Little bits of sorcery
In the Discworld, the eighth son of an eighth son can become a wizard. But what happens when this eighth son is actually a daughter – now in possession of a dangerously independent and fiercely protective staff? Well…looks like women can’t be wizards (or so says the lore – probably partly because the masculine version of a witch is a warlock) – but Esk will show them all. While I’m not perfectly aligned with all the subtleties of the magical denominations, little Eskarina’s adventure (together with Granny Weatherwax) in the murky waters of non-discrimination in magical learning was quite fun. The books with witches aren’t exactly my favorites – and I was hoping Rincewind would pop up, especially at the Unseen University – but even so, it was good, reliable, Pratchett-style fun.
Part M*A*S*H in R&R (and a lot less PG than the show), part Lost, part Apocalypse Now (specifically this part), together with a not-negligible serving of original grotesquerie can make for a pretty skin-crawlingly-disgusting-and-yet-can’t- tear-your-eyes-away read. I’d say the translation sounded a bit awkward at times – but then again, it could have been the original; I wouldn’t know. Three medical workers are sent on an island, with the usual mission to gather up the dead. What they find there defies all natural laws: dead mean coming back to life as bloated, water saturated zombies and trees that are alive and pretty damn angry – enough to kill heavily-armed troops without them ever firing a shot. In a way, this could be a very eco-friendly cautionary tale: look what happens when you mess with nature – it comes back to destroy you. But Brussolo’s atmosphere of clinging, suffocating humidity and claustrophobic terror pervades through every page – and it would make for a really good movie. (I’m actually surprised there isn’t one already.)