What I’ve Been Reading Lately

These are the books I read over the past month (roughly October), and some of my thoughts on them.

First off, in anticipation of V.E. Schwab‘s new release Vengeful, I re-read the marvelous first installment Vicious(I also stared at the preceding line for a good ten minutes after writing it, to ensure I didn’t screw up either of those titles the way I did on Twitter. I’ve been called out by the author once, and she was very gracious in accepting my apology.) Of course as soon as it was available, I read Vengeful.

Vicious introduces us to Victor and Eli – and the first time I read it, I couldn’t be sure who was the villain until about halfway through. Which is glorious. Hint: there is no hero. Unless it’s Sydney. No. Of course it’s Sydney. And Dol, the dog that will never die. Er, never stay dead.

Look, just read it. And as soon as you’re done, read  Vengefulwhich somehow manages to be even better. These two books are what any kind of serious take on the superhero genre should be: tight, morally shaded, and utterly fucking delightful.

You’ve got a villainous antihero who controls pain, a heroic villain who cannot die, a little girl who can raise the dead, and a college co-ed whom literally no-one can say “no” to. And that’s just the first book. Check them out.

Following that, and deep in October, I picked up a freebie copy of Victor LaValle’s novella The Ballad of Black TomThis was an excellent choice, as the novella is a perfect quick-read for the Halloween season, especially for anyone who would have really liked Lovecraft a bit more if all the unimaginable horrors he wrote about weren’t just thinly veiled racism.

The eponymous Tom is a black man in 1920s New York who dabbles in the occult here and there in his work. What work? Well, mostly he seems to be a hustler. He needs that money to take care of his aged-before-his-time father. But things go seriously wrong when he stumbles into a plot to rouse a slumbering eldritch horror from its ageless rest… And then things go seriously right, at least from a certain point of view.

The ending has, perhaps, the greatest summation of Lovecraft when viewed from any perspective other than Lovecraft’s own.

Lastly this month, I finally got into Elizabeth Moon‘s Vatta’s War series with the first novel, Trading in Danger. I’ve picked it up several times in the used book store, but never pulled the trigger. I’m glad I finally did. It’s pretty much exactly what I wanted from a space opera.

There are similarities to both Weber’s Honor Harrington and Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga (the latter of which is clearly superior, sorry math nerds and Tom-Clancy-in-SPAAAACE).

Main character Kylara Vatta is a merchant captain. But she’s a lot more than that, and it’s a good thing because holy shit did she land herself and her ship in the biggest mess of trouble. She was just trying to buy some tractors to sell, and a war broke out with her right at the middle.

I’ve just gotten into the second book (last night), and I expect to have the series finished by the end of November. It starts out tightly focused, but the plot is already expanding.

That’s it for now, kids. See you soon.

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