The Brides of Rollrock Island, Shining Girls, Broken Monsters, Magic for Beginners

The Brides of Rollrock Island

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan is an interesting take on the selkie legend. In case you're not familiar with it, they are fairy women who are seals in one form and human looking women in their other form. When they come ashore and turn into a woman they cast off their seal fur coats. If you can steal that sealskin and keep it hidden from them then they're bound to you. Obviously this is an awful form of slavery. Brides of Rollrock Island at its heart is a look at the multi-generational damage that this slavery brings. Told in multi protagonist perspective it's an absolutely gorgeous book. If you've read Ms Lanagan's work in the past, such as Tender Morsels, you might be a little worried that it's going to be absolutely heart-rending. I'm happy to report that this book isn't nearly as traumatic as the other one. Or at least it wasn't for me. It's a beautifully written, moving story. You can read an excerpt here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/209564/the-brides-of-rollrock-is...

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Shining Girls and Broken Monsters
I read Shining Girls last week and then followed it up with Broken Monsters, both by Lauren Beukes. Unfortunately that means I'm now done with all of her fiction and will have to wait for her to write another book. I very much enjoyed reading her novels. Every one is different from the last one which is nice. Don't get me wrong, I like series just as much as the next person but I also really enjoy authors who can change their styles from book to book. (Say for instance Neil Gaiman.) The Shining Girls is a time traveling serial killer murder mystery/thriller. One thing that I love about this story is that it doesn't focus on the killer or the killings or describe them in lurid, loving detail. This book is about the victims and the impact on the victims' family. A young lady survives what should have been a fatal attack and goes to work as a newspaper intern so that she can do what the cops haven't been able to do; find the killer. This is a terrific novel but it is a little confusing because the chapters jump around to different times and I had a little bit of trouble keeping straight what was happening when. You can read an excerpt here: http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2012/10/11/start-reading-the-shining-girl...

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Broken Monsters takes place in Detroit post bankruptcy. It's set in the burgeoning art scene and it also follows a series of murders. If you like the TV show Hannibal you should like this novel. Like Hannibal, it's also very surreal and features bizarre, disturbing manipulation of the victims' bodies. It's told from the perspective of artists, writers, a police officer and her daughter, and a homeless entrepreneur. I found this story quite confusing because I wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't. I'm not going to spoil it by giving you my interpretation. But if you don't like stories that can be read in various ways you probably won't like this one. However if you are up for a bit of a challenge with your mystery you should really like it. You can read an excerpt here: http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2014/09/16/broken-monsters-lauren-beukes-...

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Magic for Beginners
Speaking of stories that can be interpreted in different ways and are rather nebulous and vague, Ms. Link is the master of this type of story. I read her novella The Specialist's Hat more than a decade ago and I still have no idea what it was about or what was happening. I started Magic for Beginners a couple of years ago and misplaced it. I reread it a couple of days ago and was surprised to discover that one story, Stone Animals, that I previously found extraordinary baffling now seems much more straightforward. It's about a disjointed family that moves from the city into the country. They slowly abandon their possessions as they say that they are haunted. Dad, who is spending way too much time in the city, is informed that his entire office is now haunted. At one point the daughter says that her brother is haunted. Meanwhile mom becomes obsessed with painting and fantasizes about drinking paint and the lawn becomes infested with rabbits. As with all of Ms. Link's works, merely discussing plot doesn't at all convey the sheer gorgeousness of her work. Below is a link to The Faery Handbag, which is an absolutely fabulous story told by a young lady whose grandmother has a handbag in which an entire fairy hill and a small village live. This is one of my favorite stories of all time. The Hortlak is about a lonely young man who lives in a convenience store right by an abyss that's filled with zombies. Some Zombie Contingency Plans is a story with a mysterious painting, a gentleman who just got out of prison, and a teenage house party. The title story, Magic for Beginners is another one that I really like. Told from the perspective of a confused young man whose parents' marriage is in trouble, it's about friendship and fandom. There's quite a bit about a television show called The Library. If that was a real show I would watch the hell out of it. You can read The Faery Handbag here: http://smallbeerpress.com/free-stuff-to-read/2005/07/01/the-faery-handba...

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Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is from the Department of the Interior's Tumblr. It's a red fox who is having a bit of trouble. http://americasgreatoutdoors.tumblr.com/post/143893926234/is-it-friday-y...