Kaleidoscope edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios – review

This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2014 Reading Challenge. All my 2014 AWWC reviews can be found here.


OK, I’m cheating a little bit here. I’ve decided to review a collection of short stories that are not all by Australian women for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014. Indeed, they are mostly not by Australian women. But wait, before you throw your monitor at the wall in disgust and walk out I have reasons.

  1. It is from an Australian small press that is run by a woman (Alisa Krasnostein).
  2. It has stories by three Australian women (Tansy Rayner Roberts, Faith Mudge, Holly Kench) and one New Zealander (Karen Healy), which is almost Australian.
  3. One of the editors is an Australian woman. OK, it’s the same woman as in 1. above, but in a completely different role. Editor versus publisher. Come on, it still counts as a third reason.

So, if you’re still not buying what I’m selling, then you should stop reading the review here. But you’ll be sooorrrryyyyy!

Kaleidoscope was a crowd funded anthology that sought out YA speculative fiction that was written by a diverse range of writers and featured diverse characters (e.g. people with a disability, mental illness, suffering marginalisation because of race or religion or sexual orientation etc). However the mandate of the book was very clear – while characters needed to have a diverse background, they were not to be defined by their background. I particularly liked the requirement that characters were not to be “cured” of their diversity. Kaleidoscope is a mature treatment of the issues of diversity in the speculative fiction scene, and for that alone I’m hoping it is a sign of much more diverse fiction to come.

(As a side note, and because I’ve justified this review in part by pointing at an Australian small press run by an Australian woman, I might insert a plug here for Twelfth Planet Press. TPP has been supporting Australian women authors and championing this kind of diversity for quite a few years. Alisa Krasnostein, the owner of the press, is also one of the voices on Galactic Suburbia – a must-listen podcast for anyone interested in advancing the conversation on gender equity in the speculative fiction scene. If you haven’t already, go and check out their offerings, in particular the Twelve Planets series which has showcased some fantastic Australian women writers over the last few years. I’ve reviewed all the Twelve Planets books so far for the AWW challenge (including most recently Secret Lives by Rosaleen Love) – if you have even the slightest interest in understanding what is happening in the Australian speculative fiction field, you need to read these books!)

I won’t talk about all the stories, but as this is a AWW review I will briefly mention the stories by Australian women.

Cookie Cutter Superhero by Tansy Rayner Roberts opens the collection. The story is set in a world where superhero producing machines have appeared in  major centres around the world and people are selected at random to do a stint as a superhero. It tells the story of Joey, a young woman with a physical disability who has “won the lottery”. It is a funny, and not very below the surface, dig at the comic book industry, well written with Roberts’ trademark snarky style. Very nice opening to the book.

Signature by Faith Mudge was one of my favourite stories in the book, which focuses on the dangers of entering into a deal with Fate. Well written and characters that were well fleshed out, especially considering how little space there was to do it.

Holly Kench’s Every Little Thing gives a few twists on the trickiness of love spells. I enjoy Kench’s writing style, and this story was well constructed and a delight to read.

And for completeness, I will mention that I also enjoyed New Zealand’s Karen Healy story Careful Magic, which focuses on the perils of being a bastion of order in a chaotic world. Healy’s story hinted at a much bigger world, and left me with the desire to read other stories set in the same world.

There are also stories by Australian male writers Garth Nix, Dirk Flinthart and Sean Williams, as well as an array of international authors including Ken Liu, Sofia Samata, Jim Hines and John Chu.

As long term readers of the blog know, YA is not my favourite genre to read. I don’t mind young protagonists as such, but as I complete my transformation into a cranky old man I find myself less and less engaged by some of the themes that seem to resonate with teenagers. I also find the more restricted use of language (i.e. slightly simplified and “cleaned up”) creates more of a distance in the work. Some of the stories in Kaleidoscope suffered from this for me – the writing was excellent, but I found myself unable to “get into” the stories.

That minor (and particular to me) quibble aside, this is an excellent anthology and I commend it strongly to you. If you have ever despaired at the lack of variety in who is represented in speculative fiction, this is the book for you. If you love YA oriented speculative fiction, this is for you. Highly recommended.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.

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Musketeer Space by Tansy Rayner Roberts – review

This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2014 Reading Challenge. All my 2014 AWWC reviews can be found here.

Musketeer Space

OK, more cheating. I’ve selected Musketeer Space by Tansy Rayner Roberts for my next review and the book isn’t even finished yet. “Why?” I hear you ask. “How? Isn’t your cheating just getting super blatant now?”

All valid questions, but stick with me people. Have I ever steered you wrong?

Musketeer Space is the latest endeavour by Tasmanian based speculative fiction author Tansy Rayner Roberts. It is a gender swapped retelling of The Three Musketeers, in a space opera setting. In an interesting twist though, Roberts is writing the book in serialised form. She is releasing a chapter each week on her website, and has invited patronage through the Patreon system, where interested subscribers can pay to support her writing efforts. There are also a variety of perks depending on the level of subscription that you enter into (including an eBook of the whole novel once completed).

So a book you can read for free, but if you want to tip some money in you can also consider (and call) yourself a patron of the arts. What’s not to like?

At the time of writing, Musketeer Space is at chapter 33 and a little over half way through the story. One of the reasons I wanted to review it at this point was to signal boost an endeavour which is interesting both creatively and from a business standpoint. I’m fascinated with how people are experimenting with new forms of publishing in the internet age, and this is a great case study to follow.

A note on the Patreon model. It very much is a patronage relationship you’re entering into. For an effort like this that goes for at least 12 months, even at the lowest contribution of $1 per month you would be over-paying for an eBook if that was your only goal (I don’t know how much Roberts will charge for the eBook at the end of the process, but I very much doubt it will be $12). So unlike something like a Kickstarter campaign, you are not “pre-purchasing” the final product. You are making a conscious decision to support an author create a work that wouldn’t other exist – very much like patrons of a bygone age, just distributed through the power of technology.

To the story itself. The prose is characterised by Roberts’ sly wit, and filled with feisty, brave and competent characters. It has been very interesting to watch Roberts adapt the original storyline, and the choices she has made to accommodate both the new setting and new genders. The Three Musketeers was originally a serialised novel as well, and the parallels have been interesting to watch there too.

There is a lot of humour in the book, and if you enjoyed any of Roberts’ other books (e.g. The Creature Court trilogy) you’ll love Musketeer Space.

The pacing is excellent, especially considering the need to stick to the overall structure of the original text. Roberts balances action with emotion in the stories, and has created some very well rounded characters that it is very easy to care about.

As a part of meeting one of the targets of her Patreon campaign, Roberts has recently (as of Christmas 2014) released a novella length Christmas themed prequel to Musketeer Space called Seven Days of Joyeux. I haven’t read it yet, but extra content is just another reason to get on board this Musketeer road train!

In summary, this is a great book that is supported by an innovative funding mechanism. I’d highly recommend that you all go directly to the Patreon page and throw your support behind an Australian author doing interesting things in this brave new age of the internet.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads (although a cut down version of this review without the Patreon discussion). View all my Goodreads reviews.

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Monthly Round Up – July 2014

Not a lot read through the month of July. I’m afraid family, work and writing are combining to chew up a lot of my free time. I recently discovered that some fine folk had ported the old D&D games Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II onto the iPad, and they have sucked away what little time I have left.

I did however finish Auxiliary Justice by Anne Leckie. I enjoyed the book – good solid space opera with an engaging protagonist and interesting concepts around ship consciousness when spread across multiple “individuals” and a society where gender is irrelevant to the point where the protagonist thinks of everyone as “she”. A lot has been written about Auxiliary Justice and I’ve decided that I can add precisely zero to the debate, so I’ll leave it there. Worth a read if you’re into space opera.

I also finished Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier, however I’m writing up a review for the Australian Women Writers Challenge so I won’t give away any thoughts here.

As reported earlier, I’m also reading the serial novel Musketeer Space by Tansy Rayner Roberts. A lot of fun so far, and I’ve also been enjoying the ecosystem she has been creating around the novel. As at the time of writing I’ve finished chapter 9 and am a couple of chapters behind.

My six year old daughter and I watched Star Wars for the first time (episode four) and that has given me a bit of Star Wars nostalgia. I’ve dipped into and out of into the Star Wars novels since they first started coming out, and in honour of my daughter’s first step into the universe I’ve decided to dip into a sequence of Star Wars novels I have yet read – the Fate of the Jedi. The series kicks off with a novel called Outcast  by Aaron Allston. Previous forays into the Star Wars novel universe have met with mixed results, it’ll be interesting to see how this goes.

By the way, my daughter’s verdict on Star Wars? “It’s good. I particularly like Princess Leia’s hair.”

On the podcast side of things, I’ve been rapidly running through the back catalog of Tea and Jeopardy by Emma Newman. An interesting SF interview show out of the UK, that adds a little radio play style bit before and after the main interview, in which the interviewee is put into (and often escapes) a spot of mild peril. I’m really enjoying it, and there is a certain sense of continuity that is keeping me listening to the episodes in order. I’m almost caught up!

I thought I’d mention TV here as well, if there is anything of interest. Main genre TV watching for me at the moment is Continuum (the Canadian SF series about a time travelling cop from the future and the group of terrorists she’s chased back to our time). This season has been good – I’ve particularly liked the greying of the lines between “good guy” and “bad guy”.

I’ve also been watching the first few episodes of season 2 of Defiance, which has been suitably interesting. More on that in future months.

The Tomorrow People is heading towards the season (and series) finale. I think the show had some potential, but I can understand why it got axed – it wasn’t quite hitting that potential.

Looking forward to the launch of BBC First on Foxtel where they are giving us all 10 episodes of Musketeers, which looks very good from the previews.

I’ve recorded the first couple of episodes of The Strain as well, but I’m as yet undecided as to whether I’ll be watching.

That’s all for this month. What have you been reading/listening to/watching? Any suggestions?

Patronising Musketeer Space

Wait, maybe that isn’t the greatest title for this post. Oh well, I’ve typed it now. Editing three words seems like a lot of work.

I have become a patron of the arts! Well, of an art. “How did this happen?” I hear you ask. No, no – too late. You’re committed to hearing an answer now.

As Jeeves (*) was driving me down to the Opera House to smoke cigars and laugh at student protestors with my wealthy mates, it occurred to me that with my fabulous riches came the obligation to be seen to support the arts. Of course I don’t want to actually hang around with creative types. Bohemian grungy plebs with their dreadlocks and their communism. No, I was delicately balanced on the horns of a dilemma. How did I maintain my social status by being able to talk about the “worthy” causes I supported, without actually touching any of the people involved in them?

Jeeves pointed out that the Internet was handy for the whole not-actually-physically-interacting thing. After I had him roundly whipped for speaking to his betters without permission, I had a sudden thought. It occurred to me that the Internet is handy for the whole not-actually-physically-interacting thing. So I sought out causes whose worth I could talk about and donate to without actually meeting any of the artists.

And that was how I came across Musketeer Space, an initiative by Tasmanian writer Tansy Rayner Roberts.

To quote from the artist herself:

Musketeer Space is a (mostly) gender-swapped retelling of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, one of my favourite all time books, as a space opera. The gender-swapping aspect is part of the experiment – I wanted to challenge some of my own preconceptions about gender and narrative, and taking a classic novel apart like this is a fun way to do it. Plus I love space opera, the kind with heightened drama and romance, and I think there’s nothing wrong with mashing up spaceships with swashbuckle.

Roberts will be publishing one chapter a week of this interesting sounding book, and the first chapter is now online on her website. She also gives an update on the experience of using Patreon to gather ongoing funding.

I highly enjoyed the first chapter and decided to dip my toe in the waters of patronising by pledging a monthly amount. There are some interesting advantages in pledging at higher levels, and while I don’t need a fictional spaceship named after me (my membership of a nameless secret society dedicated to maintaining clandestine contact with our alien overlords means I have an actual spaceship named after me), the idea of getting extra information from the author in the form of a regular newsletter certainly appealed.

So if you, like me, yearn to add “Patron of the Arts” to your resume, why not head over to the Musketeer Space Patreon page and get involved.


(*) of course it would be a wild coincidence if someone called Jeeves actually decided to become a butler/driver. So wild that I won’t insult your intelligence by pretending that is actually what happened. I made him change his name when he came into my service of course.

A Trifle Dead by Livia Day – review

This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2013 Reading Challenge. All my 2013 AWWC reviews can be found here.

A Trifle Dead

I know, I know. I said I’d only review speculative fiction books this year. I extolled the virtues of purity and staying faithful to the one true genre. I disparaged my own ability read anything else. And now I’m reviewing a crime novel.

I can hear what you’re all thinking. “Where are your ideals now, Webb?”, “So much for your love of speculative fiction, you’ll just wander around after any old book as long as it has a dessert on the cover won’t you?”

These are all well reasoned and valid criticisms, for which I have only one response, and a fairly poor one at that.


You heard me. (1)

Livia Day is the crime alter-ego of fantasy writer Tansy Rayner Roberts, whose Creature Court trilogy I enjoyed very much. I was interested to see what she’d done with the crime genre (and I’ve also been really liking the work coming out of publisher Twelfth Planet Press recently).

Lets start with what I liked about A Trifle Dead. The writing is enviably tight, with good attention to detail. Pacing was excellent, although overall the book seemed a little long I couldn’t fault the pace of the individual chapters.

I loved the use of Hobart as a character in the book (and I could only think of it as a character). Day does an excellent job conveying the sense of the city, and for those of us on mainland Australia used to thinking of Tasmania as some kind of backwater, it was a real eye opener. I would imagine that the Tasmanian Tourism Board (if such an entity exists) would be promoting the hell out of this book. It made me want to visit (and I didn’t even go to Hobart when good friends were on assignment down there for a few years. I just always assumed they’d prefer to return to civilisation for any catch up, and only saw them when they visited Sydney. I missed an opportunity I think).

But this is where I came a bit unstuck – Hobart was the only character I built any kind of relationship with. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Day’s writing of the characters. I just didn’t like any of them much. The protagonist was a bit irritating, the love interests a bit dull, the best friend a bit meh. There were a couple of minor characters that were vaguely interesting (the protagonist’s house mate for instance), but they were few and far between. I just couldn’t connect.

I found myself rooting for the bad guy, and unless there was a level of plot subtlety that I missed, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to.

Now, I’m not a “foodie” and I don’t usually read crime, so I 100% admit that I am not the target audience here. My wife, for example, is a foodie and does read crime and I have had absolutely no hesitation in recommending the book to her – I think she’ll love it. But for me the characters all seemed a bit… well, if I’m honest, silly.

From that base, things went off track. Because I couldn’t connect with the characters, I didn’t like the dialog, despite it having an excellent level of snark. The plot twists, in as far as they pertained to the main character, didn’t hold any emotional resonance, despite being quite clever.

I won’t labour the point, basically this is a well constructed book that just didn’t hit the mark for me. I still rate it reasonably well, because of the excellence of craft. But it’s not a series I’ll be following on from here (although I suspect my household will end up owning copies if I am any judge of my wife’s tastes).

However, if you love food, you are fond of Tasmania and you’re partial to a bit of crime, ignore my recommendation above and get yourself a copy of A Trifle Dead. And leave me a comment telling me what you think!


(1) OK, I’m not sure of the phonetic representation of a raspberry. That’s going to have to do. I’m sure you got the general idea.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.

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Reign of Beasts by Tansy Rayner Roberts – review

This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading Challenge. All my AWWC reviews can be found here.

Reign of Beasts by Tansy Rayner Roberts is the final book in her Creature Court trilogy. I’ve reviewed the previous two books elsewhere on this site (here for Power and Majesty and here for The Shattered City). To be honest I’ve been putting off this review for a bit – not because I didn’t enjoy the book (I did) but mainly because I’m finding it hard to come up with anything fresh to say about the third book in a trilogy.

Once again, I won’t give much of a plot synopsis for fear of spoiling this or the earlier books. From the Goodreads description – “The Creature Court are at war with each other. Three kings fight bitterly for power and dominance over Aufleur and the streets run red with blood.”

That about sums it up.

Reign of Beasts seemed more plot driven than character driven. There wasn’t as much sense of the characters developing or evolving as in the previous books, more reacting to circumstances in order to bring the overarching story to a conclusion. The conclusion itself was satisfying, with most of the questions raised throughout the series answered.

The one exception to the lack of character development was the threading of Poet’s back story throughout the book. These sections were very effective, even though the reader has seen how Poet turns out, his journey was very interesting and fleshed out some of the history of the Creature Court itself.

The previous books focused on the one city – Aufleur, with very little exploration of the world outside the city. Reign of Beasts has an expanded sense of place, with the city of Bazeppe featuring much more strongly. This broader landscape strengthened the story, providing a heightened sense of urgency as the consequences of failure increased.

The writing is very tight, with a good balance of drama and humour. The dialogue was particularly effective – the interplay between some of the minor characters was very entertaining. In fact, the minor characters somewhat stole the show generally, I found myself much more invested in them than some of the more major characters.

This book has lots of raunch. I mean lots. But then, if you didn’t like a bit of raunch in your reading diet I suspect you wouldn’t have got this far through the trilogy. So what are you complaining about?

I thought so.

Overall I found this a very satisfying end to the trilogy. Highly recommended.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.

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The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts – review

This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading Challenge. All my AWWC reviews can be found here.

The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts is book two of the Creature Court trilogy. I reviewed book one (Power and Majesty) a few months ago.

The Shattered City picks up where Power and Majesty leaves off. I’m finding that it is a bit hard to give any kind of plot synopsis of book two of a trilogy without giving away information about book one. Suffice to say that the main character Velody has to navigate the complicated politics of the Creature Court and find out more about the enemy they are fighting against.

The first half of the book builds the tension about the as-yet-unseen enemy, demonstrating an intelligence behind the seemingly directionless attacks from the sky. Interestingly the last part of the book doesn’t really focus on the external enemy at all, bringing the focus back to the internal machinations of the Creature Court. In many fantasy trilogies, tension is built by increasing the scale of the world visible to the reader (thereby raising the stakes). The Shattered City doesn’t do this, rather it keeps the focus on a single city and builds tension through the personal interactions of the characters. It is an interesting technique.

It could be that my recollection of the first book has dimmed slightly over the months, but The Shattered City seems to have a fair bit more raunchy behaviour in it. It seems like well executed raunchy behaviour descriptive text to me, so if you like your novels steamy that aspect may appeal.

The book focuses on a wider array of characters and gives them more depth, particularly Velody’s companions Delphine and Rhian. This helps to give the series a more complete feeling, and I enjoyed getting to know more characters in more detail.

As a consequence of this, there is a lot more point of view swapping in this novel. It is handled well, I never felt confused about whose eyes I was seeing the story through which is impressive considering how often perspective is switched.

There was a lot less focus on the day jobs of the main characters (dress making etc), which kept the focus on the supernatural elements of the story and effectively highlighted the characters drifting away from the “real” world. Where professions were referenced, it usually had the effect of grounding the characters amidst the fantastic.

Like other work by Ms Roberts, the writing is very strong with vivid descriptions and fast, punchy dialogue.

Overall this is a strong work and upon finishing it, when my Kindle automatically brought up a screen giving me an option to buy and download the third novel of the trilogy, I pressed the button without any hesitation (I worry about what that particular feature of the Kindle is going to do to my to-be-read pile). Highly recommended.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.

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Power and Majesty by Tansy Rayner Roberts – review

This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading Challenge.

I recently read Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts and liked it a lot. On the strength of that collection I decided to give Ms Roberts latest trilogy a try. Power and Majesty is book one of the Creature Court trilogy, a fantasy series set (going off the map at the front) in an alternate Earth, more specifically in an alternate Italy.

Teenagers Velody, Delphine and Rhian have come to the city of Aufleur (an alternate Rome?) to become an apprentice dressmaker, ribboner and florister respectively. One night Velody sees a young man (Garnet) fall from the sky and land in the street outside. He displays magical abilities and sees in her the ability to use the same magic. Freaking out, Velody agrees to give up her powers and give them to Garnet, then promptly loses her memory of the encounter.

12 years or so later, Garnet dies and Velody suddenly gets her power back. She enters the world of the Creature Court, where powered individuals fight attacks from the sky at night to keep the city safe (the normal citizenry are completely oblivious to both the danger and the Creature Court and indeed seem to spend their days celebrating an almost never ending series of festivals). The Court is a decadent place and the rest of the book describes Velody’s trials and tribulations as she attempts to navigate its somewhat murky waters.

The magic system is very interesting – practitioners are aligned to a particular animal and can split themselves into multiple instances of that animal (although I have to think that splitting your consciousness multiple ways to control your various animal vessels has got to at least involve a headache). The Creature Court is divided into a hierarchy depending on levels of power, with more powerful members having stronger abilities. I liked the way the magic was described and the complex web of interrelationships that make up the Court.

Sometimes the first book in a trilogy works well as a stand alone novel as well. This is not one of those books. It felt very much like the first in a series, and established the major characters without fully introducing the main antagonist (assuming you consider the danger from the sky as the main antagonist). If you considered this as a stand alone book, it would feel a little underdone. As a start of a trilogy it did a good job of whetting my appetite for the rest of the series.

I enjoyed the writing and the characters seemed well realised to me. The dialogue was great and the main characters seemed quite three dimensional. The minor characters were also excellent, with my personal favourite being the Sentinel Macready. The pacing was just about spot on and there was a good balance of violence, vicious politics and romantic elements (although I must say that the cover makes the book look like it is going to be mainly a romance and I wouldn’t describe it that way at all).

As someone with very little interest in the craft/fashion world there were aspects of Velody, Delphine and Rhian’s professional day jobs that were difficult to generate enthusiasm for. I suspect someone with a stronger interest would have got more out of those sections of the book.

The only bit of the story that bothered me a little was that there was a touch of the never-done-martial-arts-before-go-into-the-woods-for-a-week-and-become-a-kung-fu-master-accompanied-by-a-suitable-video-montage in how quickly Velody came into mastery of her powers. Given the painstaking time it took each of the three women to master the skills necessary for them to become successful in their chosen daytime professions, I thought there might be a little more of that ethos in mastering the magic as well. But that is a minor quibble, and at least it did serve to move the story along at a good pace.

(As an aside, I got this novel on the Kindle and there was some weirdness in how it rendered the text. The font size kept jumping around and for most of the book even the smallest font setting on the Kindle had very big text on the screen. But every now and then it would revert to normal for a few pages. I’ve read quite a few books on the Kindle, and this was the first time I’ve seen behaviour like this. Having said that, my Kindle is a couple of generations out of date – perhaps that had something to do with it).

Overall I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. Excellent fantasy generally, and if you particularly like dress making, ribboning and floristry then you’ll like it all the more!

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.

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Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts – review

Love and Romanpunk is one of the Twelve Planets series published by Twelfth Planet Press (made up of 12 boutique collections of stories by Australian writers). It is made up of four shorter stories, including:

  • Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary
  • Lamia Victoriana
  • The Patrician
  • Last of the Romanpunks

The four stories are connected (although thousands of years apart in timeframe and tracing some bizarre family history). I’ve said in other posts that I’m really enjoying the shorter forms of fiction and this book was no exception. It’s hard to tell from the title, so I’ll say immediately that there is a distinctly Roman sensibility to the stories.

The opening story Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary was cleverly written, with the alphabetical listing of the fantastical beasts woven well into the story. Lamia Victoriana moves us forward to the Victorian era. This was probably my least favourite of the four stories, which is praising by faint damnation as I loved all four stories.

The Patrician was my favourite from the book – I loved the concept of a neo-Roman city in the middle of Australian outback and there was enough monster fighting to keep me entertained. I know it has been commented on elsewhere, but thank goodness there is at least one 2,000 year old immortal that doesn’t fancy teenagers.

The faintly steampunk feeling of the last story Last of the Romanpunks was unexpected, but I enjoyed getting some sense of what happened after the events of The Patrician.

Throughout the book, the writing has a good balance of humour and clever dialogue which really appealed to me.

On the strength of this book, I’ve gone ahead and purchased the first in Ms Rayner Roberts’ Creature Court trilogy which I’m looking forward to reading to (when I get to it – my ‘to read’ list is currently very, very long).

If this was indicative of the general quality, I’m looking forward to the rest of the books in the Twelve Planets series.

As an aside I really liked the blurb for this book, which I’ve included below:

The world is in greater danger than you ever suspected. Women named Julia are stronger than they appear. Don’t let your little brother make out with silver-eyed blondes. Immortal heroes really don’t fancy teenage girls. When love dies, there’s still opera. Family is everything. Monsters are everywhere. Yes, you do have to wear the damned toga.

History is not what you think it is.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews