Other things I read in March:
Jaclyn Dolamore - Magic Under Glass: Nimira is a "trouser girl" and dancer who is hired by a sexy, mysterious man to sing with his clockwork pianist which may or may not be haunted. There are politics, fairies and racism; love happens; there are Jane Eyre references. These things are all good. But I raced through the 200-ish pages suspiciously easily. Stuff happens too fast - it feels like one minute Nimira is trying to figure out how to communicate with the automaton, and the next they're In Love; one moment supernatural forces threaten and the next they've gone away. I feel like Dolamore iss going for 'delicate', and runs the risk of veering too close to 'insubstantial'. There are points where this book is absolutely wonderful, such as the more bittersweet moments when Errin comes to terms with the implications of his situation. But I find myself frustrated at how good it could have been if the plot had just been given a little longer to develop.
Paro Anand - School Ahead!: I speed read this at work so really haven't got much to say about it, Rather a nice collection of short stories about school, I thought - it could have been less obvious about having A Moral in a couple of places, but there was this one story about running that made me really miss it.
Roald Dahl - Matilda: A reread; I was looking for a specific scene and ended up reading the whole thing in the process. Dahl's short fiction is amazing, but I hadn't read his children's novels in quite a while. Matilda is still good, which is a relief.
Victoria Alexander - The Lady In Question: I mentioned reading a couple of books by this author last month. Clearly I cannot resist the lure of long series about families - the protagonist of this one is the twin sister of the protagonist of The Pursuit of Marriage. This one has spies - why am I reading so many regency romances with heroes involved in British intelligence? This book caused me serious worry. There is a hidden notebook that is crucial to the plot and we do not know where it is. At some point in the book the heroine notices a random slit in her mattress and thinks nothing of it. At this point the reader (me) is thinking this may be the hiding place. The mattress is never referred to again, the notebook is found elsewhere, and I'm left wondering whether this is just something the author forgot to address or she's being clever and playing with the reader's expectations. Romance novels are my comfort reads. I expect to understand what's going on, and I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that in this case I am not sure.
Kathleen O'Reilly - Touched By Fire: This was rather weird. The hero is the son of a criminal who raped his mother, though no one knows this but himself and his father. He's had a traumatic childhood with a father who keeps telling him that his evil blood will revolt against him and he won't be able to resist his violent sexual urges. So when he meets the female protagonist he is a) very fucked up indeed and b) a virgin c) obsessed with dragons and how to tame them, don't ask. Also, there is gambling (not that interesting) and social stigma (likewise, next to the magnitude of the hero's issues) and child prostitution and an orphanage. And did I mention dragons? The heroine is honestly the least memorable thing about this book. The rest is fantastic.
Charles Butler - Four British Fantasists: Butler examines the role of place and history in the children's writing of Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, Penelope Lively and Susan Cooper. I will admit I skimmed the Penelope Lively bits as I've read nothing by her (which must be remedied), but Butler's commentary on the books I am familiar with is interesting and assured. I think he stumbles a bit in the discussion of Garner and appropriation in Strandloper (I fumed about this for a while) but it's a thoughtful, interesting work of criticism on the whole.