February 16, 2022

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #29 The Seanan McGuire by Any Other Name Edition (Part 2)


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I never thought I'd do minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps 😊. Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long reviews - no such luck LOL (though for anthologies, shorter books or books that I didn't enjoy/I don't have enough to say about, I decided to stick to minis). But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, I might as well give you the short version 😉. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

So, it's Seanan McGuire time again, because I just love her and I buy plenty of her stuff...Only one of these books was published under her real name though - the other two are, respectively, part of her A. Deborah Baker and Mira Grant productions. The only one I plan on reviewing in full later is Where the Drowned Girls Go, because even if it's a novella, it's part of a series I was already writing long reviews for before I decided a mini would have to suffice for shorter books and anthologies...so, you know, consistency 🤷‍♀️. Here goes...

Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire
(Wayward Children #7)

★★★★★

Desperate to break the hold the Drowned Gods have on her, Cora requires a transfer to a school that forces the Wayward Children to negate their doors, only to end up fighting its oppressive rules with the help of friends new and old and unveiling a conspiracy that could change everything.

***

Seven books, and I finally get to rate one of them five stars. I had high hopes for this one, because fat mermaids with blue-green hair and a brave heart have been my kryptonite since I met Cora in Beneath the Sugar Sky. But Where the Drowned Girls Go is a lot more than Cora's story. It's a story about choices, loyalty, pain, sacrifice, courage and redemption; a story about teens unmasking adults' hypocrisy and becoming a better version of themselves; a story where names have power and heroes don't necessarily have swords; a story where every character, no matter how small their page count, brings something to the table, and you won't be able to forget any one of them. Also, a story that expands the Wayward Children universe and opens a whole lot of exciting possibilities for the future installments. How am I supposed to wait a whole year in order to read the next one? Honestly, bring on all the Januaries already.

Full review to come (Goodreads pre-review)

Along the Saltwise Sea by A. Deborah Baker
(The Up-and-Under #2)

★★★

With friends Crow Girl and Niamh at their side, free-spirited Zib and rule-follower Avery, still looking for a way home, seek refuge in a pirate queen's cottage, thus finding themselves in debt with her and having to serve a week aboard of her ship, where mystery, peril and some answers await.

***

Rated 3.5 really.

A charming little story offering more in the way of world building and character insight/development than the first one did (though it doesn't have a real plot to speak of). The series gets more and more reminiscent of the Wayward Children one by the same author (under her birth name), in that the Up-and-Under not only is a huge portal world in itself, but contains smaller ones (like Niamh's and the Lady of Salt and Sorrow's stories testify) - not to mention, Baker/McGuire sprinkles the narrative with nuggets of wisdom/observations about gender, sexism and adult/child interaction that very much call to mind her WC books. I loved to see Zib and Avery grow into their friendship (though they don't dare to call it that yet) and the side characters get their chance not only to shine, but to learn as well. Also, welcome, pirate queen 🤗.

Note: definitive review (due to time commitments, I've decided not to write full-length reviews anymore for short stories, novellas and anthologies, except in special cases or unless they're part of a series).

Square³ by Mira Grant

★★★★

Two sisters separated as teens by a rift in the fabric of reality get reunited as adults when tragedy strikes - and realise their original roles have been reversed, or maybe not.

***

This one gives off strong Wayward Children vibes at first (I'm talking about the style and the neglected-kids narrative), but when everyday reality collides with a world of impossible horrors and deadly wonders that you allegedly can't cross into (and viceversa), it turns into full-fledged Mira Grant. Katharine, the rule-following older sister (also autistic, but mind you - it doesn't bear much weight in the story) is swallowed by the rift and thrown into a life-threatening nightmare that forces her to break a number of them - or to make new ones - while Susan, the rebel younger sibling, grows up to become the scientist Katharine should have been, in hope to be able to retrieve her sister (who might be dead for all she knows) from the monster world. The sisterly-bond scenario fuels the story at first, then it seems to take a backseat to the drive for scientific discovery on one side, the fierce protective instinct toward your own on the other. So I was a little bummed about that, but as usual, Grant provides excellent character studies even when those characters don't fulfill your expectations. Not to mention, old instincts have a way to resurface, and even to perpetuate down the genetic line...
Bottom line: Square³ delivers an intriguing sci-fi premise with a thriller angle, wrapped into a familiar yet creative fantasy/horror scenario and fueled by sibling affection, with some memorable young female characters (or young versions of them) and some slightly more stereotypical, but still strong adult ones. Recommended if you dig science horror where hearts and guts (of both kinds) bear the same weight.

Note: definitive review (due to time commitments, I've decided not to write full-length reviews anymore for short stories, novellas and anthologies, except in special cases or unless they're part of a series).

So, have you read/are you planning to read any of the above? And if you have, what do you think of them? Do you post mini reviews? Do you like to read them?

14 comments:

  1. What is it with science horror? I seem to be liking those more lately. Square has me curious. I do like the alternate reality/ having to be rescued trope.

    I didn't know about her other pseudonym.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Science horror is always fascinating, though we've been living in an all-too-real science-horror nightmare for two years now LOL.

      She's full of surprises! 😉

      Delete
  2. I didn't really like the first Up and Under book, so I'm not that interested in the sequel. Which is weird because I loved Middlegame!

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    Replies
    1. I loved Middlegame to bits too, but to be honest, I expected the Up-and-Under series to be much more relevant to its origin (?) book's plot. That being said, I liked Book 2 more than the first installment, so you might too (unless you'd rather read a story that hinges on the plot).

      Delete
  3. Science horror - aren't we living that? Only, kidding (maybe a little) Interesting group of books. Not shocked to see a high rating for McGuire from you, but I didn't realize it was the first five star. Bravo! Go fat mermaids.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No kidding LOL.

      The first five star in this series...but I have a number of them for her other works! And yeah, fat mermaids are amazing. Cora is such a complex and interesting character.

      Delete
  4. I love your mini reviews so much! I'm happy you're doing more of them :-)

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    ReplyDelete
  5. I haven't read any of these but I have read Mira Grant before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are quite a number of books by her as Mira. Which ones have you read?

      Delete
  6. Hold the phone, I didn't know Deborah Baker was her other pen name. I'm reading Come Tumbling Down right now and loving it. I'm happy that Cora got a story, but I still need Christopher's!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. McGuire is unstoppable! 😅

      Alas, no Christopher story for the foreseeable future...

      Delete
  7. I'm glad you were finally able to give one of the books 5 stars! And it sounds like it was a lovely story. Glad you enjoyed the others too, even if not quite as much. Also wow, she has a lot of pen names lol.

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    Replies
    1. Haha, she does! I wouldn't put it past her to come up with more of them in the future, should she decide to venture into other genres...

      Delete

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