BOOK & BLOG
|March 11, 2007
I bought THE QUEEN IN WINTER mostly because it contained a short story by a recent favorite of mine, Sarah Monette. I was pleased to find another story written by a friendly acquaintance of mine, Sharon Shinn. A third was by Lynn Kurland, whose work Id often seen but never read, and Claire Delacroix wrote the fourth.
THE QUEEN IN WINTER is billed as four all new tales of enchantment and love, and thats exactly what it is. I really, really enjoyed this anthology.
In A Whisper of Spring, the completely pampered fairy princess Iolaire finds herself in a nightmare predicament. Shes been captured by a renegade who needs her for a bride, and if she says no, she dies. In addition, her own father has banished her because she got abducted. Help is coming, but she doesnt know it, and she has to figure out how to escape before her captor kills her. In the meantime, a human visitor to the fairy court whos seen Iolaire and fallen in love with her comes to her aid. This sounds insipid boiled down to bare bones but its not. Iolaire has a wonderful character, and so does her human lover.
Sharon Shinns When Winter Comes is just as delightful as Shinns writing usually is. Sosie protects her sister Annie and her sisters illegitimate son, Kinnon, from her parents, and is willing to accept their exile to continue protecting them. Its evident Kinnons father was far from ordinary, since magical infant Kinnon can wreak havoc when hes unhappy. Sosie, Annie, and Kinnon run into all kinds of trouble and meet a very decent king. Sosie is what we all wish we would be: determined, loyal, industrious, and brave. Youll love her.
Im saving Claire Delacroixs The Kiss of the Snow Queen. I had to put by one treat out of this book for a time when I really need it.
The first story I read is the last in the book, Sarah Monettes A Gift of Wings. I love Monettes richness and her unlikely pairings. Maur, a young wizard who has been disabled by torture, is being taken by his bodyguard (and former lover) Agido, to see a doctor in another land who may repair the damage to Maurs hands and spirit. Agido adores Maur, but she thinks he no longer loves her: Maur loves Agido, but thinks she must despise his weakness. In a snowbound inn, a murder occurs, and to free Agido of suspicion they must join forces.
Really, this is a wonderful anthology, and I think it would make a great gift to give anyone who loves both science fiction and romance, with a twist of the unconventional.
When you get together with a friend and you talk about your gripes and who doesnt? what pops to the top of your mind? For some people, its paying their bills. Maybe its a bureaucrat at the electric company who wont correct a mistake, or the unexpectedly high telephone bill because your teenager got 500 text messages.
For other people, it might be their in-laws, or even their own blood relatives. Mothers who wont admit they need help, aunts who steal the silverware, brothers who take up with unsavory women, or the cousin who wont return your chainsaw theyre all sources of aggravation.
A popular corner of the irritating world is populated by contractors and service providers who dont deliver what they contracted to provide. These people dont answer their phones or return messages, I find, and they always come in over estimate or cant get the matching brick. Sometimes they dont show up to mow, or clean, or rip the old tiles from your roof.
As I listened to these stories and told my own, a theme I hadnt recognized before became clear. What irritates me most is grocery stores; not specifically the stores themselves, but the people who are shopping in them. From the moms and dads who let their toddlers hold on to the front of cart, which is clearly unsafe, to the people who stop and chat, blocking the aisle -- other shoppers are clearly a big red peak on my aggravation chart. There are the people who have long personal conversations on their cell phones in the store; the women who are so intent on picking out exactly the right roast that their cart blocks off all the beef from other shoppers (meaning me); and of course, my favorite, the person who has to read the entire label on every single brand of kidney beans.
Once I recognized that the grocery store was a huge source of anger for me, I tried to go shopping at times the crowd is thin. Thats unpredictable, unfortunately, but Tuesday at nine in the morning seems to be pretty good. Before school is out is always better than after, weekdays are better than weekends, mornings are usually better than afternoons. Thats as refined as my plan has gotten.
The next time youre cruising through your local grocery, Im sure youll all remember your common courtesy lessons. After all, if the shopper behind you is short, round, female, and disgruntled, it may well be me.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris