Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher is a young-adult-ish or maybe middle-reader book about a minor mage, a fair amount of murder and gristly stuff, and a sarcastic armadillo.
I love it.
The author is worried it is not a children’s book but it’s exactly the kind of horror fantasy I devoured and tried to write in my preteen years. And I turned out all right as far as I can tell.
Plus cloud sheep.
Worth the read.
Caleb is a young black boy without a mother who lives on the edge of the swamp in the town of Lewis, down by the Bayou. When he is a boy, he discovers his neighbor’s house on fire and helps to save the girl who set the fire.
It turns out that all is not well in the town of Lewis.
Cere was born to destroy the world. Her father, a sorcerer and erstwhile preacher, was bound and determine to murder a man/spirit/creature/monster named Catfish John. The best way to destroy something bigger than the world was to destroy the world, Archie Royce figured, so according to his daughter he shaped her to do the job.
She was not as keen on it as Archie may have hoped.
In the beginning of the book, Caleb was a boy, trying to piece together truth and fiction, and the definition a monster.
By the end of the book, he has taken his father’s place as Sheriff of Lewis, just in time for the horrors of his childhood, and Cere, to return.
At 110 pages, Catfish Lullaby is a terrorized run through the swamps and out the other side of humanity, where we can see who the monsters are and what they leave behind when their good intentions get twisted by their mission. The world building is strong enough to smell the swamp water without getting bogged down (sorry) in environment. The story is satisfying and solid, and leaves me wanting to hear more about Caleb’s co-worker Rose’s war stories in a future publication.
Catfish Lullaby is available now on the publisher’s site or you can preorder it on Amazon for a September release.
It’s yes, I should write an eligibility post season again.
Short stories published in 2018
“The Ground Shifted”, published by Dreaming Robot Press in Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide Volume 5. Each year the publishers collect science fiction stories appropriate to middle-grade readers regarding exploring. They emphasize diversity in characters and situations.
“You know about this?” Rosetta replied. “It’s a half a cat.”
“Well, technically it’s a holographic presentation of half a cat. The house’s AI sends her in when there’s something it can’t do and needs the inhabitants to take over.” Auntie replied. “I wonder if the ventilation system is clogged again.”
“WHY IS IT ONLY HALF A CAT?” Rosetta stabbed into the keyboard.
“You’ve only got a half a house, so she’s only half a cat,” Auntie replied.
Poetry published in 2018
“Food Shopping”, published by Lycan Valley Press in Darkling’s Beasts and Brews: Poetry with a Drink on the Side.
The parking lot’s dimples retained last night’s storm
each wheel well shimmering with rainbows
when the Cadillac rolled in, heavy.
You threw open the door and clambered out.
First sandals, then navy blue cotton pants
festooned with smiling crescent moons
then a linen shirt,
puffy sleeves stained with potions and charms
a beard that covered eyelet and drawstring close at the collar
A practiced motion tucked the point on the hat of a wizard point under the door frame
You were muttering even before you had the door closed.
If you’re more of the User Experience or Design wonk, you may be interested in my list of posts on The Interconnected, where I’ve published numerous articles on UX, Design, and being a human in the internet age.
You might remember that last year, my story “The Smell of Home,” about an old dog who turned out to be more than he seemed, was published in the 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide.
This year, my story “The Ground Shifted”, about a teen with a vestibular disorder discovering the source of her problems, was accepted for publishing in the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide Volume 5.
The Young Explorers Adventure Guide series is middle-grade/young adult science fiction aimed to represent a diverse range of characters and situations. I’ve enjoyed writing for it, and as far as I know all the kids who’ve read it have enjoyed reading from it.
The kickstarter for this year’s volume launched recently and you can preorder/pledge for a copy now.
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The Kickstarter for the 2018 Young Explorer Adventures Guide is just over halfway funded to its goal. My story, “The Smell of Home” is in it, so if you’d like to read it and a whole ton of other great YA fiction about exploration, go give it a pledge.
One of the things I like about this particular Kickstarter is the number of tiers specifically dedicated to donating copies of the anthology to libraries. The goal is to give kids works that they can see themselves in, and I think we’ve got a great anthology to do just that.