Greetings and felicitations!
There’s a pair of living of authors who have special places in my heart; I’d love to share my favorite works by each of them with you.
This post is a sequel of sorts to the post where I shared my favorite works by dead authors.
You may find that post, here:
“Valour and Vanity” by Mary Robinette Kowal
What if Jane Austen had written “Ocean’s 11?”
“Valour and Vanity” (V&V) answers this question, and encapsulates why this book is such a treat to read!
V&V is the fourth book in “the Glamourist Histories” (a series of five books).
The series is called “the Glamourist Histories” for a pair of reasons.
First, because this is a world where magic exists (Glamour); however, one of MRK’s rules was that the magic had to be weak-enough that it didn’t greatly impact the course of history (as you and I know it).
And the second reason for the series’ name is that these books are historical fiction; they’re all set in the Regency era.
(The first book in this series, “Shades of Milk and Honey,” owes a debt (acknowledged by MRK) to a certain book from the Regency with the initials “P&P.”)
Because this book is a caper, I feel like I can’t give you any details about it.
I can only hope that you’ll trust me enough to try it, and that you’ll adore the characters and story, too.
Oh, and while this is book four in a series, all of the books in “the Glamourist Histories” are stand-alone.
You will get more from this book by reading the three before it first; however, you may read V&V on it’s own.
(And then perhaps backtrack and read the previous titles?)
I’ve occasionally had the privilege of chatting with MRK in a small group at conventions.
These events are often called a coffee klatch (the spelling of these words varies, as it’s a German word that’s been turned into two English words).
MRK likes to go around the table and learn about everyone who has joined her.
At one of these events, I said that V&V was my favorite book in “the Glamourist Histories,” and then immediately froze-up, as I was worried that I’d said something wrong.
She replied, “Yeah, me too.”
How’s that for an endorsement?
Quite simply, V&V is a book I return to. It’s one of my happy places; with lead characters I adore (Jane and Vincent), the charismatic and enigmatic Lord Byron, an Italian setting, plans and plots that unfold like a set of magic tricks, and a betrayer in the heroes’ midst (perhaps the aforementioned Lord Byron).
I hope that (like me) you’ll fall in love with V&V.
If you’d like to learn more about V&V and MRK, here’s a URL to her page for it, and her bibliographies (at her site, and at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database):
(The page for V&V has a summary of early events in the book that setup the bulk of the novel. This summary may be considered a spoiler, but only of introductory incidents.)
“Every Heart a Doorway” by Seanan McGuire
What happens after you return from Oz, or Wonderland?
What do you with your life, and where do you go?
If you’re a child who is recovering from your adventures through a portal, and wanting to return to that other place, then you may be asked to attend “Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.”
This story is grounded by a web of characters who form bonds, antagonize, and support each other, as they try to learn who they are, what “home” means, and who the killer among them is.
There’s also a magic to SMG’s writing; she has a gift for breaking our hearts in beautiful ways.
More than once, I was smiling and crying at the same time from something said or done in “Every Heart a Doorway.”
I also had the joy of seeing fragments of myself reflected back at me, in Nancy (our point-of-view character, this time around), Jack (my favorite character in the “Wayward Children” stories), Christopher, and Kade.
In this series, every portal from our world to a different one is marked with the words “Be Sure.”
I hope you’re now Sure, and ready to enter the world of the Wayward Children.
For more background on this book and its world, here’s an interview with SMG, from shortly before “Every Hear a Doorway” was published:
“Dorothy, Alice and Wendy and Jane,
Susan and Lucy, we’re calling your names”
In 2008 (eight years before “Every Heart a Doorway” was published) SMG wrote a song called “Wicked Girls.”
SMG notes that, “When @LeeAHarris at @TorDotComPub asked me for a novella, I thought of that song, and how much I wanted to write the story that went with it, but how much I didn’t want to be locked into those unhappy endings. The story followed.”
Here’s the lyrics to “Wicked Girls” and a post from Tor.com that shares a thread where SMG explains this (and other interesting points about the “Wayward Children” books):
Referring to SMG as prolific is an understatement; she unleashes a minimum of four books a year, in addition to short stories.
Here are URLs to bibliographies at her site and at the isfdb:
(The bibliography at SMG’s site is out-of-date, and doesn’t include several of her works, as the most-recent entry listed at her site was released on May 11th, 2021, at the time of my publishing this blog post.)
Not just good writers, but good people.
Thank you for taking the time to let me share my favorites with you!
Perhaps one or both of these works, or a different work by one or both of these authors, will become a cherished read of yours?
Before we part, I also have to note that both MRK & SMG are not just good writers, but good people.
Each of them combines empathy and courage in ways that support others and connects them to us.
By reading and sharing them, we support two people who make this world a better place; both through their writings, and through sharing their genuine selves with us.
Library Girl (aka Mina)
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PPS: Just before we part, I’d like to note that these blog posts are only half of what I do as Library Girl. The other half is on Twitter. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you may still visit my twitter page and see what I’m up-to, here:
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