Quick Review: SIREN QUEEN by Nghi Vo (Tor.com)

VoN-SirenQueenThe magic and horror of movie-making…

It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic.

“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill — but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes — even if that means becoming the monster herself.

Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page.

“The magic of movie-making”: we’ve all heard people say and write things about Hollywood that sprinkle stardust and the otherworldly metaphors onto filmmaking. In Siren Queen, Nghi Vo asks readers to consider what if it wasn’t actually metaphorical? A clever novel that follows the career of screen star Luli Wei, I enjoyed this. Continue reading

New Books (November-December)

NewBooks-20211218

Another bumper crop of interesting titles — many of which are due out in May 2022, which is shaping up to be a very good-looking book month! Any of these catch your attention, or already on your most-anticipated lists?

Featuring: Daniel Abraham, Samit Basu, Brian Baumgartner, Holly Black, Mike Brooks, Louise Candlish, Dave Eggers, John M. Ford, Max Gladstone, Garrett M. Graff, David Guterson, Saad Z. Hossain, Liska Jacobs, Catherine McKenzie, Leila Mottley, Chris Pavone, Christopher Rowe, John Scalzi, Peng Shepherd, Tara Sim, Matthew Specktor, Nghi Vo, Don Winslow, Olivia Yallop

Continue reading

New Books (July-August)

NewBooks-20200815

Featuring: Kurt Andersen, Nicholas Bowling, Craig Brown, Gregory Brown, Bridget Collins, S.A. Cosby, Nicola DeRobertis-Theye, Will Ferguson, Victoria Gosling, Guy Haley, Elizabeth Hand, Anthony Horowitz, Clifford Jackman, R.F. Kuang, Byron Lane, Ellery Lloyd, Melissa Maerz, Una Mannion, David Mitchell, Sylvain Neuvel, Nnedi Okorafor, Kristina Pérez, David Polfeldt, C.L. Polk, Andrzej Sapkowski, Ginger Smith, K.M. Szpara, Nghi Vo, Chris Wraight

Continue reading

New Books: December-January (2019-20)

NewBooks-20200109

After a quieter end to 2019, the start of 2020 was met with a blizzard of new ARCs and DRCs. Some of these aren’t out for some time (May, June, and even August!), but I wanted to get a mention of the books up on the site ASAP, so people have an idea of what’s on the way — and many of these look fantastic!

Featuring: Megan Angelo, Andy Clark, Bill Clegg, Karen Dietrich, Doug Engstrom, Lee Goldberg, Ilze Hugo, Gregg Hurwitz, Alex Irvine, Hao Jingfang, Stephen Graham Jones, Erica Katz, Nick Kyme, Mark Lawrence, Eddie Robson, Lewis Shiner, JC Stearns, Paul Tremblay, Emma Jane Unsworth, Nghi Vo, David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Continue reading

Quick Review: THE EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE by Nghi Vo (Tor.com)

VoN-SH1-EmpressOfSaltAndFortuneA short, engaging novella about imperialism and exclusion

A young royal from the far north, is sent south for a political marriage in an empire reminiscent of imperial China. Her brothers are dead, her armies and their war mammoths long defeated and caged behind their borders. Alone and sometimes reviled, she must choose her allies carefully.

Rabbit, a handmaiden, sold by her parents to the palace for the lack of five baskets of dye, befriends the emperor’s lonely new wife and gets more than she bargained for.

At once feminist high fantasy and an indictment of monarchy, this evocative debut follows the rise of the empress In-yo, who has few resources and fewer friends. She’s a northern daughter in a mage-made summer exile, but she will bend history to her will and bring down her enemies, piece by piece.

In this short novella, Vo introduces us to a handful of interesting and engaging characters, as one regales another with a story of imperialism and oppression. As the synopsis states, the world depicted is akin to imperial China, and the author has a gift for writing evocative, albeit-brief description. After meeting Rabbit, the emperor’s wife’s handmaid, Cleric Chih learns Empress In-yo’s story. Through this, we glean the larger picture of not only In-yo’s life, but also the world and culture in which all of the characters exists. Continue reading