And you can bet this one was important to me, because seriously, The Book Smugglers is the single review site I check almost every day. Thea’s taste is very close to mine, and when Ana gives a book I wouldn’t ordinary notice a nine or ten and I pick up a copy, well, I’m always glad to have stepped outside my normal preferences. (Ana reads a lot more contemporary YA than I do, for example, and was responsible for my reading THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, one of my favorite books from last year.)
Anyway! Thea’s review is here. I’m very pleased by her rating of “8”, because she sure calls ’em as she sees ’em.
I also have a guest post up at The Book Smugglers, here.
It’s connected to a giveaway, so if you happen to want a second copy of HOUSE OF SHADOWS, go right ahead and enter. There’s a quiz question attached, so whether you enter the giveaway or not, I’d like to know:
Given two books that you expect to be about equally good, perhaps even two books by the same author, which would you reach for first: a novel with a familiar medieval-European type of setting, or one set somewhere more exotic, such as an alternate China or Ottoman Turkey or Africa or someplace?
I’m really interested to know how people answer this question! Please leave a comment here if you don’t enter The Book Smuggler’s giveaway.
5 thoughts on “Another review —”
I would definitely pick up the exotic setting book first. I’ve actually been looking for books with non-European type settings lately (inspired by some of your reviews, I think!), and they’re kind of hard to find.
Assuming both books look equally interesting from the ‘page 117’ test and jacket copy, etc., I’d probably start with the less common setting. Now, some settings are more likely to interest me than others: While I have enjoyed some books set in Byzantine settings, an awful lot turn out to be unlikeably swampy in the decadence department. Northern set books, flavored by the sagas, and legends, are more likely to be a draw. For example, I seem to be an outlier in prefering GGK’s LAST LIGHT OF THE SUN to the Byzantine books. Not that I don’t enjoy them, but something about the Northern setting works better for me. So, WHICH exotic setting is offered would make a difference to my choice.
I tend to agree with Elaine. It seems the medieval Europe setting appears to be the venue of choice for a lot of new authors. Mages, dragons, knights and castles, et al. While I do enjoy this, it is nice sometimes to get to read something a tad more dark and mysterious. Case in mind, A Walk Across The Sun. This book was chilling, and set in India. I don’t know if it was the best book that I have read, but, it was different. And sometimes, difference makes up for any lack in writing skills ( or maybe not ) Anyways, my vote goes for a more exotic setting. And thats my two cents worth.
I’m more likely to reach for the book with the unusual setting. I’m pretty tired of the faux-medieval Europe default setting (though much more interested if it’s a SPECIFIC medieval Europe, like the 13th century Brittany in Gillian Bradshaw’s WOLF HUNT, or the alternate Spain in THE CURSE OF CHALION, or 1920s Ireland in THE SCORPIO RACES). Most of the books that I’ve really adored lately have been inspired by or set in a more diverse setting, like alternate Tang China in Guy Gavriel Kay’s UNDER HEAVEN, or alternate ancient Egypt in N.K. Jemisin’s Dreamblood duology. I guess this is to say that really good worldbuilding will get me no matter where it’s set–but if it’s somewhere I haven’t read about before, I’m much more interested to begin with.
Just a small addition – I once finally picked up a book I’d been considering after I flipped through it and noticed the characters were passing through redwood trees. This signaled that the setting wasn’t bog-standard faux Europe (which was even more common back then than it is now), so I gave it a chance, and liked it a lot. It turned out to be ahead of its time ‘climate change hard fantasy’ with roots in the Kalevala. THE ANVIL OF THE ICE by Michael Scott Rohan.