BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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On Literary Discoveries, 2014 Edition


Welcome to the 2014 edition of BookMusings' Literary Discoveries! *insert much tooting of horns and throwing of confetti here* Looking back over my LibraryThing account and my postings here on PaganSquare, as well as at Eternal Haunted Summer, this has been quite a year for good literature. Not only did I find many new books and series to enjoy, and recommend to others, but I discovered entirely new authors.

This past year, for example, I discovered the awesome talents that are Ilona Andrews, Katherine Bayless, Annie Bellet, Lindsey Buroker, Meghan Ciana Doidge, and SM Reine. Andrews (actually a husband-and-wife writing team) specializes in urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Burn For Me stands out among Andrews' work, in my estimation, but the fantasy-science fiction mash-up Clean Sweep, the mythical science fiction short story The Questing Beast, and the magical romance On the Edge are lots of fun, too.

Katherine Bayless is a fairly new author, with only three books under her belt. I have to say, though, that Deadly Remains is a polished, confidant urban fantasy/mystery. The world-building is detailed, without being overwhelming; Lire Devon is an intelligent heroine; and Red the teddy bear is unique combination of adorable and terrifying.

Annie Bellet has quite a few short stories, anthologies, and novels to her name; I'm really not sure how it took me so long to find her. I discovered her thanks to the Nine By Night collection, which included her novel, Justice Calling. A geeky gamer Native American sorceress who owns a comic book store? Sold! Since then, I have downloaded and thoroughly enjoyed Delivering Yaehala, Flashpoint, The Scent of Sunlight, and Winter's Bite. Many of her stories are available for free: go get a taste. 

Nine By Night also introduced me to the work of Lindsey Buroker. She hooked me with Torrent, the tale of a wanna-be female Indiana Jones and her Native American partner, who find themselves battling a monster straight out of Norse mythology alongside beings who might be elves -- or maybe not. I have the next book in that series on my nook, ready to go, and her Roman Empire-based steampunk series The Emperor's Edge is on my To Read list.

Meghan Ciana Doidge tempted me by offering the first book in her Dowser series for free. I bit, and found it just as tasty and addictive as the cupcake on the cover. Doidge is very good at misleading the reader. Just when I thought that I had Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic figured out, it took a hard turn left, then right, then left again. The same thing happened with the second book ... and I imagine that will be the same case with the third .... 

Nine by Night can also be blamed for introducing me to the works of SM Reine. I've posted before that I get seriously tired of the fact that urban fantasies seem to use the same pseudo-Christian cosmology over and over again. Reine does not fall into that camp. Her cosmology may be loosely Christian, but she offers her own unique spin on it. In the world of Preternatural Affairs, magic is real, but hidden from most of the world. Cesar Hawke is a third-level witch and a paper pusher who suddenly finds himself out in the field, facing down much more powerful witches, demons, nightmares, ghouls, a teenage dark priestess, and a cult of werewolves obsessed with freeing Adam from his prison in Eden. Fun times. 

In addition to the talented authors above, other literary discoveries of the year include Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood. I was already a fan of the television adaptation of Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mysteries. When I found out that she had another, modern-day series, I decided to give the first book a try. Baker heroine with yummy recipes included? Check. Hunky, mysterious hero who loves the heroine's full figure? Check. Witch best friend? Check. Apartment in a faux Roman villa with each apartment named after a different Deity? Check. Strange deaths and a hidden villain who must be brought to justice? Check. Put me down for the next book.

Eye of Odin by Dennis Staginnus has not actually been released yet. Instead, Staginnus has published two teaser prequels: Double Cross and Fated. I love the world-building: here, every mythology, every Folklore, is real, and exists parallel to the mundane world. Teen witch Sarah Finn is responsible for keeping the peace between the Folklores, while also keeping the supernaturals safe from hostile mundanes such as the Inquisition. Life is exciting, dangerous, and magical -- and Sarah wouldn't have it any other way. 

Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke is a wondrous, sweet, and imaginative children's book. Now I want a creaking, leaking, rambling old house that sits on the back of a turtle. 

The Llewellyn's Complete Book of .... series includes texts on astrology, magical correspondences, and names. I have all three and I have found them ridiculously useful. Definite musts for any Pagan interested in these topics, and any writer at all interested in fantasy, magical realism, and even science fiction.

Another must for any writer's personal library: A Poet's Glossary by Edward Hirsch. A massive volume, weighing in at over seven hundred pages, it is one poet's history and examination of the art and its greatest talents. I found myself highlighting one entry after another: writers whose work I wanted to track down, ideas for stories, poetic styles that I want to try (and have tried, though how well is subjective). 

The Sheerspace series by Jessa Slade (currently standing at three books) is one of the best science fiction romances out there. I wish more people knew about her books. The first, Queen of Starlight, is sort of The Magnificent Seven meets Star Wars. The second, Prince of Passion, centers around a virginal concubine and the mermaid queen of an ocean world. The third, Assassin's Hunger, focuses on protagonists who should be unlikeable (an honorless mercenary and female killer cyborg), but who soon prove to be utterly compelling and sympathetic. I'm chomping at the bit waiting for the next volume. 

For a very different kind of science fiction, there is Star's Reach by John Michael Greer. Set four hundred years after the collapse of civilization as we know it, Star's Reach is both an epic quest and a deeply philosophical examination of what it means to be human and to live on this Earth. 

Finally, there is The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney. A Pharaoh in her own right, Hatshepsut has long been one of my personal heroines: she was a woman both of her time, and ahead of it, carving out a unique position for herself within the patriarchal power structure of ancient Egypt. In Cooney's text, Hatshepsut is not just a woman of extraordinary intelligence and ambition, but also a devout polytheist. It is her devotion to Amun -- transcendent, self-created God of order and law and justice -- which is the foundation stone of her rise to power.

So, there you have them: my literary discoveries of 2014. Go, read. And, while you're at it, draw up a list of your own; I need new books to read in 2015. 


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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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