Books read, February 2013

The Devil in the Dust, Chaz Brenchley ([personal profile] desperance). On one of the flights for my book tour, the woman in the seat next to me apologized for not alerting me that the drink cart had come by. “You looked so wrapped up in your book,” she said. And I was. Sometimes in a disturbed fashion, since Brenchley really gets the pathological, Stockholm Syndrome extremes of medieval Christianity, but sometimes in a good way. I was fascinated by the not!Christianity of the setting and the utter weirdness (only partially explained thus far) of Surayon, and I want to know more about the djinn. Clearly the solution is to obtain the next book.

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison. Advance uncorrected manuscript, read for blurbing purposes. Intrictate political fantasy about the half-goblin son of an elven emperor, who inherits the throne when everybody ahead of him gets killed. Maia does not have an easy time of it, but watching him learn the hard way how to run a country was satisfying.

Spirit’s Princess, Esther Friesner. Part of Friesner’s “Princesses of Myth” series; this one follows Himiko, a figure in prehistoric Japan. I sort of wanted this either to be shorter, or to be combined with the sequel to make one fat book, because so much of its length is spent on “Himiko can’t have the life she wants.” Obstacles are good, but you don’t actually get the results of Himiko overcoming/bypassing them in this volume.

Kat, Incorrigible, Stephanie Burgis. AKA A Most Improper Magick. A fun fantasy-Regency YA. I think my favorite thing in this was the sisters: the first couple of pages primed me to see them as Evil (Not-Step-)Sisters, but they’re nothing of the sort. Kat’s relationship with them is complicated, with them getting along on some matters and not at all on others — which is entirely realistic. And I’m a sucker for good sibling relationships. The second book of this series is about to come out in paperback (in the US, I think? Already published in the UK?), with the third in hardcover next month, so I’ll probably zoom through the rest of these soon.

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, Deborah Blum. Read for a book club. Basically about the invention of toxicology as an investigative art during the early twentieth century, in the face of opposition from New York’s massively corrupt city government. Full of grotty details about “wet chemistry,” so if you’re squeamish, consider yourself warned. But also very interesting, and horrifying — as much or more for all the ways you could accidentally get poisoned by everything around you back then as for the actual deliberate murders.

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