East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Books for Christmas #1

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Christmas before time: yesterday my brother gave me two books as a gift, and I already started reading one, because it looked quite interesting – an impression that was confirmed by the first chapters.

The book in question is Jade City, a fantasy novel by author Fonda Lee, set in a sort of early 20th century Hong Kong or Shanghai, but is not (this being a secondary world novel). The setting reminds me of movies like Shanghai Triad, and you can guess why I am so curious about it.
The setting is fascinating, the action tight,and the novel comes with a staggering roster of accolades: it won both the World Fantasy Award and the Aurora Award, and it was a finalist for the Nebula, the Locus Award and the Sunburst Award. It was also named one of the Best Books of 2017 by NPR, B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Powell’s Books, Locus Magazine, Syfy Wire, Den of Geek, and the Verge.
Not bad.

The second, equally intriguing volume I received yesterday is called Foundryside, and it’s an industrial steampunk fantasy by Robert Jackson Bennett. In this case it is the author and not the book that comes with a fine pedigree, as he won twice the Shirley Jackson award for Best Novel, and also an Edgar Award and the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer.
In this case the book looks like a different take on steampunk elements, and it will certainly make for a great read in the long dark winter nights to come.

Interestingly enough, both novels deal with stolen goods, family feuds, and a form of monopoly on magic in a modern or industrial setting.
I’ll post proper reviews in due time.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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