I recently signed up to Scribd in order to listen to more audiobooks while homeworking. I was so pleased to discover that they had a few Tor.com novellas that I had been interested in reading, but couldn’t justify the cost (especially for the audiobooks!). Below are two mini reviews for Tor.com novellas that I recently listened to while in self isolation.
The Monster of Eldenhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
Publication date: 24 September 2019
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on errands, twisting him with magic, crafting a plan too cruel to name, while the monster’s heart grows fonder and colder and more cunning.
These monsters of Elendhaven will have their revenge on everyone who wronged the city, even if they have to burn the world to do it.
The Monster of Elendhaven is a funny one for me, because it had all the ingredients for a great story but just didn’t come together. I love the author’s elegant writing style, the dark and twisted characters, and the atmospheric world building. But ultimately, something about this story didn’t work for me — it felt rather pointless. I think I just didn’t get it.
The book starts out strong, and I was wondering why I had seen so many mixed reviews about it. However, things stopped clicking somewhere in the middle and it all just fell apart. I am always in awe of novella writers because cramming a fully fledged world, story, and cast of characters into under 200 pages is quite the feat. However, maybe this is a novella that needed more pages to become a fully realised story. I’m not really sure what it was that didn’t work for me, but I didn’t end up loving this one.
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
Publication date: 04 February 2020
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”
Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.
The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.
I was a little unsure about picking up Upright Women Wanted because Gailey’s latest novel, Magic for Liars, didn’t quite work for me. However, I was absolutely blown away by this fantastic alternate western! Everything about this book was brilliant — the world building was fully-realised, the cast of characters was phenomenal, the slow-burn romance was a joy to read, and the plot was just great. I’d highly recommend the audiobook, as the narrator was absolutely perfect.
I don’t want to say too much about this one, but I really loved Upright Women Wanted. If you’ve had your eye on it, pick it up!
Want to try a copy of these books? You can find them at the following sites (affiliate links):