Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Bee's Knees

Petal StormPetal Storm by Paul Kidd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always been a fan of Kidd's writing style, and I own pretty much his entire collection of books - almost all of which are self-published. Kidd certainly makes one appreciate the true glory that can be found in these somewhat quirky, speculative works of fiction - the likes of which your typical publishing house won't touch - not because they're poorly written, but because the concept is just slightly too risky for them to take. Well, their loss.

"Petal Storm" is a story of bees. Rather, anthropormophic bees that ride hornets and live in a very matriachal society. Kidd has carefully captured much of general bee nature and habit here - the bees are led by one female, a queen, and the other workers are all neuter-females - incapable of breeding. The drones largely stay away, except when required to fertilise her many eggs. They behave in a manner that is quite believable if you were ever given a world in which bees were the sentient lifeform. He has also taken careful consideration of things like water droplets, and other such things, that on such a minute scale are rather different from how we humans perceive them.

Around this exciting and original premise, he has spun a story of manipulation and politics - of a Hive with not only one Queen, but two princesses, an unheard of situation. The two princesses are set on destroying each other, so that one can take the throne when their mother dies - as is the bee way, but events are conspiring that might make traditions have to change. The main characters - most of them neuter-females, are lovingly crafted. Kidd can often be commended for creating characters with the sort of personality that means you remember them, relate to them and feel like you know them a little bit.

There are a few minor bugbears - the occasional typo or missing word, and the fact that the bees have hair (why?). And the cover of the paperback version seems to depict a human girl with bee wings. I have chosen to perceive the characters rather truer to their intended identity.

This is an exciting story, and may well become one of my top 5 picks for books I have read this year (not ones released this year).

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And here's my interpretation of the bee girls:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fairies of the Dreamdark

Purchased on ebook via Amazon for $7.99 - not cheap, but this is definitely one I would read again and will likely cherish for years to come. I just wish there was a way to share it.

I already own book two.

Blackbringer (Dreamdark #1)Blackbringer by Laini Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before she penned the amazing "Daughter of Smoke and Bone", Laini Taylor wrote some other novels - most noteably the Dreamdark books. There are two books in the series so far, and this is the first. The Dreamdark books are populated with faeries - delightful winged people such as you might like to find in your garden. Magpie Windwitch is a particularly fierce faerie. It is her duty to rid the world of devils - djinn that have escaped their bottle and are wrecking havoc. Her latest endeavour brings her up against a devil more terrible than any she has ever seen before - a beast of darkness that does not appear to devour people but to rip them from existence entirely. With the help of her seven crow friends (who add comic value as well) Magpie must destroy this beast before it destroys everything she knows and loves.

The lyrical writing style and evocative descriptions make this a delicious and engrossing read. With fun, somewhat quirky characters and a delightful and well conceptualised setting; I fell in love a little with this book and can hardly wait until I next venture into the Dreamdark. A charming delight to read.

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And this is Snoshti - an adorable little Hedge Imp: