Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher

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.

The Twisted Ones, by T. Kingfisher

I read while I’m on the exercise bike because hey, a reason to be on the exercise bike. The last few days I’ve been reading The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher (pen name for Ursula Vernon).

Tonight I biked for 80 minutes and realized my legs would fall off before I’d finish the book. As I’d reached a point where not-finishing was not an option, I kept reading after removing myself from the bike.

I think my heart raced just as much after I got off the book as when I was on it.

Everything in T. Kingfisher’s books tends to be very logical… I find myself thinking “oh well of course”, and also “oh holy shit how did I not see that coming, of course that’s made of that other thing because why else would you have one of those?” and I’m telling you, if you like your horror to be made of bits and pieces of Chekov’s Gun running around with murder on its mind, this book is for you.

A few things I’d heard about the book that are true:
* Deer are not as safe an animal as you thought
* The dog is established to live through the whole book from the very beginning so there’s no wondering
* It is apparently possible to write a jump scare.

The dialog is fantastic. The characterizations are amazing. The world building is enough to make you grit your teeth and bike for 80 minutes without realizing you’d been on the bike 80 minutes. Thank heavens I didn’t have a dog asking to go out or there’d be a puddle on the floor.

I’m not sure when or if I’ll sleep again, and I’ve never been so glad to be living in the exurbs instead of the rural neighborhood of my parents.

Anyway, read. Then keep locked in the closet the rest of the time. That might work.

Catfish Lullaby by AC Wise

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.