Emma Newman, The Split Worlds (2013)

I like urban fantasy. I’m not a big fan, but I’ve read a couple dozen. The first series I really enjoyed was Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs, recommended to me by Ola. At first I couldn’t get into Dresden Files, but now I preach the genius of Jim Butcher. 2013 was a year when I discovered British urban fantasy. It started with excellent “Courts of the Feyre” series by Mike Shevdon, then I discovered Ben Aaronovitch and his novels about “ethnically challenged” London police officer.

Of course, now that I think about, my first English urban fantasy was “Neverwhere”. Gaiman’s masterpiece I’ve read as a novel and graphic novels, listened to in audio form, and watched a TV mini-series (IMHO the weakest version of the story). It was great…

Another British author I discovered was Emma Newman. Beautiful voice (professional narrator and she has her own podcast, very entertaining “Tea and Jeopardy”, nice short stories available online, great covers:

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Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell (2004)

Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. „I suppose a magician might,” he admitted, „but a gentleman never could.”

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I don’t read books like this one for action. Not even for characters, although some characters in “Jonathan…” are very good. Slow-paced behemoths like that – I read for atmosphere and quotes. It’s a cross of… Dickens, Austen, and a bit of Connie Willis if her all books were the length of the “Doomsday Book”. I’d recommend, probably for the first time, to watch TV show before reading the book – it takes all the action and excitement and condenses it in a relatively short (seven episodes) form. And since action is not the main point of the novel, you can safely reach for the book after that, to savour all the details – the language, the irony, the literary references. And illustrations! Portia Rosenberg did a great job, illustrations look great and match the tone of the novel. I strongly advise to read paper, preferably hardcover version. Leather-bound edition would be perfect, it would look and feel like one of the books of magic we read about in the novel. Maybe Folio Society will get to it 🙂

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