lunes, 30 de enero de 2017

Reviews of novellas by Kai Ashante Wilson and Paul Cornell


(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)

Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to A Taste of Honey, by Chet Atkins (Spotify, YouTube).

It has been much longer that I intended since I last reviewed a batch of novellas published by Tor.com. In fact, in the past few weeks I've been devoted to closing up my 2016 reading and I confess that I still need to catch up with what Tor.com has released in 2017. But, in the meantime, I want to, at least, write down my impressions of three works that I (mostly) read in November and December: A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson, and Witches of Lychford and The Lost of Lychford, both by Paul Cornell. 

A Taste of Honey has been highly praised and I am sure it will be included in many awards shortlists in 2017. However, I am afraid that I have to give a "minority report" on this one. In fact, I was unable to finish reading it and I quit after I was roughly a quarter in. One important problem I found was that I didn't connect with the characters at all, and neither the worldbuilding nor the plot were of interest to me.

However, my principal issue with A Taste of Honey was that I quite disliked Wilson's style and tone. I know, I know, I'm probably alone on this one, for his prose is one the elements of his writing that people praise the most, but I just couldn't get into. And, to tell the truth, this problem is not new to me. I had tried listening to the audiobook version of The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps some months ago and I was also unable to finish it. So, I am afraid I can't recommend this novella. You must take my opinion with a (big) grain of salt, though, for most people seem to love Wilson's work and, thus, you mileage will very likely vary. 

My experience with Paul Cornell's Lychford novellas was much more satisfactory. I read Witches of Lychford around Halloween last year (a really adequate moment!) and I liked it so much that, shortly after, I was starting The Lost Child of Lychford, breaking my golden rule of (almost) never reading two works by the same author in a short period of time. 

These Lychford stories are an amazing combination of urban fantasy and comedy, a mixture that I didn't know could work so well. And it all mostly comes down to the marvellous trio of protagonists that Cornell has given life to. They are completely disparate and, to be completely honest, they are not very good witches (one of them doesn't even believe in magic!). But the chemistry among them is just incredible despite (or, possibly, because of) their blatant differences in personality, attitude and experience.

In fact, I did like The Lost Child of Lychford even better than Witches of Lychford. Once that the three women know each other and begin working as a team, the full potential of the world imagined by Cornell develops and explodes. The plot is tighter and more interesting and, what is even better, this story plants the seeds for many new adventures to come, something that I am already looking forward to, For all these reasons, I chose The Lost Child of Lychford as one of my favourite 2016 novellas.

All in all, I heartily recommend the Lychford series by Paul Cornell, a fun urban fantasy saga with three fascinating protagonists. Regarding A Taste of Honey I honestly don't know what to say. I didn't find it to my taste (no pun intended), but it may very well be just a particular quirk of mine. Anyhow, Tor.com keeps offering a varied and appealing range of novellas and I will keep reading them and informing you about my findings.

(You can also read this review in Spanish/También puedes leer esta reseña en español)          

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