I haven’t had a chance to write down any interesting book recommendations for Kindle fans in a while now, but I figure that since I have a decent list piling up it might be time to share. It’s been an enjoyable couple months of reading and I’ve got several more modern fantasy offerings that I hope you will enjoy. I did. They aren’t the cheapest books I could find, but they are definitely worth the asking price.
Kraken – China Miéville
This is really one of the best books I’ve read all year, even if it isn’t necessarily the best thing ever written by the author. It is a decently complex fantasy mystery set in a London strangely reminiscent of that in Gaiman’s Neverwhere. It’s a world of cults, secrecy, underworld politics, and strange powers. On top of that, there is a magically missing giant squid which seems to be at the heart of a plot that could end the world forever.
I’m honestly a little confused about the mixed reception that Kraken has gotten so far. It is averaging 3 Stars overall in the Kindle Store, but deserves more. It worked in most ways, but some people may find it a bit off-putting from what I’m told. While it might not be for everybody, if you think you would enjoy a complex story that forces you to understand the protagonist’s state of mind during unexpected culture shock then I’d say give it a go.
Something From the Nightside – Simon Green
This is the first in a fairly substantial series by Green. It’s a quick, fun read that I can’t describe much better than Pulp Detective Fiction meets Moorcock’s Multiverse. The main character is a professional detective with no actual detecting skill besides a “gift” that lets him find anything magically. The fact that it manages to be a fun read is proof of the concept that it can be more interesting to watch a mystery being solved than to understand the process by which it is solved.
In a lot of ways, this reads like the author’s personal homage to all the things he loves in literature. You’ll catch references, both overt and subtle, to the existence of things taken from dozens of different major genre works you might have read. After something as dense and complex as Kraken, it makes a great fun diversion.
The Magicians – Lev Grossman
This is sort of a harsh take on Harry Potter with a bunch of CS Lewis thrown in for good measure. Basically, Magic is real and people learn to use it at secret schools where only the best of the best can get in and learn to manipulate the world to their liking.
Unlike many books with similar concepts, this isn’t an uplifting story of wish fulfillment and overcoming adversity. The characters are undeniably human and manage to overcome the sort of “nerdy teenager gains superpowers” cliche that you might expect at first. I found it to be a genuinely interesting, and occasionally troubling, look at what it really means to be offered everything you ever thought you wanted. The outline of the story is familiar, but the execution is beyond excellent.