Does this count as a Once Upon a Time read? There are hints of other-worldiness, with ‘evidence’ of fairies when policeman Walsmear brings photographer Charles Castle photographs of fairies. Castle becomes completely convinced that those smears around the photographs are indeed fairies and heads to the garden to photograph the fairies for himself. Arthur Conan Doyle makes an appearance.
And based on that alone, it sounds like a fantastic read, doesn’t it? I was all ooh, Doyle and fairies!
But bah. It wasn’t. It started out fine enough but once Castle heads to the little village of Burkinwell to find the fairies, things just get too bizarre. Not in the otherworld-ly sense, which would have made for at least an interesting sort of bizarre. But in the human sense, where Castle meets the vicar’s wife and falls in with some gypsies and just drinks far too much. I’m kind of surprised I stuck with it, but I guess since the book opens with Castle telling his tale from prison, I wanted to find out what he was incarcerated for. So Steve Szilagui got me there. And I wasn’t the only one, as Photographing Fairies was shortlisted for the 1993 World Fantasy Awards and was even turned into a film starring Ben Kingsley.
“But once there were only three, most powerful and glorious of all: the god of day, the god of night, and the goddess of twilight and dawn.Or light and darkness and the shades between. Or order, chaos, and balance. None of that is important because one of them died, the other might as well have, and the last is the only one who matters anymore.”
And it was with a little sigh of satisfaction and a sense of fullness (but not to the point of being overstuffed) that I finished this book.
Perhaps there was a feeling of relief too. Because it had lived up to my expectations. And oh, were my expectations high. Largely because of Eva’s review and her link to this article in Salon. Plus the fact that it won the 2011 Locus Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Crawford, Gemmell, Tiptree and World Fantasy awards.
I love going into a book, especially fantasy and SF, not knowing much about it. And what a ride this was. But perhaps you might need a tidbit. This is a world of gods and mortals, and features an incredible character in Yeine who comes from a matriarchal warrior tribe and who is named heir to the hundred thousand kingdoms.
“I am short and flat and brown as forestwood, and my hair is a curled mess. Because I find it unmanageable otherwise, I wear it short. I am sometimes mistaken for a boy.”
And as we discover the city of Sky and the Arameri society with her, we realise just how strong and yet so very likeable she is.
A fantastic read.
Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the first book of the Inheritance Trilogy, but it works fine as a standalone read. Broken Kingdoms and The Kingdom of Gods make up the rest of the series.
The Once Upon a Time challenge has been around for six years but this is the first time I’ll be taking part! I’m not sure now why I’ve taken so long to jump in the fray but ah well, here I am, head first.
Ok so maybe it’s just an excuse to come up with yet another list of books!
The challenge runs from March 21 – June 19 and the rules are:
Rule #1: Have fun.
Rule #2: HAVE FUN.
Rule #3: Don’t keep the fun to yourself, share it with us, please!
Rule #4: Do not be put off by the word “challenge”.
Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld – Patricia A. McKillip
Tooth and Claw – Jo Walton
Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
Under Heaven – Guy Gavriel Kay
The lions of Al-Rassan – Guy Gavriel Kay
A Princess of Roumania – Paul Park
Song of Kali – Dan Simmons
The Little Country – Charles de Lint
Photographing Fairies – Steve Szilagyi
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms – N. K. Jemisin
Peter & Max : a Fables novel – Bill Willingham
Black thorn, white rose – edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
Btw, in case you’re looking for some fairy tale-related suggestions, here’s an interesting list based on the Cinderella tale.
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld – Patricia McKillip
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms – N.K. Jemisin
Photographing Fairies - Steve Szilagyi
The Broken Kingdoms – N.K. Jemisin
Beauty – Sherri S. Tepper