Genre Spotlight: Fantasy and Historical Mystery

It’s springtime, it’s raining, and I’m filling up an ark with two of every kind… it’s a book ark, and my first two sets of books are historical mysteries and fantasy.

Forgive me. I always get a little too whimsical in the spring, when the tulips are coming out. If either of these authors read this blog post, which they won’t, they’d cringe at their books being within a mile of being compared to animals on the ark. On the other hand, I’m about to rave about how terrific all these books are. Sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth.

darkershadeFirst into the ark go the first two books in what will probably end up being yet another fantasy trilogy, A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows, both by V.E. Schwab. The premise of the world Ms. Schwab has built (with great craftsmanship) is that there are different spheres that parallel one another. In this setting there is a Grey London, a Red London, and a White London, all of which have different levels of magic as part of their makeup. Only certain kinds of magicians, called Travelers, are able to journey between the worlds. Kell is such a magician, and as he pairs up with a quick-witted thief called Lila, the question arises as to how much magic Lila has and how she may use it. It is a pleasure to follow Kell and Lila on their fantastical adventures. The plot is well-paced, the magic is well-integrated, and the dialogue is as sharp as one of Lila’s many concealed knives. Go ahead and get a start on this series before the next one comes out.

midwifeThe second pair into the ark are the first two installments in a historical mystery series by local author Sam Thomas, The Midwife’s Tale and The Harlot’s Tale.  Set in mid-seventeenth-century England in the city of York, midwife Bridget Hodgson takes in a new servant, Martha Hawkins. These two, as they attend birthings in the city, become entangled in a crime, said to be committed by Bridge’s close friend. In both books, the historical details are perfect and the story lines, which include midwifery as Bridget and Martha attend various lyings-in of York mothers-to-be, and the pursuit of criminals against the backdrop of political upheaval, draw the reader back into that time and place. There are four Midwife Mysteries in the series, actually; I have not yet read all four, and I look forward to doing so. The third one is The Witch Hunter’s Tale and the fourth is The Midwife and the Assassin.

And that’s really about as far as I’m going to take my fanciful ark metaphor. No doubt I’ll come up with something equally silly in the next Genre Spotlight. Stay tuned!

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