Some Kind of Fairy Tale
By Graham Joyce
Tara's family thought she was dead. Twenty years ago she went for a walk in the woods and never came back. When a woman who looks almost identical to Tara shows up, looking the same age as Tara when she left, people don't know what to believe. If it is Tara, then where has she been? If it isn't, then what does this woman want? As they try to piece together this new Tara's story, her family must deal with the sins of the past. They must make amends to Tara's old boyfriend, suspected of killing her two decades before. When Tara finally comes clean to her brother with a fantastic tale that logic tells him can't be real, he knows he has to make a choice. Could Tara be telling the truth, or is this woman a changeling trying to take her place?
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
By Susanna Clarke
Mr. Norrell is a fusty old magician living in an alternate version of 19th century England where they are still fighting Napoleon and magic is real. Or at least it used to be. Most magicians these days have forgotten the practical application and do not believe that Mr. Norrell can do the amazing things he claims. That is, they don't believe until he brings a number of statues to life to prove his point. When Jonathan Strange meets Mr. Norrell the old man agrees to be his tutor. Strange has a knack for magic and a personal flair that poor Norrell lacks. Strange also has a wife who, due to some magical meddling, begins meeting a strange man who steals her away at night to a ballroom filled with strangely beautiful people. As the history of this alternate England progresses, Strange and Norrell find themselves at odds about the use of magic for warfare and their relationship is strained to the breaking point. Who will prevail when the two greatest magicians of the age do battle?
Written as a popular history, complete with footnotes detailing the history of magic, this book is no small undertaking. It took ten years before the author submitted it for publication, but when she did it won best novel at the 2005 Hugo Awards. It's a hefty tome, but it's well worth the read. It's also a great book to listen to if you prefer audio books.
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Review by Danny Hanbery