I don’t usually like writing book reviews. Not because I can’t think of anything to say, or the book wasn’t good. It’s simply because my memory isn’t trained for them. It’s very rare for me to find a book whose characters stay in my memory for longer than a day or so after reading. When I do, I tend to buy them, put them on my bookshelf, and reread them forever and ever after, amen.
I read quickly – a skill I trained at school, when I would get through three or four books in a day. Editing; I’ve had to slow down, learn to savour the words, plot and characters. When I read a book to review it, I tend to revert back to school days, reading quickly to avoid picking up edits that have the potential to throw me out of the story. I also have to make sure I have the time to review them immediately after reading them, because otherwise the details are lost to the black abyss that is my memory bank.
These books were different. John very kindly sent me review copies* of his two novellas, after I raved incessantly about his writing style based on the snippets he posted on his Twitter account and this Musae Mosaic interview. From the moment I started reading, I knew that reviewing them would be difficult.
I picked up on the missed edits. I thought, “I should mention that to him,” and then the story sucked me right back in and it didn’t matter that there were a few errors. Nothing mattered but the story, the characters and reaching the end.
Crane. Wife: A Cyberpunk Tale
A wounded hero and his dreamer.
In 2187 the US is a dusty, fractured mirror. The California Federation lives on the remains of the old world.
Since Kadence’s injury, his wife is all he needs and Amias treasures her wounded soldier. For the young couple, what little they have is precious, but desires make them reach higher. He dreams of a proper wedding ring, and providing all she’d ever want. She dreams of cybernetic wings and soaring the endless blue.
Hunger and risk can take a vicious toll. When a gamble ends in a hard goodbye, the unthinkable becomes daily life and those left behind must either rise and fly.
Or linger in the wreckage.
I don’t have much experience reading in the cyberpunk genre. From my brief forays into it, it tends to be a bit dark, nitty gritty and dystopian. Crane. Wife fits those descriptions. It’s also beautiful, written in a style that pulls you in and refuses to let go. Amias is a strong; though tortured, woman, and the relationships she has with Kadence; her husband, and Opie; a disfigured soldier, are real and powerful.
I’m trying really hard not to give spoilers away because part of the magic that drew me in, was how the author weaves the story in such a way that when it ends, you know you should have seen that coming, but somehow you didn’t.
There are aspects of the story that have untapped potential – but these were based more on my personal curiosity about the history of the world the story is set in, and the characters that live in it, rather than the story needing more depth. It has plenty of depth, and played with my emotions as though I was a violin in the hands of a maestro.
The poignant ending of Crane. Wife had me in tears, deeply satisfied with the way the story ended, and hopeful of more to come, as I believe there will be sequels!
In another world, a ship sinks above an ancient reef. Beneath the icy waves, among scores of drowning sailors, she was born.
Caldyr Prayers is a mostly normal fairy, but a not-so-normal detective, especially for Stockton, California. She’s looking to make a name for herself and build a real life; a proper legacy as the World’s foremost fairy private eye. She’s just gotta get off the ground with her wings tied behind her back (to keep her fairyhood secret from the humans.) All she needs is a chance…
And in walks Reynardine Slybold—the Dread Fox. God, trickster, seducer, petty thief, and chaos in a lurid suit. But he just might have a legitimate case for Caldyr. He’s giving up his divinity and needs her to find a solution to his oldest feud. If she can solve the Fox’s problems, and keep them alive, the fairy could make a few much needed bucks… maybe even a name for herself.
This novella is everything I love about contemporary fantasy mixed with a good old detective story. The main character is a badass fairy detective; strong and independent and slightly cynical as all good detectives generally are. Offsetting Caldyr is Reynardine the Fox – a smart-talking Myth who became a god, and now wants to be mortal again.
The worlds they move between, from modern-day America, to Lumin and Elledgya, are beautifully woven into the action, which involves a lot of quick-thinking, fast talking and brilliant story-telling.
It’s not often I find a fantasy novella that develops its characters as wonderfully as John has in this book. Throw in a mix of different pantheons and mythologies, a love story that spans centuries, and characters who aren’t perfect but are better for it, and the Glass Fate series is one that I will be following for as long as the author keeps writing them.
You can visit John Cordial at his website for more about the author, his books, and best of all: snippets of his writing!
*I’ll be purchasing copies of his books as soon as I can, because even though he sent me the review copies, I believe in supporting writers who are trying to make a career out of their hard work.
I need someone to fan-girl with, so if you’ve read either of these stories, get in touch! If you haven’t –get them here – and then get in touch!