From its frenetic pacing to its video-game-NPC dialogue to its uncomfortably erotic torture scene, A Hunter Among Wolves has a lot of issues. This probably should have been a DNF, but the one thing it does have going for it is that it’s short enough to not be too big a time investment so I figured I may as well finish it so I could write a full review and see if it got any better (it did not).
Fairy tale meets dungeon crawl meets queer romance in this bizarrely adorable novella by Tamsyn Muir. The witch wants to make art, and so she locks Princess Floralinda up at the top of a tower with forty flights. She does it all quite properly, with one challenge per flight, and any prince that wants to rescue Floralinda must face all forty challenges. Unfortunately, even the first challenge is too difficult for every prince who attempts it, and Floralinda remains unrescued. Upon discovering a quite concerning diary, Floralinda decides to take matters into her own hands and attempt to escape the tower. This task would seem insurmountable for a princess, but the fairy Cobweb shows up in a storm, and together they take on the tower’s obstacles.
And Then There Were (N-One) is a delightful, almost warm and fuzzy murder mystery novella. It was originally described to me as “cozy,” which is also a great adjective for it. Sarah Pinsker investigates the death of Sarah Pinsker. The suspects? All different versions of Sarah Pinsker from alternate realities, attendees of SarahCon. While investigating, Sarah is confronted by her “Divergence Points” and forced to question her life’s every decision, relationship, and mistake. But I promise, it’s all done in a delightful, warm, fuzzy, and cozy way! It was a joy to read, and I highly recommend it.
I dare you to read A Spindle Splintered with a dry eye for a single page (you won’t, it’s impossible). Zinnia Gray is a dying girl who’s spent her life obsessed with Sleeping Beauty because being a cursed girl seems better than being a dying girl. Alix Harrow uses a poetic, musical first-person present voice that leaves the reader heartbroken for both the protagonist and also every other character at every moment of this 128-page-long novella.
Unlike Edgedancer, I don’t think Dawnshard can be read on its own; it’s too tightly embedded into the overall story arc of the Stormlight Archive. But I wanted to write a review of it anyway, because it deals with physical disability so incredibly well, something pretty rare in fantasy. Major spoilers for all Stormlight content up to and through Oathbringer (but not Dawnshard itself) follow.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things meets the Marvel Cinematic Universe embedded into the Cosmere in this absolutely delightful novella. Lift showed up for one interlude chapter in Words of Radience and now gets her own almost 300-page-long spotlight in the most adorable story ever, as she and Wyndle travel from Azimir to Tashikk.
When we hear the costs paid by royalty, by “main characters,” what about the costs paid by those that serve? In-yo is sent from the north to become empress, and she is all alone in an unfamiliar kingdom. She has to give up everything of her past life to serve her country. But this story is not about her, necessarily; it’s about servant-turned-handmaiden Rabbit, who has to sacrifice even more, all for In-yo.