The Book of Lamps and Banners (Cass Neary, #4) by Elizabeth Hand

The Book of Lamps and Banners by Elizabeth Hand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Cass Neary #4 was worth the wait! In the first 50 pages it hit all my buttons for “ancient occult book thriller” and didn’t let up on the thriller for a moment. I was surprised by the challenges and unexpected changes of location Cass experienced along the way, which made for a really exciting and fresh read. I was not surprised that Cass was hitting bottom in this book, and I was rooting for her the whole time, not only to find the book but to decide to take care of instead of destroy herself. Hand uses the titular book to both introduce the is it/isn’t it supernatural element of the story and to dig out Cass’s trauma and force her to confront it and the ruin it’s wrought over decades of her life. The ending perfectly straddles that line between confronting the harsh reality of the present and being hopeful about the future.



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Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 2 – Kathe Koja (ed.)

Year's Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 2Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 2 by Kathe Koja

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I tried reading Kathe Koja’s novel Under the Poppy and couldn’t get into it, which was disappointing, since she’s billed as such a stylist. I had expected to love her work.

Although I failed to connect with that particular novel, I found my common sensibilities with Koja in this anthology, her selection of the best weird fiction from 2014. She has an ear for language that resonates with mine. I liked almost love every story in this anthology, and appreciated the gorgeous writing even if the story didn’t grab and shake me.

My standouts were K. M. Ferebee’s “The Earth and Everything Under,” Kima Jones’s “Nine,” Sunny Moraine’s “So Sharp That Blood Must Flow,” and Isabel Yap’s “A Cup of Salt Tears,” which I read upon its first publication by Tor.com, and was more than happy to revisit. I’m excited to find more work from K. M. Ferebee – I’ve been thinking about that story for weeks.

Upon further research, I seem to have read two of Koja’s short stories, in the anthologies The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest and Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: an Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, but have no distinct recollection of either story or what I thought about them, except that I enjoyed both anthologies. Both are still on my shelf, so I may revisit her stories. Then again, perhaps I should leave well enough alone; I would hate to go back and discover that I didn’t like them.

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