It’s unthinkable, I know, but the truth is I’ve never been a Peter Parker/Spider-Man fan. Wait, though! Those days may be numbered, thanks to Spider-Verse. The first Spider-Verse specific issue (not taking into account the Prelude to Spider-Verse issues, or anything else I may be missing) was released not too long ago, but before that I had seen a preview of Olivier Coipel’s art, which was enough. I skedaddled over to a comic book store, picked up the issue and spent a sliver of my evening contemplating creating a spreadsheet to keep all the Spiders, alternate Earths, etc., straight. (You skoff? Just wait till you meet Spider-Ham. That’s right, folks. Spider. Ham. And Bruce Banner, who, on some alternate Earth, never hulked out but became a Spider instead.) Head-scratching and the urge to spreadsheet aside, I really enjoyed that issue. Why? Well, let me start with two names: Cindy Moon (aka Silk) and Gwen Stacy (aka Spider-Gwen). (Jumping the gun for a moment: Let’s hear a Hurrah! because both of these fabulous ladies are getting their own series in 2015.) Actually, let me add another name: Jessica Drew (aka Spider-Woman). Jessica wasn’t in it enough, which is also true of Cindy and Gwen, but page after page I sought them out, and when I finished the issue I knew I wanted (needed) to know more–and that applies to Peter too, as well as all the other Spiders the issue introduced me to. (That, and I’m just flat-out curious about Spider-Verse’s endgame.) To facilitate learning more, I grabbed The Amazing Spider-Man: Dying Wish, The Amazing Spider-Man: The Parker Luck as soon as it came in, and The Amazing Spider-Man: Return of the Black Cat.
Like I said at the top of the post, knee-deep in Spiders. (And that is the only time I will ever say that and be okay with it.)
In Boston in 1765, Thieftaker Ethan Kaille recovers missing and stolen objects for a fee. You might think his ability to cast spells would be a boon in his chosen profession, but Boston society takes one look at a conjurer and whispers witch, and Ethan isn’t so far removed from the hysteria to count on being safe from persecution. In this first novel of the series, Ethan is hired by a wealthy merchant to find a brooch his daughter wore the night she was murdered. Of course it’s not that simple, and Ethan quickly runs afoul of Boston’s other, more prominent and ruthless Thieftaker, as well as a stronger conjurer who wants Ethan to leave well enough alone.
Don’t let the fantasy elements fool you, Historical Fiction Fans. Jackson doesn’t stint on historical detail, oh no. Grenville’s Stamp Act is the rabble-rousing backdrop of the novel; there’s mention of the Great Fire of 1711, which destroyed the Old Meeting House and the area surrounding the Cornhill Market; and familiar names, like Revere and Adams, consistently pop up in relevant places. That list could go on, by the way, and doesn’t even cover all of the familiar ground those of us living in and around Boston have trod over, perhaps in Ethan’s fictional footsteps even.
Urban Fantasy Fans, you might want to take a longer look at this one too, especially if you enjoy Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series. If time travel was possible, or if Butcher and Jackson collaborated on an alternate universe crossover, Harry and Ethan would be best bros. Or–because they share a similar worldview, and because their personalities and how they react in dangerous situations are uncannily alike–they’d somehow manage to rub each other the wrong way.
The series, in order (I know I’m not stopping after the first book):
I’ve only just begun to read Cat Winters’ The Cure for Dreaming, but here’s what I can tell you about it: Set in 1900, Olivia Mead strongly if relatively quietly supports the suffrage movement, which makes living life under a domineering father hard to bear. Attempting to curb what he considers rebellious thinking and behavior, Olivia’s father hires a hypnotist to rid her of dreams she can’t possibly achieve. The session, however, imbues Olivia with a shocking new ability.
This book garnered a considerable amount of positive attention prior to its release, and though I’ve only tucked a few chapters under my belt, I think I can see why. The descriptions are lovely, setting the scene with a cinematic eye. And there’s Olivia, trying to find her way in a world that would have her not stray far from home. The interactions between father and daughter have so far made me grind my teeth, and while it may seem strange, that’s a good thing: Winters conveyed Olivia’s frustration so well, my emotions were engaged. I’m very much looking forward to watching the plot unfold and Olivia grow.
So those are a few of the books I’m currently reading. How about you?