- artist: clayton cowles,
- artist: jamie mckelvie,
- artist: matt wilson,
- author: kieron gillen,
- author: seanan mcguire,
- author: zen cho,
- category: science fiction/fantasy,
- category: sequential art: comics,
- genre: fairy tales,
- genre: fantasy,
- genre: urban fantasy,
- projects: let's get literate!,
- reviews: books,
- reviews: comics
- The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, & Clayton Cowles — Seriously, this art.
- An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire — Ehhhh.
- Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho — Y-Yes? Yes!
I did it! I finally read The Wicked + The Divine, after weeks of certain people screeching at me to try it.
AND EVERYONE WAS RIGHT. It's pretty great.
Now, probably I would be getting more out of it as a story if I cared more about celebrity culture and/or mythology, but unfortunately I don't. I honestly have never heard of most of these gods. HILARIOUS FACT: I recognized Amaterasu from the video game Okami and some of them I only had a clue once the comic explained them, even though it felt like the story expected me to know them already. This was, now that I think of it, probably intentional. You're meant to feel like an outsider unless you're a fan.
(I am not a Big Fan of Lucifer, for example. She is SO GREAT.)
The characters are fascinating, but I find the world-building pretty lightly done. If you read the premise of the comic, that's largely it, with a bonus murder mystery at the center. What really got me about this comic was the fantastic art by Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles, and the really excellent writing of some very emotionally intense scenes. The art only seeks to render these even more desperate. Even if I'm not particularly sold on the overall premise of gods as pop stars (is it a worship thing??) and want to know more about the magic involved in their cycle of rebirth before I go full on fangirl for the comic, I'm super into the character work being done between the art and writing.
It's not often that I find panels with no dialogue so emotionally affecting as I do here, and it's very rare that the emotional distance between the main characters and the reader makes me like those characters more. That emotional distance is part of why I found the world building so sparse, but it's also one of the most meta things about the whole endeavor and a comment on the celebrity analysis of the premise. We see so much of this through Laura's perspective — Laura the fan who wants to become a god, even though it means she'll die — and so have to confront the emotional distance of young people/gods who only have a short time to live and experience the world for themselves. There's probably so much to be examined with this comic as it pertains to celebrity culture, but I don't know enough about celebrity culture to critique it. It's worth checking out just for the art, though. It's so pretty.
I love Laura, too. She's rad. Tons of her panels are basically me on Twitter saying nothing but #GPOY.
Because I got excited about certain Jacket Related Developments in A Local Habitation (sorry, Jodie), I immediately gobbled up An Artificial Night. I am glad that this was third, because if it had been the second book I might not have continued the series because I am a fickle creature who has the exact opposite preferences of 97% of the world. I mean, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is still my favorite of the whole HP series, and I'm not sorry! I WALK A SPECIAL PATH. So I liked A Local Habitation and its plot a whole bunch, but found the plot in An Artifical Night, with its emphasis on faerie magic and the faerie world, a little harder to get into. This whole book is Tony traveling to Blind Michael's realm to rescue stolen children, and I guess I just wasn't into the mystical travel, Blind Michael as a villain, the constant back and forth over CERTAIN DEATH, and wanted about 100% more of everything else (Tybalt! Luna! The Luidaeg!). There's a lot of little clues and hints dropped about Tony's past, her family, and also someone planted ideas in my head about Quentin and Raj (thanks a lot), so I was extremely thankful for those. Benefits of long series: you can miss connecting with individual stories and still love the overarching plot that's being built, which I do very much! Ah, family drama approaches, I can sense it.
I have other things to read before I move on to the next book (also Jodie might stomp me for skipping ahead of her AGAIN) but oh yeah, here I come, book four!
And then I finally got my paws on Sorcerer to the Crown after months and months of waiting. The first time I heard about this book, I pinged on "familiars" and "freed slave as the most important figure among a bunch of stuffy white dudes" and "powerful lady" and needed to read it IMMEDIATELY. Who wouldn't get excited about the prospect of a society of white dudes getting shown what for by a black man and a lady, who has tons of power? I mean, MRAs, sure, but we don't count them. SO: NO ONE WHO COUNTS.
But I'm afraid that the time has come to be honest with myself about books of this type, that use this kind of narrative and writing to tell their story: I am bored to tears by it. I have trouble parsing it! I shamefully did not grow up reading charmingly verbose British fiction. I used to like it, but in books meant for like, eight year olds because there was a little ease on how loquacious the writing itself could get? Not that contemporary middle grade is too easy! Anyway, now I'm gonna get hate mail about insulting the intelligence of people who read Austen at eight and did just fine, thanks so much Renay. I'm sorry in advance.
Anyway, the writing is intensely British in a way I wasn't expecting. I'm so pathetically American that more times than I can count while I read this story I had to stop, flip back, sometimes whole chapters, and re-read everything all over again to figure out what was happening and what certain characters were saying.
It was worth the effort, though. It's a lovely, amiable story full of (dare I say it and risk getting swiped by the Buzzword fairy? YES I'M DOING IT) enchanting, charismatic characters. The subtle, awkward romance and multiple interpersonal mysteries kept me guessing until the end. The novel grew stronger as it went, and the book gave Prunella and Zacharias more leeway to be fabulous at what they do. I'm going to get overly sentimental and profess that it felt more magical as a story the more magical Prunella was allowed to be without restriction, and that maybe for me the stuffy nature of the narrative at the beginning was because the novel was mirroring the state of magic in Britain. Which, if true, was a clever trick! It just may have worked on me a little too well for the first half of the book.
I was also very impressed by a use of faerie that intrigued me from the beginning to end, which is very hard to do because sometimes so much of stories about faerie are just not my thing even though I really want them to be (never give up! NEVER SURRENDER!!). I'm still not quite 100% on some of the plot resolution, but I'm putting that down to my ability to really understand some of the dialogue. Mak Genggang — such a wonderful character, I want her to have her own book! — was the character at the end to lose me the most. But so many delightful supporting characters! I even liked the surly villains.
Also, I did not see one of the sorcerer/familiar relationships coming at all. It's fine, book! I needed another ship or two! Thanks a lot.
Anyway, I am sorry to have failed fandom which loves this book immensely. I've banished myself to Party Poop Island. I haven't heard very many critiques of it at all; it's been effusive praise from every quarter. Of course, I haven't actually looked that hard at all the quarters since I find reading Amazon reviews a particularly terrible form of self-abuse, but my Twitter timeline, which has great taste, wouldn't steer anyone wrong deliberately!. But yes, I would recommend this heartily to people who like Regency fiction (I don't know what else to call this, am I even using the right term, I am SO AMERICAN I'm sorry) with a dose of magic. It's incredible what new perspectives can do with stuffy British societies.
brb immediately adding Spirits Abroad to reading list