keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Wolf Who Rules
by Wen Spencer
470 pages (paperback)
Genre: Fiction/SF/Romance

The sequel to Tinker. I've been in a brain-rut lately and looking desperately for quick, mindless, de-stressing reads, so when Wolf Who Rules unexpectedly came in at the library I decided to move it to the head of the queue. I had trouble being engaged in the beginning, like with Tinker, but once it got started I was happy to let myself be swept along in the romance. (Exhaustion==shallow taste, pour moi.) Windwolf's POV is less interesting than Tinker's, but it did give me a deeper look at elven culture. I like how Spencer developed it along different-than-usual lines, with the oni and tengu and non-white characters. Japanese mythology isn't really my thing in fiction, but it worked here. And urban scifantasy isn't exactly to my taste either, but this worked. Why, I have no idea, and I do apologize for this post being so rambling and opinionated. I'm not up to any sort of meaningful analysis; but, I do want to record my thoughts.

The prose here is still nothing special, but it does its job. I had a few moments of questioning the Tinker/Windwolf relationship because of comments that Windwolf made to himself--why did he fall in love with Tinker? And (SPOILER) I figured out the polygamy hints way before Tinker did, though she's supposed to be the genius. The secondary characters were also memorable, to the point where I perhaps love them more than the hero/heroine--Pony and Stormsong especially.

Recommended to SF-romance fans; if you liked Tinker, this sequel should be satisfying.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
A Brother's Price
by Wen Spencer
310 pages (paperback)
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Fantasy

The first time I read this novel, I sped through and couldn't stop raving about it. I'm still kicking myself for forgetting to nominate it for Yuletide this year, but on a reread, I was able to pick out a few of its flaws. While I love the polyamory and gender reversal, both are a bit implausible. Society develops along many of the same lines, though one would think that with such a gender imbalance, there would be more differences. And could Jerin really fall in love with Ren in a week, or with her four sisters after meeting them briefly a few times?

Regardless, however, the romance is compelling and an original twist on Regency archetypes. Ignore the utterly sexist and unrepresentative cover.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
by Wen Spencer ([profile] wen_spencer)
340 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/SF

At first I only read the first two pages and put it down, because it felt very much like weird urban fantasy-SF and didn't seem like my kind of thing. But one night I was bored and in the mood for a romance, and I remembered an Alphan recommending this book for the romance, so I flipped to somewhere in the middle and started reading.

Wow, that was a long sentence. Anyway, it hooked me. I read to the end and then went back and read the beginning, and it suddenly seemed a lot more dynamic. Because I was already invested in the characters--Tinker and Windwolf especially--so I cared. The beginning takes a while to establish that this is a fantasy-cyberpunk romance, so it came close to losing me because I don't much like cyberpunk. Or anything-punk, actually, because mannerpunk is fantasy of manners, damnit.

Only side-effect of reading way in the wrong order: I didn't like Riki very much. But I loved Tinker's real name, especially the scene with the NSA agents. And the elves were cool, though their names grated on my nerves sometimes.

The cover, by the way, is hideous. Ignore it; not the author's fault.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
A Brother's Price
by Wen Spencer ([profile] wen_spencer)
310 pages (paperback)
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

What an amazing book! I wouldn't have stumbled upon it at all if Wen Spencer had not been an Alpha guest author this year. I started reading the first page in the car coming home from the library, and I didn't put it down until the last page at 9PM.

The story is set in a plausibly matriarchal society, a world dominated by women where the rare boy is treasured--and also valued property, to be sold for a brother's price or swapped for his sisters' new husband. Polygamy is necessarily highlighted, and everything clicks together. And this novel is strikingly similar to my own WIP. I admit that I skimmed the descriptions in my hurry to continue reading the plot, but that's just a personal bad habit. The worldbuilding is beyond excellent, and although I caught the foreshadowing early on and guessed the two most important plot twists, I was still desperate to keep reading. When everything resolves, I cheer because Jerin has earned the ending.

I also love the Whistler family, though I wish their neighbors the Brindles were more developed. Just the world premise--matriarchal society, successful polygamy--would have led me to read this novel; compelling characters, intriguing plot, and realistic worldbuilding is like whipped cream on top of a mango tart. (Make that whipped cream and freshly picked peaches.)

A Brother's Price is going on my favorites and buy list--the latter is extremely selective. Needless to say, recommended to everyone and their brother (bad pun intended) with special emphasis for aspiring fantasy writers and anyone interested in feminism. When I meet Ms. Spencer next month, I'll (hopefully work up the courage to) ask her two things: one, her signature on my copy of the book; two, could she possibly consider writing a sequel about Eldie, or anything else set in the same world? Pretty please?

ETA: People seem to either love or hate this book. Or somewhere in between. For perspective:
- nonspoilery review on whileaway
- spoilery review by the same person as above
- [profile] inkylj's review
- [profile] lpsmith's review


keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)

January 2011



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