Strange Horizons

From time to time I review books in the online science fiction & fantasy magazine Strange Horizons. I was impressed, but not in a good way, about Paul Kincaid's new study of Brian Aldiss. Kincaid: good. Aldiss: awful. I reviewed the new edition of J D Beresford's fascinating Edwardian pandemic novel A World Of Women. … Continue reading Strange Horizons

The Good Books 2021

Here are the books that I enjoyed most in 2021. You can read about those I liked best in 2020 here. Biography/memoir/autobiography/history The Element of Lavishness, Letters between Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwell was a Christmas present from 2020 that got shunted into the waiting room while I read her letters to and from … Continue reading The Good Books 2021

Liz Williams, Comet Weather

Comet Weather scooped me up and ran away with me. I was up two nights in a row reading it until I was too tired, or I'd reached the end. It's a meaty read, not a slithering skinny thing, but a proper novel, filled with delight and tension and fascinating things. I thoroughly enjoyed it, … Continue reading Liz Williams, Comet Weather

Bea Howe, A Fairy Leapt Upon My Knee

Bea Howe was Sylvia Townsend Warner's oldest friend. They met in the 1920s when Bea was 19 and Sylvia was in her middle twenties, and Sylvia spent her 84th birthday having a nice quiet day with Bea, shortly before Sylvia died in 1978. When they met is important, because Sylvia would soon publish her much … Continue reading Bea Howe, A Fairy Leapt Upon My Knee

Walter de la Mare, Memoirs of a Midget

This strange and beautiful novel was published in 1921, perfectly positioned among Stella Benson's Living Alone (1919), David Garnett's Lady Into Fox (1922) and Sylvia Townsend Warner's Lolly Willowes (1926).  All belong to the category of fantasy that allows the fantastical to live alongside the mundane, without comment or criticism, although mild resentment may be present, … Continue reading Walter de la Mare, Memoirs of a Midget

Sorrow and anger: Books I couldn’t finish or wished I hadn’t started

I don’t usually write negative reviews of books, because (1) it’s usually not fair on a writer to pillory them in public, (2) why waste the reader’s time? But sometimes writing a reasoned critical appraisal for the record can be a public service. For those searching online to find out if anyone else hated this book … Continue reading Sorrow and anger: Books I couldn’t finish or wished I hadn’t started

Greer Gilman’s Cloud and Ashes: An Interim Reading

I’ve struggled hard to get through Cloud & Ashes by Greer Gilman. I’ve already written about her seventeenth-century historical novellas starring Ben Jonson, which I consider completely brilliant. Cloud & Ashes is different, in that its setting is pre-industrial, magical and timeless, rather than in the English court of James I and VI. Its three … Continue reading Greer Gilman’s Cloud and Ashes: An Interim Reading