Each week, our crack staff shares their current reading choices…

I was poking on my tablet and decided that a re-read of Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher was in order. This is a novella-length retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a new take on both “Beauty,” who she clearly is not, and the reasons for the Beast and the enchanted house.

Bryony is a self-aware, practical character with almost no verbal filter. She has the most abominable sense of humor and an amusing grasp of the absurd. I love laughing at her too-weirded-out-to-freak-out calm and her genuine responses to both the awful and the incomprehensible.

It’s not a perfect story, but it is a satisfying re-telling with unique new twists. The writing style is straightforward, providing contrast with the overwrought poetry that starts haunting the story. In a clever bit of resolution, Kingfisher uses Bryony’s sister to point out how unclever Bryony was in trying to solve the mystery of the enchantment, which both builds up that character and takes away a major criticism of the story.

This story is light, quick, and satisfying. It’s also only available as an ebook.

Colleen Reed, Contributing Writer
Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher
Fantasy | Independent | 2015

I am reading Feedback by Mira Grant; it was just released today and I am already a good quarter of the way through. Similar to Ender’s Shadow, the companion novel to Orson Scott Card’s classic Ender’s Game that tells the same story from a different perspective, in this fourth entry in Grant’s post-zombie apocalypse saga, instead of being inside the head of plucky reporter George, we meet the very feisty Ash, an Irish expatriate from a rival news service. There are several short stories and novellas set in the Feed world, none of them George’s, so I never had any doubt that Grant could pull off a different voice to lament the end of the world as they once knew it. What I was slightly nervous about was retreading old ground — could I possibly care as much about those dystopia-shaking events the second time around? I needn’t have worried. For a start, this is definitely a different story as much as it is the same. And secondly, this particular zombified alternate history still dwells as lovingly on the science of infection and pandemic as much as the earlier books, and I really enjoy Grant’s ability to make repeated lectures in biology and chemistry somehow enthralling, every damn time.

I am also reading the space operatic Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell, as recommended by our own Colleen Reed last week. So far: YES.

Rachel Hyland, Editor-in-Chief
Feedback (Feed #4) by Mira Grant
Zombie Apocalypse | Orbit | 2016

I just finished The White Spell by Lynn Kurland, which was released today, in which a handsome, somewhat troubled prince and a downtrodden young woman of uncertain pedigree investigate a dire threat to the Nine Kingdoms. If this sounds familiar, it should — it’s the template from which all the Nine Kingdoms stories are struck. And in fact, this book demonstrates all of Kurland’s usual issues — “What’s that dangerous-looking thing over there?” “I know, but I can’t tell you.” “Oh, okay.” Wait, WHAT? But in Acair, her evil mage thrown kicking and screaming on the path to redemption — Kurland has created a memorable, snarky, hilarious hero. It’s worth reading the book just for him.

Kate Nagy, Editor at Large
The White Spell (Nine Kingdoms #10) by Lynn Kurland
Fantasy | Berkley | 2016


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  • Darth Sara

    I had to give up on Lynn Kurland. Similar plots, good characterization but the characters blend together after awhile, same plot. It’s better now that she’s in fantasy at least instead of romance because she’s PG, but I wish she would stretch herself a bit, she’s a good writer.