Today’s women writers of science fiction and fantasy are Jenny Nimmo, Andre Norton, and Naomi Novik. If any of their work sounds interesting to you, please do check them out — and if you have enjoyed something by them that I haven’t mentioned, let me know in the comments.
Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo
The Charlie Bone series of books was recommended to us by a bookstore employee who said that many people who enjoyed Harry Potter liked them. The two boys do share some similarities — both are 11 at the start of the first book, both are special, both head off to a school dedicated to people like them. The flavors of the books are very different, however.
Charlie, for example, lives with his mother, both grandmothers, and his Uncle Paton. His father’s family and the Bloors, as well as many others, are descendants of the Red King, a magician from Africa who bequeathed strange powers to his descendants. Charlie’s first hint that he’s not ordinary is when he looks at photographs and hears voices. Life becomes quite interesting as he meets new friends and new enemies, tries to adjust to what he’s learned about himself, and sees the beginning of war between the children of the Red King.
The characters are enthralling and captivating, and the family history — much of which Charlie has yet to learn — is compelling. If you enjoy middle-grade fantasy series, I highly recommend this one. In fact, I’m looking forward to reading Nimmo’s new trilogy, about the Red King himself.
Jenny Nimmo can be found online at www.jennynimmo.me.uk.
Sorceress of the Witch World by Andre Norton
I grew up reading the Witch World books. In fact, although I have several of Norton’s science-fiction works, I’ve never read any of them. I still remember when my dad first discovered her work — I was off at grad school, I think, and I was surprised that he’d never read her before. He was surprised that I kept referring to Andre as “she.” He finally acknowledged that I was right some time later — I imagine the Science Fiction Book Club had done a write-up on her, or included a picture or something. Or maybe he went looking on the Internet. He was surprised.
It’s probably as well I read them when I was younger. Today, I might hesitate at a novel that begins, “The freezing breath of the Ice Dragon was strong and harsh over the heights, for it was mid-winter, and the dregs of a year which had been far from kind to me and mine.” Now, I know that if I sit and read the first chapter, then the second, the third comes almost without thought as I immerse myself once more into this world of magic, of witches and warriors. In this book, Kaththea searches for her own power, her family, and one to be her love. I think Three Against the Witch World is actually my favorite in the series, but this is a close second.
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
This book is a cross between Anne McCaffrey and Patrick O’Brian. Captain Will Laurence serves in the Royal Navy until a dragon egg that his crew has claimed from a French ship hatches and the dragon picks him to be its handler. Set in an alternate version of the Napoleonic Wars, the series is rich in detail. The characters are not as rich as some — and the traitor in the ranks of the dragon handlers was obvious — but the world is exquisite. Well worth reading.
Naomi Novik can be found online at www.temeraire.org.