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April 20, 2020

I think part of why I enjoyed Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories so much is that his collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories isn’t just about technological and magical wizardry (although there’s plenty of both). The true through-lines are the related themes of identity and memory.
 

Liu alludes to this in the preface by suggesting that “We spend our entire lives trying to tell stories about ourselves—they’re the essence of memory. It is how we make living in...

February 11, 2020

Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf is one of the most challenging books I’ve read in a long time. It’s also one of the most fascinating.
 

Let’s start with the structure. The story is mostly told in first-person by Tracker, a bounty hunter who has “a nose” (the ability to track by scent), “an eye” (a wolf eye in place of one of his human eyes), and “a mouth” (a habit of saying caustic things). But Tracker isn’t relating his tales directly to the reader. He’s being interrogated by an...

February 6, 2020

I'm thrilled to announce that my historical-fantasy novella "Magic in the Mud Show" (set in the Barnum & Bailey Circus of 1892) is in the Winter 2020 issue of The Colored Lens. The story will eventually serve as a prequel for my forthcoming novel Magic in the White City. But for now, "Magic in the Mud Show" stands alone. You can pick it up (along with some other great stories) on Amazon.
 

September 14, 2019

I liked Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay’s take on 8th Century China, but it might be the first historical fantasy I’ve read that felt too realistic.
 

The magic in Under Heaven (shamans, ghosts, etc.) only exists on the margins, yet that isn’t what threw me off. And I respect how much research Kay clearly did on the Tang Dynasty, even though he occasionally delivers his version of the details as bald info-dumps. Mostly, I just wish the protagonist’s decisions and actions mattered more.
 

I...

July 15, 2019

The Black Resurrection, the second book in my Red Wraith series, is out today on Amazon! Want a preview? The first chapter is below:
 

Da looked away as the Imperial Guards mutilated his nearly completed dragon.
 

He’d had time to finish the body, enhancing its elephantine base by grafting on the necks of a hundred snakes, the bellies of a thousand frogs, and the scales of countless carp. The four legs were done too, ending in tiger paws tipped with hawk talons. And the head was perfect,...

May 12, 2019

Writing update: The Black Resurrection, the second novel in my Red Wraith series, will be available July 15 on Amazon! It's a standalone sequel, so you don't need to have read the previous book or the prequel novellas. (But if you'd like to, my suggested reading order is here.)
 

Isaura’s son has been kidnapped.

Worse, his kidnappers are taking him to Huancavelica, a Peruvian mercury mine so dangerous it’s known as the “Mine of Death.”

Her only ally is Amadi, a runaway slave haunted b...

December 12, 2018

Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana is the best-written fantasy I’ve read in a while.
 

It wasn’t just the prose that got me (although Kay’s phrasing is often gorgeous). I loved the setup: instead of having one villain threatening to take over the known world, Kay has two, both sorcerers. And they’ve already divided up the Palm, a hand-shaped peninsula based on the boot of early Renaissance Italy. The resulting balance is precarious. “Today only the power of one keeps the magic of the other from b...

November 2, 2018

It’s hard to do better than Naomi Novik when you want a good historical fantasy.
 

Spinning Silver, her latest offering, is a riff on Rumpelstiltskin set in medieval Russia. Miryem, the daughter of a Jewish moneylender, takes up her father’s trade and finds she’s shrewd enough to turn pennies into silver and silver into gold. Her success attracts the attention of the Staryk King, the manifestation of Russian winter. He wants her to make gold for him, and eventually forces her into being...

April 14, 2018

The Ascenders comes out today! The first chapter is below. Enjoy!
 

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The infernal pig shot out of Chase’s hands, scrabbling further into the woods and away from the colony.
 

Damn it all, but that sow was slippery.
 

Chase, having fallen onto the muddiest portion of the trail when the swine eluded his grasp (again!), picked his stout frame off the ground and sprinted in pursuit.
 

“Mila!” he shouted. “You blasted ball of bacon, come back here!”
 

That was two hours of chasing this pig...

April 7, 2018

The Girl with Ghost Eyes might be the first cultural fantasy I’ve read.
 

M. H. Boroson’s novel is packed with plenty of history too. The story is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown at the end of the nineteenth century. And there are references to legislation like the Chinese Exclusion Act and events like the California Gold Rush.
 

But it’s the wealth of cultural detail that makes this book so unique.

The protagonist is a Chinese American immigrant named Xian Li-lin. She’s daughter to Chin...

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I write mostly speculative fiction. Usually fantasy, with historical elements mixed in. Sometimes there's a bit of mystery too, or (shhh!) even a little romance.

 

But it's weird—it's always weird. Consider yourself warned.

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