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity's apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ--assuming there's anyone left standing when all is said and done. It's a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit...and carnage.

This is a direct sequel to Discount Armageddon and I advise reading it after that book, despite the relatively episodic and self-contained nature of both books. Midnight Blue-Light Special builds on the relationships established in that first book and the two of them can be seen as a two-part mini-series within the larger InCryptid universe. (I am basing that on a few assumptions since I haven't read the later books, but according to the afterword book 3 follows a different protagonist, so I think it's a fair statement.) If you enjoyed the first book, I definitely recommend picking up this sequel.

Set a few months after the events in Discount Armageddon, the new problem facing Verity and her friends is the Covenant of St George — the secret monster-killing organisation — who have sent a few more representatives to New York to see what's really going on over there. This is a problem since what's going on is a lot of peaceful supernatural beings are calling New York home and Verity is the main person standing between them and the Covenant.

I enjoyed this book for much of the same reasons as the first one: it's a fun read, populated with all sorts of female characters. As a bonus, the shift in the romantic plot line from introductory to more established and with higher stakes was more fun to read. Aside from the antagonists, there aren't many new characters introduced in this one, which mostly builds on the character relationships established in the first book. In particular, Sarah, Verity's cousin, gets to play a larger role — to the extent of appearing on the cover and having a few chapters from her point of view.

Overall, I recommend this series to fans of urban fantasy who enjoy fun and fast-paced reads filled with female characters, most of whom kick arse. I strongly suggest starting with Discount Armageddon, but I expect Midnight Blue-Light Special would be readable on it's own (but would lose a lot of emotional impact with less backstory behind it). I plan to keep reading the series, but since the next book follows a different character, this seems like a good place to take a break and read some other books for a while.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2013, Daw
Series: InCryptid book 2 of 7 so far with more coming
Format read: Paperback, the horror
Source: An Australian online book shop, who had it for a steep discount a few years ago

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire is the first book in the author's InCryptid urban fantasy series. I've previously read many books and stories by Seanan McGuire (and her alter ego Mira Grant) but this is only my second foray into her urban fantasy novels.

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity—and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city...

When I was pressed for time towards the end of Hugo voting season, I decided to make my last few decisions by reading the first couple of chapters of the remaining books, this one among them. After that I had to get back to other (review) books, but when I had the chance, this was the book I wanted to pick up the most. It was the sentient, religious mice that really won me over.

The protagonist of this story is the scion of a family that used to be part of the "exterminate everything supernatural" society (aka the Covenant) until her great-grandparent defected. Now they study and protect the supernatural and stop the more aggressive members of that group from preying on humans. Verity in particular is well trained in fighting and enjoys cryptozoology and ballroom dancing. She's making a go of in New York: dancing, waitressing in a strip club (hence the cover art) and keeping the peace. The main story happens when a chap from the Covenant shows up, intent on a purge, but not responsible for a spate of recent disappearances...

This wasn't a complicated read but it was a fun one. As I said, I really liked the mice and most of the other characters also made for fun reading (basically, except for the bad guys). I felt a bit meh with regards to the romantic storyline, which was simultaneously a bit underdeveloped and predictable — the latter partly because there weren't many other male characters around. (On the other hand, yay for lots of female characters!)

I quite enjoyed this book and found it enough of a fun read that I am definitely interested in continuing with the series. I definitely recommend it to fans of urban fantasy looking for a fun read with a bit of a scientific take on different supernatural creatures. As it happens, I picked up book 2 on sale in paper (urgh) several years ago, so I already have it waiting on my shelf, huzzah. So I will be getting to that just as soon as I can bring myself to read a paper book again.

4 / 5 stars

First published: 2012, Daw
Series: InCryptid book 1 of 7 so far with more on the way
Format read: ePub
Source: Hugo Voter Packet (in this case, from the publisher via NetGalley)

Thursday, 9 August 2018

#ReadShortStories about philosophical concepts in science fictional contexts (136 to 140)

A couple of stories from Uncanny Issue 22 in this batch, followed by three from Mother of Invention, an anthology edited by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts. I'm now halfway through Mother of Invention and still enjoying the stories. Huzzah.

My favourite story in this batch is the John Chu, which is not a huge surprise. I look forward to the day when he has enough stories to warrant his own collection...

Sucks (to Be You) by Katharine Duckett — A succubus tells us about her life and how much easier it is for her to feed off people’s thoughts of her in the modern world of social media. My favourite thing about this story was how textual the subtext got. I liked it. Source: https://uncannymagazine.com/article/sucks-to-be-you/

Discard the Sun, for It Has Failed Us by Marina J. Lostetter — While this isn’t what I would normally think of as my kind of story, I quite liked it. It was a short story about worshipping the sun and keeping it alive before it’s time. Source: https://uncannymagazine.com/article/discard-the-sun-for-it-has-failed-us/

Fata Morgana by Cat Sparks — Post-apocalyptic/war-torn Australia with fighting mechs wandering around, at least one of which is intelligent. In rough conditions the mech protects the old lady that was its creator and helps a poor settlement. I enjoyed it. Source: Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Quantifying Trust by John Chu — A robot engineering grad student works on her design and ponders the question of trust for AI. And meets a postdoc who may or may not be an advanced AI sent from the future. I really liked this story. Source: Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Bright Shores by Rosaleen Love — A fantastical story about robots (and one woman) living in a nuclear exclusion zone. Clearly taking cues from the Fukushima tsunami disaster, I liked the premise of the robots left behind (because they are too contaminated from dealing with radioactive material), but it lost me a bit with some of the less scientific ideas. Source: Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers is another standalone novel set in the Wayfarers universe, along with Long Way To A Small Angry Planet and A Closed And Common Orbit both of which I've previously reviewed and enjoyed. Although it continues the trend of gorgeous covers, I didn't quite enjoy this one as much as the other two Wayfarers books.

From the ground, we stand. From our ship, we live. By the stars, we hope

Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.

Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left for the stars, but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened.

Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn't know where to find it.

Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.

When a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:

What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?

The title of this novel pretty literally describes the story. The book is about a fleet of generation ships that left Earth in search of better worlds after it had been completely ruined. Some time after that, the Exodan fleet encountered the Galactic Commons which is a conglomeration of alien with much better technology than what the Exodans left home with. So the Exodan fleet, a few generations after first contact, find themselves in a position to merge with the rest of galactic civilisation (including the humans left behind on Mars and around the Solar System), and some use the opportunity of new technology to head for planets. But some are used to the way of life on the ships and, with a few technological improvements and the gift of a sun no one else was using, continue to live life their ancestors did. This is a story about some of those people.

It's quite a philosophical premise and makes for a fairly philosophical and very character-driven story. The characters are set up to show us different aspects of life among the Fleet and how Exodan values clash and mesh with the outside world. We get a very good idea of how life works for the Exodans — the foil of a visiting alien was very useful on that front — and the problems faced with integrating with the rest of the galaxy; down to the fact that Exodans don't have a currency but rather a barter system, and speak a different language to Martians.

The reason I didn't enjoy Record of a Spaceborn Few as much as the earlier stories is mainly because there were so many characters that I kept getting some of them confused for a pretty large chunk of the book. I'm not great with remembering character names, so even though each chapter was headed by the relevant PoV character's name, I was still getting a bit lost and losing track of things for a bit more than half the book. I had it sorted in my mind by the end but the frustration had already taken place by then. (I was tempted to go back and reread the prologue again to see if it had a bigger impact, but didn't.)

The issue, for me, was that the female characters, of which there were three, had quite distinct work lives but their home lives were not that obviously connected to their work. My brain just struggled to link character at home A with character at work A. I'm not even sure that it was because I was especially tired when I was reading... I had less trouble with the male characters because they were kind of less multifaceted; one was clearly distinguished as The Foreigner, while the other was The Teenager.

By the time I got to the end of this book I was properly enjoying it but I think it's a pity that it took me so long to get to that point. All of Chambers' work has been quite character-driven but this is the first time it didn't really work for me (there were parts of A Closed and Common Orbit that I found a bit dull, but they were interspersed with the parts I was more invested in, making up for it). While I didn't dislike any of the characters, I also wasn't solidly invested in any of them — probably thanks to getting them confused earlier on. This isn't the ideal situation for a character-driven story, alas.

Anyway, if you enjoyed the earlier Wayfarers books and you have a penchant for character-driven stories, then I definitely recommend Record of a Spaceborn Few. If the premise and the concepts I mentioned interest you, then I also suggest giving this book a go. I think it would be interesting to reread Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and then this one to get the full impact of the worldbuilding of different areas across both books... but it's definitely not necessary to have read any other Chambers books before starting this one.

3.5 / 5 stars

First published: July 2018, Hachette Australia
Series: Wayfarers book 3 of 3 so far, but they can be read in any order
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells is the third novella in the Murderbot Diaries series, which started with All Systems Red last year and was followed by Artificial Condition earlier this year. Although each novella tells a self-contained story, they're more like chapter's in Muderbot's life and the bulk of the characterisation work was done earlier on in the first book and I think there's less recapping of backstory in Rogue Protocol. All of which is to say that if you haven't read this series before, I recommend starting with book 1. In any case, this review will contain some spoilers for the earlier books.

SciFi’s favorite crabby A.I. is again on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is.

And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.

I really like the Muderbot books and this one continued the series nicely. It continued to make me laugh and progressed the story set up in the earlier books. There was danger, action and snark, and maybe a little less watching of TV shows and more having confusing emotions. As I said before, it wouldn't work as a standalone, in my opinion. But it is quite episodic, since in Rogue Protocol we have Murderbot meeting new people in a new location but also continuing the overarching story about the dodgy GrayCris Corporation.

In this story Murderbot encounters a different set of characters. Where previously we've watched its interactions with various humans and (separately) an artificial intelligence more advanced than Murderbot, this time we get a story with humans of various stripes and a less advanced AI robot. My favourite part of the story was the feelings the robot caused Murderbot to feel. I won't spoil the story by going into details, but they were many and varied.

The end of this novella seems to set up a final chapter in Murderbot's current story arc. I will be interested to see how it ends (of course) and also the direction of the recently announced novel which will follow the novellas. I highly recommend Rogue Protocol to fans of Murderbot and the whole series to fans of snark and science fiction, who are not averse to a bit of (non-gratuitous) violence.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: August 2018, Tor.com
Series: Murderbot Diaries book 3 of 4 (though a novel set after the novella series has been announced
Format read: ePub eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan is a standalone YA portal fantasy book that I picked up because it was shortlisted for the new YA (not a) Hugo award. It hooked me with the first sentence and, even though I originally had other plans, I ended up inhaling it in a day. Since it's not the shortest YA book ever, that did, unfortunately, involve staying up until almost 3 am.

The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border—unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and—best of all as far as Elliot is concerned—mermaids.

Elliot? Who’s Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.

It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There’s even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.

Told from the first person perspective of Elliot, a sarcastic and hyperintelligent teen, In Other Lands is in part a scathing commentary on the moral and ethical ambiguity of a certain class of portal fantasy worlds. Elliot's voice is what makes this book an excellent read and so if sarcasm is not your kind of thing you'd probably best give this a miss. On the other hand, if you enjoy the deconstruction of portal fantasy tropes and don't hate humorous banter, then this is the book for you.

The one flaw I found in this book was the telegraphing hooks at the ends of some of the sections. I did not realise when I started reading, but apparently In Other Lands was originally published serially online, and I can see why tantalising hooks all over the place were conducive to that format. In the book format, however, I found some of these to be irritating semi-spoilers of what was to come in the following section. Even when one hook confirmed something I had guessed plot-wise, I was still annoyed by it. But there weren't that many that stood out for me and over the course of the book this was a relatively minor flaw.

The only thing that annoyed me about Elliot was his fixation with having/getting a romantic partner. However, this certainly fit in with how his character was portrayed from the very beginning and worked within the story, driving it forward in between external events. And it provided a counterbalance to the "Oh my god, we're child soldiers!" and "but don't you want to write a good treaty?" sides of the story. It does mean there's more sex that you might expect in a YA book, but it's all of the fade-to-black variety and certainly fits in with the world building (if you're treating teenagers like adults in the arena of war...). The fact that one of Elliot's best friends is an elf girl and that elven culture is pretty much gender-swapped traditional human culture, magnifies this aspect and also allows for some interesting discussion.

Overall I enjoyed this book a lot — as evidenced by how quickly I read it — and I would definitely read more books in the same style (although I don't expect a sequel for this one). The irreverent format provides and excellent vehicle to question some of the ideas that have been normalised in children's portal fantasy stories and bring others down to earth. I highly recommend it to fans of the genre.

5 / 5 stars

First published: 2017, Small Beer Press
Series: No (but there is a tie-in short story, apparently)
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased on Apple Books