A Review of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

Jane Austen Dreams of Harry Potter and Writes 1000+ pages.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna ClarkeJonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was Time Magazine #1 Book of the Year, Winner of the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award, as well as making about a dozen top fiction lists in 2004, the year it came out. In short, it is one of the most respected works of the literary fantastic to come out of Britain in recent years. With a pedigree like that, of course I had to read it.

This novel centers around two English magicians in the early 1800s, who spearhead the reemergence of practical (as distinguished from theoretical) magic. In this alternate history, magic was once a common and accepted practice in England.

Its greatest practitioner was a mysterious figure, known variously as John Uskglass, the Raven King, the Black King, the King of the North, and a faery name, which no one could pronounce. According to legend, Uskglass was stolen as a child and raised in Faery, where he learned the skills that made him a magician of unparalleled skills (and possibly, a demi-god), before returning to rule England for many years. Read more »

A Review of The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier

The Illumination by Kevin BrockmeierThe Illumination is a literary novel with only one fantastic element, but it’s a doozy: one day, inexplicably, the bodily pain of each and every human being on earth begins to manifest as a white light. Everything from a headache to leukemia shines out of the body like a beacon for all to see.

The story follows a sequence of people who come into possession of a journal of love notes, transcribed by a woman named Patricia, from the notes her husband left her on the fridge every day of their marriage. She and her husband get in a car wreck just before the phenomenon called the Illumination begins. Thinking that her husband is dead, grieving and fatally injured, Patricia gives the journal to her hospital roommate, Carol Ann. Read more »

A Review of Freaks’ Amour, by Tom De Haven

Mutants on the Outside, Looking In

Freaks' Amour, by Tom De HavenHardcore. That’s the word that comes to mind. But not just because Freaks’ Amour refers to a XXX rated show where Normals go to watch mutant men rape their wives and girlfriends (and for a finale the Normals pelt them with rotten fruit). The sex scenes are not particularly graphic, and they don’t need to be. The idea itself is hardcore enough… and that’s just the beginning.

This powerful novel takes place in a world where a small nuclear explosion in Jersey City has created a race of mutants with a wide variety of bizarre attributes: fur, gills, bird claws, misshapen skulls and limbs. Animals, too, mutated, including giant gold fish that produced tiny, hard-shelled eggs…Death Eggs, so named because they seemingly kill anyone who consumes them. Read more »