Welcome to Smugglivus 2009 – Day 21!
Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2009, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2010.
Today’s Guest: Aidan Moher, of the speculative fiction blog A Dribble of Ink. Aidan, an aspiring author and avid reader, runs a wonderful blog that showcases some of the best and brightest authors in the SFF genre. We also had him over last year for Smugglivus, and naturally had to have him back for 2009.
Ladies and gents, we give you Aidan!
Is it that time of the year, already? 2009 is gone, and A Dribble of Ink has another year under its belt. Instead of pandering to my own desires and rambling endlessly about what a great year its been on my blog, I thought I’d use this space to shout out loud about some of the things that I most enjoyed in 2009.
This is a book blog, right? So I might as well start there. As I was coming up with a list of three novels I wanted to talk about, it occurred to me that two of the works about to appear on my list are ones that The Book Smugglers and I have agreed to disagree on. So, here’s my chance to set the record straight about two of my favourite novels of the year: The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and The Magicians by Lev Grossman.
Likely my most highly anticipated novel releasing in 2009, The Angel’s Game is the prequel to my favourite novel, The Shadow of the Wind. Looking back on my review, there’s one comment that still accurately sums up what I think is so wonderful about Zafon and his novels:
‘I think the most accurate and honest thing I can say about Zafon’s novels is that despite the fact that they sell millions of copies worldwide, and hit every bestseller list imaginable, when I’m reading them they still feel like my little secret – just me and the novel, a world that exists only in my hands.’
The Angel’s Game is a quiet, haunting novel that has stuck with me through the rest of the year. It requires work on the part of the reader, and even months later, I still find myself thinking of the heartbreaking ending, always finding new nuances and interpretations of Zafon’s story. Ana and The Book Smugglers are clearly crazy.
Lev Grossman’s The Magicians is yet further proof that Ana’s completely lost her mind! In all seriousness, though, The Magicians is a love-it-or-hate-it novel, and I fell firmly on the ‘love it’ side. Ana’s review, on the other hand, is a fabulous analysis of the novel from the opposite angle.
Some people will brush The Magicians off as nothing more than a Harry Potter/Narnia ripoff, and being full of unlikable characters, but for my money Grossman’s novel is a fascinating study of the Fantasy genre and the tropes that have been fuelling its stories for decades. Even more interesting is the way Grossman parallels magic and drug use, as the protagonist uses magic, and the Narnia-like world of Fillory, as a crutch to solve all his problems. In my review, I liken The Magicians to Trainspotting. Until last week, The Magicians was my favourite novel of the year.
So, what’s replaced it, you ask? A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham. I’m just finishing it up now, so I’ll save my full thoughts for the review I write early next week, but I’ve been absolutely blown away by Abraham’s debut novel. Hell, established novelists with a dozen books under their belt would struggle to output a novel of A Shadow in Summer‘s quality. It’s absolutely sublime, and a crime that Abraham’s name isn’t on the lips of Fantasy readers everywhere.
Abraham was recently dropped by Tor Books, after The Long Price Quartet was finished, and I have a feeling they will be kicking themselves when Orbit Books releases Abraham’s next series, The Dagger and the Coin, a more traditional Fantasy series that is sure to attract a lot of attention.
Beyond books, I wanted to bring attention to a few of the blogs that really kept me on my toes this year and represent some of the best the Speculative Fiction blogosphere has to offer.
Stomping on Yeti is new to the blogosphere, but has quickly carved out a solid niche for itself with a terrific series of interviews called ‘Keeping an eye on…” and it seems like every other day there’s another great author being interviewed and showcased. And hell, he even created an eye-gougingly bad cover for my recently completed novel, Through Bended Grass. I expect big things from Patrick in the year to come.
Jeff at Fantasy Book News & Reviews is one of the most honest and genuine bloggers out there. But the thing that’ll keep you coming back to his website time and again? His daily roundups of what’s going on in the blogosphere, and his exhaustive archive of all the Fantasy reviews to cross his path.
Many of your readers probably know The Wertzone, but it needs to be mentioned anyway. Adam seems to be an endless well of knowledge about anything related to Fantasy and Science Fiction. Movies, Books or Videogames? He’s got it covered. Sharp reviewer, too.
Possibly my favourite blog going, Speculative Horizons is witty, acidic and smart all at once. Editor James Long might not be the most prolific blogger, but every time he posts it’s always worth reading. He’s got great insight into the genre, writes solid reviews and isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers. There’s a lot to admire about Long and his blog.
Wait. What’s that? You do want to hear a bit about me? Aww shucks. Well, I’m too humble for that so I’m not going to tell you about my recently completed novel, or that you should visit my blog a couple of times a day. Maybe next year. Because 2009 is over, and so is this article.
Thanks Aidan! And hey, it’s Aidan’s birthday too – so Happy Birthday!
Next on Smugglivus: Danielle of Opinionated, Me?