Book Talk: November 2016

Wow, what a month November was! We lost Shepard Book, saw the release of the NES Classic Mini, and witnessed an event that’s going to make dystopian fiction popular for another four years. With those aside, it was quite an unusual month for me in reading terms. Since I uploaded the last Book Talk there have been two events in my hometown which have increased the size of my already bursting library. Those were: Halloween Comic-Con and Supanova. It’s at these events that I got to talk with Australian comic book creators and writers of speculative fiction. My reading for this month was more set to Australian speculative fiction due to this influx of new books.

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Image: Just some of the books and comic books I picked up at Halloween Comic-Con and Supanova

Novels

Wake by Elizabeth Knox

It took me longer than expected, but I finally finished reading Wake this month. In the end this novel had a lot of interesting things in here, but I had a lot of trouble following it. I guess it just got a little confusing in the end for me, almost as though it was trying to be much more than what it should’ve been. There was just a lot going on the end between all the characters and it felt a little too cramped for me.

What I did like about this story was how it reminded me a lot of Stephen King’s Under the Dome, only done in New Zealand. The backstory for some of the characters was interesting as well, and there are some interesting twists in this book. These alone is why I’ll recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading something different.

For more about what I thought, check out my earlier opinion here.

Vigil by Angela Slatter

Angela Slatter visited my university a couple of years ago, and I really enjoyed her blend of horror and fairy tales. It’s from this that I came to pick up Vigil, her first solo novel. Vigil is about a woman named Verity Fassbinder, a mixture of a human and a Weyrd who does what she can to keep the peace between the two races. This story is set in a fictional version of Brisbane, known more commonly in the story as Brisneyland.

As from writing this, I’m at page 263 of 351 of my edition and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it. The story and characters remind me a lot of Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us, and the combination of real life and mythological creatures is enjoyable to read. What I love most about it though is how it is all set in Australia, something that I enjoy seeing in speculative fiction. I also like how the author portrays Brisbane in this romantic sort of way, while demonising the Gold Coast, a famous holiday destination south of Brisbane.

Verity, the main character, is someone too who I find a connection with. She’s an outcast of society because of her mixed blood origins. The backstory to her life and how the other characters see her is very interesting and helps in connecting with her. I also came to dislike particular characters as well because of their style of living, or through what Verity says about them.

Even though I haven’t quite finished reading it, Vigil is a book that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. If you liked The Wolf Among Us, enjoy detective stories with a twist, or something unusual then this is a book for you.

Short Stories

Kisses with Teeth by Allan Chen

My short story reading in November wasn’t great, having only read one story, but what a story it was. My lack of reading other stories means I get to speak about this one a little more than I usually would.

Kisses with Teeth is a story from volume 73 of the Australian short story magazine Aurealis by Allan Chen. The story follows someone who has lost his normal teeth and his gained these sharp ones mysteriously, which has significantly altered his appearance.

I really enjoyed reading this story, and reminded me heavily of David Cronenberg’s 1986 film, The Fly. I liked the graphic descriptions of how this character lost his teeth and his concerns of leaving the house. I also particularly liked when his girlfriend was coming to his for a visit, the tension of what would happen when they would meet was intense. The ending too was really well done and was a great way to conclude this strange story.

If you can get your hands on Aurealis volume 73 then this story is worth a read. It’s odd, has good character development, and a well-done ending.   

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