Fantasy Reviews

The Fiddler of Bayou Teche

by Delia Sherman

[rating:5/5]

The great thing about new original fairy tales is the way they take old motifs, old themes and older tales and remix them in a new way to create a new story. “The Fiddler of Bayou Teche” by Delia Sherman combines several motifs of trickster tales along with myths and legends featuring musical instruments. The story that unfolds is a wonderful down to earth tale surrounding a trickster fiddler set in a deep south bayou.

The main character is a young albino girl named Cadence who lives in the swamp with the woman that adopted her, Tante Eulalie. Her mother serves the local loup-garou community as a medicine woman and plays the fiddle. Her mother cautions her against tricksters by sharing with her tales of warning. When her mother passes one winter Cadence ends up getting into trouble and being confronted by the very trickster her mother warned her against. Are the warnings and tales her mother armed her with enough to help protect her and allow her to survive?

There is a podcast of this fairy tale on the website Podcastle that features a fantastic reader, Elizabeth Green Musselman, and I really recommend hearing this fairy tale orally in this way almost more than reading it. It definitely adds to the experience.

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From Far Away Volume 5

[openbook booknumber=”159116835X”] [rating:4/5]

Transported into a fantastical world of high adventure, a confused and frightened teenager discovers she holds prophetic power that will awaken a new epoch of staggering uncertainty.

But even with such infinite power, Noriko still relies on the help of her faithful companion Izark to protect her. There are enemies lurking everywhere and Noriko needs all the help she can get.

Izark, however, may be the biggest threat of all. Within him lies an evil most unimaginable. When that evil finally reveals itself, Noriko’s spontaneous reaction surprises everyone… including herself!

As if being dumped down into a completely fantastical and strange world that doesn’t speak her language or play by her rules wasn’t bad enough. Noriko faces bigger enemies in this volume and feels more powerless than ever. She can’t help her friends or fight the bad guys, all she can do is be herself. But will that prove to be enough?

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Castle of Wizardry

[openbook booknumber=”9780345335708″][rating:5/5]

It had all begun with the theft of the Orb that had so long protected the West from the evil God Torak. Before that, Garion had been a simple farm boy. Afterward, he discovered that his aunt was really the Sorceress Polgara and his grandfather was Belgarath, the Eternal Man. Then, on the long quest to recover the Orb, Garion found to his dismay that he, too, was a sorcerer.

Now, at last, the Orb was regained and the quest was nearing its end. Of course, the questors still had to escape from this crumbling enemy fortress and flee across a desert filled with Murgo soldiers searching for them, while Grolim Hierarchs strove to destroy them with dark magic. Then, somehow, they must manage to be in Riva with the Orb by Erastide. After that, however, Garion was sure that his part in these great events would be finished.

But the Prophecy still held future surprises for Garion–and for the little princess Ce’Nedra.

This continues the magnificent epic of The Belgariad, begun in Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, and Magician’s Gambit–a fantasy set against a background of the war of men, Kings, and Gods that had spanned seven thousand years–a novel of fate, strange lands, and a prophecy that must be fulfilled!

In the fourth book of the Belgariad, The Castle of Wizardry, all the set up from the series so far finally come to fruition and the stage is set for the final book. Picking up where the story left off Garion finds himself leading the small group as Belgarath is out of it after the last show down and Polgara is maintaining a shield to protect Errand. What follows is Garion not just making the journey into adult hood but also stepping up into a position of responsibility and authority. Garion finally grows up and it is wonderful to see.

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Pink Smog

[openbook booknumber=”9780061565984″][rating:4/5]

The girl in the mirror wasn’t who I wanted to be, and her life wasn’t the one I wanted to have.

Despite how much Louise insists, no one will call her Weetzie. It’s her dad’s nickname for her, but it won’t stay put. Neither will her dad. Charlie left Louise and her mom and he took everything with him: her family, her home–and her understanding of who she’s meant to be.

But Los Angeles is a city full of strange angels, and Louise embarks on a journey to sift through the smog of her heartbreak, to grow her own wings, to become Weetzie.

Making the transformation from a shy girl to a confident woman is no easy task, especially when you are growing up amidst the fading hopes of a once great Hollywood. It becomes even harder when your father leaves you for New York City, your ex-starlette mother becomes a suicidal alcoholic, and your name is Louise “Weetzie” Bat. We know Weetzie’s young adult life from the books in her Dangerous Angels series, starting with the self titled Weetzie Bat. I have given her a lot of flak in the past for the way she deals with things and her, occasionally thoughtless, outlook on life and finding happiness. I have a new appreciation for just how hard it was to make the transformation from child to woman, and manage to lead a life of hope and happiness and love in spite of her past, after reading about that difficult transition in Pink Smog.

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From Far Away Volume 4

[openbook booknumber=”1591167701″] [rating:4/5]

A prophecy of doom, passed down from generation to generation, has finally arrived. Manifest in the form of a young teenage girl named Noriko, the awakening promises a new world of frightening uncertainty.

But not everybody lives in fear of this ancient prophecy. Slowly, a group of sympathizers has come together to befriend and protect the vulnerable teenager. One of them, a valorous warrior by the name of Izark, continues to stay by her side despite the gander and complications that lie ahead.

In an attempt to avoid capture, Noriko and her band of allies travel into the White Mist Forest. Danger lurks everywhere, however… especially in this infrequently traveled wildwood!

Wow! Everything in this volume has reached new heights and I really think the series is starting to come into its own. Noriko and Izark find themselves in some pretty precarious situations after they were separated in the previous volume. What happens next was worth having in its own volume. Wow is all I can say without spoiling things, just wow.

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