Size 12 Is Not Fat: A Heather Wells Mystery only makes sense if you realize that it’s not set in REAL New York. It, like the Dresden Files, is set in White City, where POC are fairly absent or caricatured and where other people are WAY too into your business. In this major metropolis of White World, people are constantly insulting your weight or career aspirations, and no man in the history of ever has even considered dating a woman larger than a size 2. If you’re into the kind of fiction pioneered by Bridget Jones’ Diary, where the hapless narrator insults both herself and other women in the constant pursuit of a cheap laugh, and where the funny pitfalls of modern life are exaggerated to the point of incomprehensibility, but find pesky things like a relatable heroine a distraction to your day, you might enjoy Meg Cabot’s new mystery series. Otherwise, don’t bother. We’re talking about a narrator who hates standing to shower. This is canon. While she’s supposed to be quirky and charming, she’s so lazy in canon that she resents having to stand to shower. This fat-girl=lazy-girl motif is appearing in an ostensibly body-positive mystery series. This is the first time in awhile I’ve been annoyed at myself for finishing a book. I’m bitterly disappointed at the existence of this series: SHAME ON THE UNIVERSE AS A WHOLE.
Emma Bull’s Territory is what The Tales of Alvin Maker could have been: a fantasy of Western expansion gleefully incorporating earth magic, blood bindings, and historical research. While I overall enjoyed the novel, I struggled with the lack of reference to people of African descent. Though I know Biddy Mason, for example, probably wasn’t in Tombstone, it seems historically unlikely she and her children were the ONLY black people in the Old West, particularly when Tombstone’s put up a monument to the Buffalo Soldiers. Plus, this work engages not at all in the vagaries of colonization (either of the indigenous population or of the Mexican via the Treaty of Hidalgo (which was a result of a conflict about slavery/land ownership, so uh, there needs to be more black people). Despite this glaring absence, this novel is refreshing because of its focus on the Earp women, and because of the use of Tombstone’s Chinatown as a site of magical intrigue. The narrators — Doc Holliday, Mildred Benjamin (a Jewish widow in the Old West!! <3), and Jesse Fox — emerge with distinct voices, each highlighting the effects of magic on both practitioners, victims, and witnesses.
Ahem.I’m gonna introduce this next series with a quote.
”When you meet Sinderian Faelloneos, observe her well, for then you will be privileged to see the most gifted young wizard of her generation… [Her teachers] let her go off at an early age to break her heart on the battlefields of Rhethun, leaving all her other talents lying fallow.”
Madeline Howard’s Rune of Unmaking series is rapidly becoming the epic fantasy version of Joanne Rowling’s Hermione Granger — one of the major highlights of this series is the wizard/healer, Sinderian, described above. While she comes from a line of talented wizards, the wars dividing her nation have pretty much decimated a generation. She’s undertrained, over-powerful, and gearing up to save the world. Also, her dad’s been transformed into a bird, which is cool and all because dude BIRDS, but seriously is hampering her training. Madeline Howard (AKA Teresa Edgerton, who wrote the Celydon trilogy) is back — hopefully for reals this time. It will break my heart to not know the end of Sinderian’s story.