March was a bit quiet in terms of review copies, as I felt too embarrassed by my months-long backlog of reviews to ask for too many more to add to the pile. Still, a few I couldn’t resist:
1. Harper Audio, Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill, read by Vikas Adam. I’d just listened to Vikas Adam as one of two narrators for Manil Suri’s The City of Devi and he was again quite, quite good in this slow-building but high-payoff urban fantasy, which sets the world of the Fae, with glamour, changelings, the Seelie and Unseelie, against modern day Austin, Texas.
2. Hachette Audio, Fade to Black by Francis Knight, read by Paul Thornley. I really, really enjoyed this debut fantasy, a gritty world of magical pollution, read superbly by Thornley. “From the depths of a valley rises the city of Mahala. It’s a city built upwards, not across – where streets are built upon streets, buildings upon buildings. A city that the Ministry rules from the sunlit summit, and where the forsaken lurk in the darkness of Under. Rojan Dizon doesn’t mind staying in the shadows, because he’s got things to hide. Things like being a pain-mage, with the forbidden power to draw magic from pain. But he can’t hide forever. Because when Rojan stumbles upon the secrets lurking in the depths of the Pit, the fate of Mahala will depend on him using his magic. And unlucky for Rojan – this is going to hurt.”
3. Blackstone Audio, The Veiled Web by Catherine Asaro, read by Caroline Shaffer. It’s the one on this list I haven’t gotten to yet, but that will be remedied soon. “Ballerina Lucia del Mar has two great passions: dance, which consumes most of her waking hours, and the Internet, which brings the outside world into her tightly regimented life. These two passions collide when a White House performance and reception leads to an encounter with handsome Moroccan businessman Rashid al-Jazari, creator of a brilliant technology that has set the Internet rumor mill ablaze.”
4. Harper Audio, The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates, read by Grover Gardner. A leisurely, indulgent enigma of an historical/supernatural literary novel from Oates, set in early 20th century Princeton, New Jersey, under (Princeton University, not yet United States) President Woodrow Wilson, with characters such as Grover Cleveland, Upton Sinclair, Samuel Clemens, and more arcing into the unusual narrative structure, that of the book being the historical account of a “curse” as compiled in the mid-20th century from a Princeton historian. Everything is couched, to me, in a kind of veil of deniability: is Oates publishing an overtly supernatural novel? Is in fact even this fictitious historian doing so, or is he merely reporting, via “deciphered” journals and other (perhaps suspect?) eyewitness accounts the (purporedly) biographical and historical details? This book has me very, very often at Wikipedia, cross-referencing the real history with that of The Accursed and, thus far (I’m in the last stages of Part 3), still being drawn along slowly by the dry current of a strange, but thoroughly enjoyable, novel.