Book Review: An Unseen Attraction, by KJ Charles

Title: An Unseen Attraction
Author: KJ Charles
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: February 21, 2017 
The Breakfast Octopus’ rating: A

Thanks to Loveswept for this review copy!

Blurb:

Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He’s happy with his hobbies, his work—and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship. . . .

Rowley just wants to be left alone—at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding . . . it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered.

Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they’re to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets—and their hearts.

Thoughts:

I’ve read and loved everything that KJ Charles has written, but An Unseen Attraction is a standout. Rowley and Clem are adorable together and separately, while each battles his own demons. I love that Charles intentionally brings in some of the diversity that was absolutely present in Victorian England; it’s too easy to find historical fiction that seems like historical fantasy with no people of color anywhere to be found.

Clem has a disability is handled respectfully, without seeming like shorthand for anything else, and without trying to be just another way to distinguish someone. The conflict and mystery central to the story keep things moving along, and I can’t wait to see the continuation of the story in the next book.

As a point of interest, my mind’s eye kept trying to paint Rowley as the half-Indian, half-white character, and Clem as the white guy. I can’t tell why, exactly, but it makes me want to examine my own ideas of race a little more closely.

An Unseen Attraction is out now from Loveswept and will be followed in June by An Unnatural Vice. If you can, get the Audible version of An Unseen Attraction as well- Matthew Lloyd Davies’ voice is divine!

Book Review: Goldenhand, by Garth Nix

Title: Goldenhand
Author: Garth Nix
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: October 4, 2016
The Breakfast Octopus’ rating: B-

Blurb:

Goldenhand takes place six months after the events of Abhorsen and follows the novella Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case, which is featured in Across the Wall.

Lirael lost one of her hands in the binding of Orannis, but now she has a new hand, one of gilded steel and Charter Magic. On a dangerous journey, Lirael returns to her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier, where she was once a Second Assistant Librarian. There, a young woman from the distant North brings her a message from her long-dead mother, Arielle. It is a warning about the Witch with No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning? Lirael must use her new powers to save the Old Kingdom from this great danger—and it must be forestalled not only in the living world but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.

Thoughts:

Sabriel and Lirael, the predecessors to Goldenhand, were two of my favorite books when I was growing up.  I loved the juxtaposition of the magic-filled Old Kingdom and the England equivalent called Ancelstierre.  Sabriel and Lirael followed young women as they grew into their power and adulthood while combatting ancient evil. Lirael’s story in particular drew me; the idea of a library as a place of dangerous objects and potential knowledge dovetails nicely into what I think a library should be.

I was therefore disappointed in GoldenhandAlthough I enjoyed following up with my favorite characters, I felt that it was too neatly wrapped up. Characters that should have been dead were revived, which for me ruined their previous departures. And I thought a lot of the moral ambiguity was sucked out of the story; Sabriel dealt with her necromantic urges and the thin line between good acts and evil ones, while Goldenhand characters are all either good or evil, with no moral shading.

I also thought the description suffered: to me, the book read more like someone was giving me a summary of what happened in the book, rather than drawing me into the plot.  That said, I’m always happy to hear what my favorite characters are up to, so I’ll read any following books as well.

Goldenhand is available now from Harper Collins wherever books are sold.