Novella Reviews: Of Sorrow and Such & Lustlocked
Review copies were provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Tor.com (October 13, 2016)
Length: 149 pages
This is the first time I’ve read Angela Slatter, and now she’s gained herself another fan. Of Sorrow and Such is probably my favorite Tor.com novella of the ones I’ve read so far, a compact little tale that packs no small amount of emotional punch in spite of its length.
In a small fictional village in a world reminiscent of Europe in the Middle Ages lives a witch called Mistress Patience Gideon. Ostensibly, she’s just a local healer eking out a simple yet comfortable life taking care of the village’s sick and injured, but in truth Patience possesses power magic that she must keep hidden lest her secrets are discovered by the church and she is burned at the stake.
On the surface, this story might strike a familiar chord, but in time a rich complexity emerges. Of Sorrow and Such is beautifully told, with an attention to detail that often get overlooked in shorter works. I was really impressed with the depth of feeling and the intense atmosphere that came through in Slatter’s simple but elegant writing, which has this way of stripping away all the chaff to get to the raw core of what really matters. As a result, there’s almost no slowing down in Patience Gideon’s tale. We have plenty of suspense, though perhaps not in a traditional sense; rather, Slatter’s plotting is just so tight that almost every scene is charged with a strong feeling of involvement and agency.
That said, there’s also just the right amount of emotion to give this story a life of its own. I adored its themes of love and hatred, loyalty and betrayal, and of the deep yearning for things that can destroy you. It’s about the sacrificing something important to you for a cause greater for yourself, and it’s about the courage and the strength of a woman who will not be cowed. The characters in this novella are vividly drawn, showing the multi-faceted nature of both protagonists and villains. Patience feels genuine to the reader, the kind of person who is capable of great kindness, but within her also lies a terrible wrath one would do well not to underestimate.
This is just overall a wonderful story featuring great female characters and some very interesting relationships between them. Throw in Slatter’s delectable writing and a setting permeated with atmosphere and magic, and you have yourself a winner in your hands. I’m really pleased with how well it all came together. Highly recommended.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book 2 of Sin du Jour
Publisher: Tor.com (January 26, 2016)
Length: 224 pages
After the rip-roaring fun of Envy of Angels, I just couldn’t wait to be back in Bronko’s kitchen with all the gang. This time, things are really heating up as Matt Wallace serves up another course of humor-laden fare in Lustlocked, the second novella in the Sin du Jour series.
Having proved themselves on their first job, Lena and Darren are subsequently offered full-time employment by executive chef Byron “Bronko” Luck. Now all they have to do is survive the probationary period, which isn’t as easy as it sounds, given the unusual nature of the catering company at which they work. Sure enough, no sooner have the junior chefs signed their names to the contract than Sin du Jour receives their next big gig—a goblin royal wedding.
Unlike the mischievous, ugly and stooped creatures of folklore, Matt Wallace’s goblins are actually beautiful and talented beings, which explains why so many of them have found success in Hollywood and the music industry. It’s a star-studded night as all the goblin guests show up to the celebrations, excited to see their prince tie the knot with a human woman. As usual though, nothing at Sin du Jour ever goes as planned, and before long, giant lusty lizards are running amok through the wedding party, trying to have sex with everyone and everything. Let this one be a cautionary tale for us all: magic and love don’t always mix.
Like the previous book, Lustlocked is another rollicking romp into the culinary world, urban fantasy style. Once again, our characters are thrown into the zaniest and most absurd situations you can think of, playing up the action and the laughs. Compared to the Envy of Angels though, the plot feels much simpler and less adroit, giving this sequel novella a throw-away vibe which leads me to believe that it won’t stay with me as long. That said, I still had a great time with the story, which is no less entertaining for being shorter and less complex.
In fact, pacing is helped by the narrower focus, and we also don’t jump around as much following multiple groups of characters in different places. While Envy of Angels featured several side plots starring the Sin du Jour’s stocking and receiving department, the adventures of Ritter, Cindy, Hara and Moon are more integrated in Lustlocked. Fans of this unforgettable foursome need not fret though, for Matt Wallace makes it up to us by including a bonus story called Small Wars at the end of this novella. This was a free short published at the Tor.com website, revealing the origins of the team by explaining how they were all recruited and brought together by Ritter.
If a couple hours with a bite-sized, light-hearted urban fantasy novella sounds like a good time to you, then you need to check out the Sin du Jour series. Already I am excited for the next book Pride’s Spell, which promises to be even more wild and bizarre. At this point, anything can happen…and you can bet I’m looking forward to the insanity.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Envy of Angels (Book 1)