Tara Calaby

writer, editor & phd candidate

Tag: fantasy (page 1 of 4)

Grimdark, Issue #4 Now Out

Last month, I posted exciting news about “Ashes” having been accepted by Grimdark Magazine. Today, I’m here to let you know that my issue of the magazine is now out, and also to show you the gorgeous cover art from Jason Deem.

You can buy issue #4 through Grimdark Magazine‘s website, or as part of a first year bundle that includes writing from such notables as Mark Lawrence and R. Scott Bakker. It’s also available on Amazon.

Ashes

Back from the wilderness to make an exciting announcement. My piece “Ashes” will be in the next issue of the wonderful Grimdark Magazine, due out at the start of July. It’s a dark (Grimdark, even!) fantasy piece that looks at what comes after the Happily Ever After for Cinderella.

More once I have a cover to show you and links to purchase.

In other news, I have submitted my M.Litt thesis and am awaiting confirmation of passing that and completing the course. I’m also doing a lot of writing for Emerge Australia, an ME/CFS not-for-profit, and enjoying my Assistant Editor tasks for Luna Station Quarterly.

Undertow and Shadows

undertowAKA: Finally, an update.

Firstly, Undertow is now officially launched and available for purchase on Amazon. My piece ‘Breath’, a historical ghost story, is one of twenty stories with links to the Gold Coast. I really like the cover art and am looking forward to getting my own copy so that I can read the other stories in the anthology.

Secondly, I have actually been doing some writing. Will wonders never, etc etc. It’s a short play of approximately 20-25 minutes, called ‘Shadows’. Comprising of three monologues about three women with three secrets, it was written to exploit the enclosed theatre spaces involved in The Container Festival at Monash University. Hopefully it’ll be produced there later this year under the direction of Ephiny Gale.

Review: The Cracks in the Kingdom, by Jaclyn Moriarty

cracksSometimes it is good to be given books you’ve not specifically requested. If I’d seen the first The Colours of Madeline book in a shop or a library, I would’ve picked it up due to Jaclyn Moriarty’s name, but likely put it back down again when I read the blurb and realised it was fantasy. If I’d done that, I’d have missed out on reading an amazing series.

The first novel, A Corner of White, was a lot of fun. ‘Quirky’ is the word that seemed the best way to describe it, and the reviews I’ve read show that I wasn’t the only person to feel that way. With The Cracks in the Kingdom, however, I think the series has developed into something much more than quirky. It’s moving and exciting and intriguing, and I often found myself torn between wanting to rush through the pages to find out what would happen next – and why – and wanting to take things slowly, so that I could really appreciate the language and Moriarty’s great grasp of both character and style.

Although The Cracks in the Kingdom is the second book of a trilogy, it didn’t feel incomplete. There are still things left unfinished and questions left unanswered, but I didn’t feel cheated, because it still read like a complete novel, with enough resolution to counter the loose threads. That said, I’m still going to be grabbing the next book as soon as I can get my hands on it – not only because I want to find out what happens, but also because I’m pretty certain that I’ll be guaranteed a jolly good read.

The Colours of Madeline is an excellent example of just how good YA can be when it breaks away from carbon-copy fads and finds its own voice and concept in the hands of a talented author. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to say goodbye to Cello just yet.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

Born To It & Icarus

suddenlyA couple of pieces of news today.

Firstly, Suddenly Lost in Words 4 is now available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. It contains my piece “Born To It”, along with eight other short stories for young adults – and older adults as well! “Born To It” is a short fantasy piece about a girl who possesses the ability to see into the future, and the reactions of her peers to her strange talent.

I’ve not yet read any of the other pieces in the anthology, but am looking forward to doing so.

In addition, it looks like my science fiction story “Icarus” will be published in the March issue of Aurealis, so I’m looking forward to that. “Icarus” is one of my favourite pieces, so I’m glad it’s found a good home.

Born To It

The first news for 2014 is that my short story “Born To It” will be appearing in the YA anthology Suddenly Lost in Words 4. I’m not yet aware of a publication date, but I’ll update once I know when it’s going to be available.

The Silver Witch

bookcase‘The Silver Witch’ is now available up at the Daily Science Fiction website. If you’re interested, check it out – and take a look at all the other great stories while you’re there 🙂

The Silver Witch

bookcaseNext week, my first pro-rate sale will be going live at Daily Science Fiction. It’s a short piece called “The Silver Witch” and it’s a bit of a departure from my usual style and genre. If you want to read it when it’s first available on the 18th, you’ll have to sign up for the email – which is well worth doing anyway. Otherwise, it’ll be available online a week later, and I shall try to remember to post a link soon after that!

I’ve not been doing a lot of writing lately, because I’ve been focussing on being ill 😉 My creativity has been directed towards sewing projects instead. I’m hoping to get back to it soon, though, because I find that the longer I take a break from writing, the harder it is to get back to it, because the need to be perfect takes over entirely.

Review: The Skeleton Key – Tara Moss

The Skeleton Key coverWhen I received The Skeleton Key in the mail, I wasn’t sure it would be my kind of book. I’m a bit (okay, a lot) over paranormal romance at the moment, so I was worried that I might find myself wading through just the kind of novel I’m avoiding right now. As it turned out, I really needn’t have worried. There’s a hint of romance here, but the emphasis is strongly on the paranormal, and the book as a whole is much more Buffy than Twilight. I actually recommend it strongly to Buffy fans, because Pandora is from a similar kind of normal-but-kickass-chosen-one mould. (Try to say that one three times quickly.)

Although I haven’t read the first two books in the Pandora English series, I didn’t struggle at all with picking up the premise and the universe. Tara Moss creates an interesting world full of all the usual paranormal types, and manages to avoid the same-old-same-old trap. There are vampires – sorry: Sanguines – here, but there is a refreshing lack of uniformity when it comes to their characterisation. Deus (whom I loved) is a very different character to the undead supermodels who plague Pandora’s existence.

One of the things I liked most about The Skeleton Key was the humour that marked the narrative and the character voice. There’s a healthy sense of irony here, and that makes the occasional genuinely creepy moment stand out even more. The key villain of the novel is suitably discomforting and, while Pandora largely operates on instinct and employs extreme powers she doesn’t fully understand, I didn’t find this annoying. Her resignation to her responsibility as the Seventh and her commitment to doing the very things she doesn’t yet know how to do somehow made up for the relative ease of her achievements.

Pandora is nineteen, and The Skeleton Key very cleverly walks the (fading) line between young adult and adult fiction. There are no pubescent dramas to distance the book from adults, and there is nothing within its pages that could be considered too ‘old’ by younger readers (or their parents). The idea of crossover appeal is often thrown about these days, but I think it’s an apt descriptor for this series.

All-up, I found The Skeleton Key a light and enjoyable read and I shall definitely look up the first two books in the series – even if my arachnophobia does make me a little nervous about The Spider Goddess

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

Review: Cinder – Marissa Meyer

Cinder book coverFive Things I Loved About Cinder

1. It is set in a well-constructed and interesting future universe. Marissa Meyer has given thought to the history of her world and to how this history influences the present time and the fears and actions of those who inhabit it.

2. It uses the Cinderella fairytale as inspiration, not as a blueprint. Often, retellings are just that, with no real creativity or innovation involved. Here, you can see the elements of the original story, but they’re used in a way that feels authentic within the setting.

3. It has a strong female lead. Cinder has plenty of insecurities, but she just gets on with her life despite these and despite her less-than-wonderful living situation. She’s a talented mechanic, devoted to the people she cares about and selfless when it matters, rather than as her standard.

4. It’s entertaining and well-plotted. The pacing is good and there is a strong mix of characters who do not feel like unaltered archetypes. Better still, the romantic lead has a lot more going for him than his looks – and he treats Cinder with respect.

5. It’s about a CYBORG OMG. Cyborgs are essentially my science fiction thing.

Two Things I Didn’t Love About Cinder

1. It contains a “twist” that is readily apparent almost from the very beginning of the book. Regardless of whether Meyer wanted her readers to be aware of this before Cinder, I always feel a bit duped when the big reveal is something I’ve known all along.

2. It is not a fully-contained novel, but rather the first quarter of a complete story. This is my biggest gripe with Cinder. I know series are the big thing right now, but every novel within a series should be able to be read and enjoyed as a book in its own right. I didn’t feel that with Cinder. It’s good enough that I will read Scarlett anyway, but the lack of any closure is annoying nonetheless.

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