Review: Library of Legends by Janie Chang

Library of Legends by Janie Chang (William Morrow and Co. 2020)

Reviewed by Angela Gualtieri

In her latest novel, The Library of Legends, Janie Chang blends Chinese history with fantasy elements, adding a dash of romance.

Set in 1937 China, the Japanese aerial attacks begin to close in, forcing students at Minghua University to flee from Nanking to Chengtu. They carry with them the Library of Legends, a 147-volume record of myth and folklore from the Ming dynasty, 500 years ago. A priceless treasure, the Library of Legends brought students far and wide to Minghua, including Hu Lian. Lian is an introverted scholar fascinated with the historic tomes. Throughout the 1000-mile journey, Lian is torn between locating her mother and her duty to her school. She soon finds herself at the center of controversy when one student is murdered and another arrested. Knowing she must escape, Lian chooses to travel back to Shanghai in hopes of finding her mother. Along the way, she uncovers a special connection between the Library of Legends and two of her companions.

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Review: The Dragons, The Giant, The Women: A Memoir by Wayetu Moore

The Dragons, The Giant, The Women: A Memoir By Wayetu Moore (Graywolf Press 2020)

Reviewed by Allison McCausland

There is a quote by G.K. Chesterton that goes, “Fairy tales are not told to tell children that dragons exist. Children already know the dragons exist. Fairy tales are told to tell that dragons can be killed.” But what happens when the dragons follow a child throughout their life? Such is the case with author Wayetu Moore in her memoir The Dragons, The Giant, The Women.

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Review: An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon (Akashic: New York 2017)

Reviewed by Tracy Vasquez

Rivers Solomon’s science-fiction novel An Unkindness of Ghosts is masked in a pain.  The point of writing on the pain of others is to expose the reader to a point of view; in this instance, Solomon writes from the perspective of Aster, who identifies as gender fluid. Aster is searching for a consistent path in the uncertainty of the cosmos.  “She craved clarity, transparency and answers.” (169)  She longs for answers from her mother, who died when she was a baby; yet, a mapping of sorts leads her on a path set by her mother.  Cutting out the contrivances, we see Aster through her history of loss and survival on the vessel Matilda.

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Review: The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo (Flatiron Books, 2019)

Reviewed by Angela Gualtieri

Some stories tell of rich histories and folklore. Others enchant with forbidden romances and evil foes. Others are filled with emotional turmoil and death. And yet, some stories seem to encompass it all.

Set in 1930s Colonial Malaya (current Malaysia), Yangsze Choo’s The Night Tiger follows an eleven-year-old houseboy named Ren, tasked with fulfilling his dead master’s final wish to find his long-since detached finger. Ren only has 49 days to reunite the finger with its earthly body or his master’s soul will roam the Earth forever. Ji Lin, a young apprentice dressmaker moonlighting as a dancehall girl to pay her mother’s debts, accidentally receives one of her dance partner’s lucky charms: a mummified finger. As Ren and Ji Lin walk their destined paths unknowingly toward each other, a strange series of deaths, dreams of the in-between, and whispers of weretigers force them to fight their demons, both internal and external.

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Review: Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Five Midnights by Ann Davila Cardinal (Tor, 2019)

Reviewed by Maayan D’Antonio

16-year-old Lupe Dávila is a bi-ethnic “Gringa-Rican” from Vermont on her way to spend the summer in Puerto Rico with her father’s family. Only this time she is going alone, as her father has decided to stay behind. Lupe is desperate to experience Puerto Rico without the constraints of her uncle, the police chief, who is in the middle of a very perplexing murder case. And though he and Lupe often discuss his cases, as they both share a love of solving murders, this time he refuses to talk with her about it.

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Review: Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (Little, Brown, and Co., 2019)

Reviewed by Maayan D’Antonio

17-year-old Ari Helix is a refugee who has no impulse control. So when she sets off alarms she shouldn’t have on Heritage, a spaceship that belongs to the tyrannical Mercer Company, she and her brother Kay escape from the ship and hide on Old Earth, now a desolate planet. But when Ari pulls Excalibur from a gnarled tree, she unknowingly sets into motion a new cycle of the King Arthur legend. A cycle she doesn’t know has anything to do with her.

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Review: The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang

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The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang (Tor, 2018)

Reviewed by Carl Lavigne

I have never read a book quite like JY Yang’s, The Descent of Monsters, the third novella in their silkpunk Tensorate series. I have read and loved their first two installments, I have read Victorian epistolary novels, I have imbibed mysteries, thrillers, and other assorted noir, but never something that so successfully wove all these disparate DNAs together. Continue reading