A couple fine creators I discovered at my local library/bookstore (photo taken from Pixabay).
For those who enjoy reading, sometimes there's bit of magic that happens, when a particular author's style consistently sticks with you and you want to consume everything they write. It transcends the connection between a reader and a book, to a fragile trust between you and total stranger. The more stories you take in by them, the stronger that strange bond grows. Today, I wanted to share a couple of people whose work affected me in that way.
I first stumbled across Ms. Marillier's work when I was fourteen in my high school library. There was a reading challenge going on at my school. The more you read that semester, the more points you got. Her debut, Daughter of the Forest, seemed like another favorite book of mine in that it had fairy tale elements and a medieval setting. Sure, it didn't have unicorns or dragons, it was based more on a fantasized version of Ireland's history with its native folklore as the backdrop. I gave it a try, and fell in love. I had this habit of dog-earing my favorite scenes in a book so I could go back and reread them later (yes, even to library books). The corners of half the pages were folded down. The story was sweeping but intimate, beautiful and heart wrenching, grounded with an authenticity that made me believe it was real for a few blissful hours.
I hunted down the other books in the Sevenwaters Series to find they had the same amazing effect. Her standalone, Heart's Blood, spins an unconventional take on Beauty and the Beast with a family curse set during a period when the Normans were getting set to invade Ireland. Her Bridei Chronicles show her take on the mysterious Pictish civilization of ancient Scotland and shows the difficult decisions a good king and those under him had to make to hold power while holding true to their hearts. All of her stuff is full of strong women who don't come off as uncharacteristic of the old periods she writes in. Even her forays into epic fantasy, her Shadowfell Series, where the world is entirely her own, has this rooted believably. I can't wait for her new series to come out, about a group of warrior bards!
I didn't see Ms. Carriger's book coming. I was browsing through Border's Books and Music at the time (the one Summer I worked there and the last it was open), and came across the cover of Soulless. Normally, I'm not into vampire novels, or steampunk, or even the Victorian period. The book was more paranormal/pseudo sci-fi than fantasy and had absolutely no magic in it. By all logic, it defied my well established tastes. I read the description anyways, and giggled enough to open the first page. Then I opened that and laughed, guffawed, and was pulled into a Jane Austen-esque romance with a mystery and an alternative history and banter and it had four more books that broke my heart and sewed it up again and... Yeah, she catches you with smart humor and the characters and the story and the sheer worldbuilding dig their claws in and won't let go.
Despite the rampant run-on sentences, this quality is in everything else I've read of hers. And most of it is connected! Her YA Finishing School series, that chronologically takes place before the Parasol Protectorate (Soulless' series), is about a floating boarding school where ladies of quality learn to be spies and assassins while navigating their society's strict norms. Her latest series, the Custard Protocol, takes place after the Parasol Protectorate, following the fresh faced crew of the Spotted Custard dirigible on their adventures across the British Empire. Ms. Carriger also has wonderful spinoff novellas that act as standalones and can be read separate of the rest of her work (though they compliment them wonderfully). My favorite of those is Romancing the Inventor, about a country woman who joins the staff of a house of vampires as a maid so she can find a place for herself, and finds so much more in the lady inventor they keep.
Every few years I like to revisit my old favorites from both of these women and binge them over a month like Netflix. When a new release comes out by them, I squee and save my pennies to buy it (and it's often the first thing on my Christmas List). That's the beauty of reading, discovering more of these creators whose work is to inspire and entertain. Books aren't the only medium either. Some notable examples for film and screen are Joss Whedon and Studio Ghibli. If you like reading, watching, viewing anything, who are your favorites?
Brie Tart writes fantasies in which she draws the mythical from the mundane. She spends the rest of her time dabbling in languages and prepping for her next adventure.