The War on Women: Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls

Briseis of Lyrnessus is the teenage queen taken as Achilles’ trophy when his army destroys her town on their way to Troy, after he murders every male in her family—her husband, her father, her brothers, all brutally murdered in front of her. Every women is taken by the army and later distributed amongst the soldiers as spoils of war, with Briseis being given to Achilles, to whom she is expected to submit in every way. Later, there is an argument between Agamemnon and Achilles, which ends with Briseis being taken by Agamemnon as part of his winnings. Women, Pat Barker makes it clear in her new novel The Silence of the Girls, are nothing more than things men use to wield their power.

There have recently been a couple of books about Ancient Greek history written from a female point of view—Madeline Miller’s Circe, and now Barker’s The ...

Hunting a Legend: And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

In an upside down, topsy turvy yet familiar world in the depths of the ocean, a war has been raging for generations between two species who have always, it seems, hunted one another.  Bathsheba the whale is part of the formidable Captain Alexandra’s pod, part of this endless hunt. But the Captain bears a violent obsession against one particular enemy: the mighty Toby Wick, a man, a monster, a myth and quite possibly the devil himself. Wick has killed countless pods, and has never been found, but Captain Alexandra is certain that she is the one who will end him.

Patrick Ness’ new illustrated novel And the Ocean Was Our Sky is a gorgeous, richly imaginative take on Moby-Dick, with the narrative focus shifting to the perspective of whales hunting humans. “Call me Bathsheba,” begins the story, immediately echoing one of the best known opening lines in literature. ...

Unweaving a Fairy Tale: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Miryem is the daughter of small town Jewish moneylender who isn’t very good at his job. Her father, while “terrible with money,” is “endlessly warm and gentle, and tried to make up for his failings: he spent nearly all of every day out in the cold woods hunting for food and firewood, and when he was indoors where was nothing he wouldn’t do to help.” But living as they do in a tiny town, “unwalled and half nameless,” where “the cold kept creeping out of the woods earlier and earlier,” where the townspeople look down upon them as pariahs, Miryem’s family is pushed to the edge of poverty, as her father eventually lends out all his wife’s dowry and is incapable of bringing any back. While Miryem’s family are on the verge of starvation, and her mother increasingly unwell, the rest of the town fares well on their borrowed ...

Of Djinns & Things: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

A young hustler on the streets of 18th Century Cairo, Nahri lives by her wits and has always done so alone, using certain special abilities that help her get by. She can, most of the time, tell if someone is sick, or what ails them. She has “yet to come upon a language she didn’t immediately understand,” can sometimes help those who are unwell, and seems to be able to heal quickly herself. Nahri uses her strange abilities to take what she can from whom she can, trying to build up a little store of cash so she may one day train to be a real healer.

But one ordinary day, what should be a run of the mill fake exorcism ends up going horribly wrong when the young girl Nahri is pretending to help turns out to be actually possessed by a djinn—an ifrit who recognises something special in ...

Improper Magic: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones is entirely different beast than Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s last book, the narco-vampire thriller Certain Dark Things. The Beautiful Ones is a historical romance set in a world inspired by the Belle Epoque, and is a story of longing, love and loss, and what betrayal can do to drive a person to becoming fully who they are.

Antonina (Nina) arrives in Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she is to debut as a young socialite with a fortune in search of a suitable husband. Unlike the other girls of Loisail, Nina has been brought up in the country and isn’t as interested in the societal proprieties of the city as she should be, according to her far more socially elevated and beautiful cousin-in-law, with whom she is staying. Valerie was once the belle of each ball, and made a fortunate match with Nina’s well-off and well-connected cousin, and though their ...

Is It Any Wonder: Neil Jordan’s Carnivalesque

Neil Jordan’s Carnivalesque gets straight to the point: 14-year-old Andy goes to the carnival with his parents. They haven’t really been getting along, things can be stressful but everything is about average in their lives—they don’t seem to be particularly special and at this point, neither does Andy. In the Hall of Mirrors, though, something strange happens—the mirrors seem to be portals of sorts, and Andy is sucked in through them, and trapped. No one knows he’s missing, because a doppelgänger of him walks away from the mirror, joins his parents, and goes off home, leaving Andy behind in this strange new world. Andy remains stuck inside the mirror until one of the carnival’s aerialists, Mona, somehow pulls him out, names him Dany, and fairly seamlessly absorbs him into her carny family. Mona looks like a teenager, but of course in the carnival, nothing is quite what it seems, and ...

The Trouble With Being Queen: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

heartless-cover Marisa Meyer is known for her Young Adult fairy tale retellings. Her first novel was the NaNoWriMo phenomenon Cinder, the story of a cyborg sort-of Cinderella and the start of the Lunar Chronicles sequence, which includes new versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meyer’s work, however, is very loosely based on the fairy tales—she develops new worlds, brings in new characters and does not use the classic familiar plot lines. With Heartless, her first stand alone novel, Meyer takes us back to when the violent, furious Queen of Hearts was a warm, sweet young girl who wanted something more—albeit smaller, simpler and full of sugar and butter—than what was on offer for her. Catherine is just another young well to do girl with hopes and dreams. Society demands that her hopes and dreams be specifically about getting married to the wealthiest man she can, ...

Midnight in Karachi Episode 69: Sami Shah’s “Fire Boy Interlude C”

Photo Credit: Nariman Ansari Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.
This week’s episode is a reading of a story from the world of Fire Boy—an urban fantasy set in contemporary Karachi, and writer and comedian Sami Shah’s first novel. Sami’s memoir I, Migrant, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award and the Russell Prize for Humour Writing. You can find more of his writing here.
 

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 68: Naomi Alderman

karachi-alderman Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad. Zombies Run! co-creator and one of Granta’s Best of British Novelists Naomi Alderman is on the podcast this week to talk about her new novel The Power, in which women develop the ability to electrocute at will. She talks about Sultana’s Dream, whether violence is gendered, writing both games and ‘literary’ fiction, Bob Dylan and the Nobel, and that permanent question—The Patriarchy: why?  

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 67: Fran Wilde

wilde-cloudbound Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad. Andre Norton award winner and Nebula Award nominee Fran Wilde joins the podcast this week to talk about her Bone Universe novels, Updraft and Cloudbound. Both are available now from Tor Books—you can read excerpts from each novel here.  

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BoneUniverse

Sam Spade Vs Cthulhu: Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw

HammersBone_outline

< p class="p1">What does it take to hunt demons and monsters gone mad? A bigger monster, of course.

John Persons is a private investigator in modern day London. In the way of the best PIs in noir fiction, he’s caustic, bitter and jaded. But even he’s surprised when eleven year old Abel walks into his office with a loaded piggy bank and asks Persons to kill his stepfather, ‘because he’s a monster’. Though Persons a PI, not an assassin for hire, Abel is certain he’s the only man for the job, ‘because you’re a monster too’. What does Abel know about Persons that we don’t? A lot, it seems, because Persons isn’t an ordinary man, he’s something else, something older and much more frightening than man.

McKinsey, the stepfather in question, is a nasty piece of work. He, too, is more than what he seems to be, something Abel has picked up on ...

Midnight in Karachi Episode 66: Genevieve Valentine

Karachi-Valentine Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.
Genevieve Valentine—writer of Catwoman, Xena, The Girls At the Kingfisher Club, Persona, and Icon—is on the podcast this week, talking about constructed relationships, killing off characters, weaponised young women, Taylor Swift, and whether red carpet fashion is fantasy or not.
 

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Sing Your Own Special Song: Aerie by Maria Dahvana Headley

aerie Aerie picks up a year after Magonia. Aza Ray is alive, though hiding in the body of someone new, pretending to be someone else. She’s been to Magonia and back – she knows now who she is, and what she’s meant to be doing. But she’s run away from it. Maria Dahvana Headley’s follow up to Magonia is another wild ride into a fantastical alternate word in the sky, one full of adventure, intrigue, darkness and beauty. (Minor spoilers follow and can’t be helped, since this is a direct sequel.) Aza’s mother, Zal, had wanted terrible things from Aza and her betrothed Dai, songs that only they could sing together that would reign Zal’s wrath on the earth below. Aza managed to get away without any lasting damage to the earth, but she left behind a great deal of damage in Magonia. Zal wants Aza back so she ...

Midnight in Karachi Episode 65: Marie Brennan

Karachi-Brennan Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad. Author Marie Brennan is on the podcast this week, talking about dragons, amnesiacs and her new epic fantasy novella, Cold Forged Flame. Available now from Tor.com Publishing, you can read an excerpt here.  

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 64: Nisi Shawl

Shawl-Everfair Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad. This week, Mahvesh talks with writer Nisi Shawl about the Samuel Delany tribute anthology Stories for Chip, and her new alternate history novel Everfair—available now from Tor Books, you can read an excerpt here. Their discussion touches on the writers Nisi admires, and the things steampunk has the potential to be.  

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 63: Laure Eve

Karach-LaureEve Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad. Writer Laure Eve joins Mahvesh this week to talk about The Graces—available now from Amulet Books. In discussing the novel, the Laure and Mahvesh touch upon power plays between female characters, The Craft, and the ’90s.  

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Maybe it’s Witchcraft: The Graces by Laure Eve

the graces A stranger comes to a town. A young woman, her past a mystery, her present a blank slate waiting to be filled. She doesn’t have any friends, she has a strained relationship with her mother and an absentee father, but she’s quick to pick up on the most popular, most elusive trio at her high school—the Graces. Thalia, Fenrin, and Summer Grace are siblings rumoured to be witches in Laure Eve’s YA urban fantasy The Graces, set in a small coastal town that could be anyplace, anywhere and almost anytime. Our narrator is the strange new girl, who wants very much to befriend the Graces, especially Summer, and is also in love with Fenrin. She catches on to the rumours about the Graces fast—not just about those that suggest they have magical abilities that help them remain rich and powerful as a family, but also to the information that ...

Midnight in Karachi Episode 62: Indra Das

Das-Karachi Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad. Writer and editor Indra Das is on the podcast this week, talking about his novel The Devourers, which published earlier this summer from Del Rey—you can read an excerpt here. Das also discusses being rejected on the basis on being ‘too Indian’, the diversity factor, and ComicCon.  

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 62: Indra Das

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 61: Victoria Schwab

Karachi-Schwab Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad. This week Mahvesh speaks with writer Victoria Schwab on her novel This Savage Song. The pair discuss balancing life and growing as a writer, and establishing who you are to survive in the industry.  

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 61: Victoria Schwab

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 60: Malka Older

MalkaOlder-Infomocracy Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.
Malka Older joins the podcast this week to talk about her novel Infomacracy, experiencing new cultures, and the state of politics. Infomocracy is available now from Tor.com Publishing—get started with the first five chapters here on Tor.com.
 

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 60: Malka Older

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