As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Corsair, 21st March
2013. ISBN: 978-1-47210-653-7
I’d better begin with a health warning.
book came to the wrong review site. By no known definition could it be
described as crime or mystery. You don’t even have to open it to learn this;
there’s an enormous clue on the cover – it won two awards, the Hugo and the
Nebula: major prizes both, but for science-fiction and fantasy. And you’re
still not convinced, google the author and you’ll find she is an established
and acclaimed writer of fantasy, with no track record in crime fiction.
isn’t even cross-genre. Well, it is – but Young Adult crossed with fantasy
rather than crime crossed with anything. The only nod towards crime is the
psychological, or possibly psychic, damage the protagonist has suffered at her
mother’s hands. And maybe the bullying she encounters at school, but that seems
to be normal behaviour, however unacceptable.
the other hand... Woman cannot live by crime fiction alone. Twenty pages in, I
was hooked. I loved it. I ached to know how it would finish, but I didn’t want
it to end.
slightly weird, but slightly weird appeals to me, speaks to me, in fact. Mori,
the fifteen-year-old narrator, doesn’t so much believe in magic and fairies as
assume their existence as demonstrable and unremarkable fact. She casts spells
and they work, or, if you prefer, after she casts them, the things she expects
to happen actually do happen.
written, quite beautifully, in the form of a diary covering ten life-changing,
coming-of-age months in Mori’s life. Right from the start she hints at the
tragedy in her past: a few months earlier she and her twin sister set out to
stop their mother from using black magic for her own selfish and terrible ends,
and the price of their success was her sister’s life and her own physical
well-being. Part of the story’s charm is the slow, subtle unfolding of this
backstory, which ultimately leads to her mother’s attempt at revenge, and a
huge decision for Mori herself.
has often been the case in the small amount of fantasy I’ve read, many of the
characters are two-dimensional, but somehow in this context that’s how it
should be. It’s as if Mori is viewing them as figures on a moving canvas, not
connecting or interacting with them. When she does encounter people she can
connect with – her warm and loving South Welsh relations, a lively book group
she discovers, or magicks up, depending how you want to see it – they fill out
and become real.
herself is a glorious mix of insecurity, certainty, desperation, hope,
self-doubt – the whole adolescent nine yards with added physical disability,
and a passion and appetite for books which I struggle to rival. At the end,
when she proved herself more powerful than the controlling mother who caused
such damage, and began to see a way out of the labyrinthine tangle of being a
teenager, I wanted to cheer.
fiction it’s not. A wonder and a joy, as it was described by the leading critic
quoted on the cover, it certainly is. If I hadn’t already fallen in love with
it, a couple of lines of page 329 would have clinched it: They could take
the money from building enough nukes to kill all the Russians in the world and
give it to libraries. What good does an independent nuclear deterrent do,
compared to the good of libraries?
that say it all?
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Jo Walton is a
Welsh-Canadian fantasy and science fiction writer and poet. Born in December
1964.She won the John W. Campbell Award
for Best New Writer in 2002 and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in 2004.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house
groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.