Welcome back to another installment of the Monday Minis, books that have delighted the Fab edition! Massive thanks to the respective publicists for sending me these books for review, all opinions are my own.
All the Horses of Iceland by Sarah Tolmie is a wonderfully lyrical novella, ostensibly about the introduction of horses to medieval Iceland, but not really about horses at all. Set in the 9th century, this follows a single man, a trader, as he leaves Iceland for the mainland and interacts with people from cultures foreign to him. Heavily inspired by the accounts of Ibn Fadlan, a 10th century Arab-Muslim traveller, whose accounts shaped our perceptions of Viking traditions such as their funerals, this is an account of travels, of interactions between cultures, of first contacts. Taking a single story, it tells of grander adventures, of genealogies, taking up storytelling traditions found in Norse literature throughout the centuries. It is well-researched, beautifully written and haunting. I am sad I only got to read an eARC of this, and I know I will have to get myself a finished copy of this novella as soon as possible as it is one that I will want to dive into again and again. A true treat for medievalists and enthusiasts of slow, thoughtful stories alike!
The lovely folks over at Faber Children’s sent me a copy of Serendipity, a YA short story collection based on romance tropes edited by Marissa Meyer. Each story takes a different trope – think: just one bed, fake dating… – and constructs a contemporary romance around it, and they are delightful. I’m not usually one for long-form contemporary YA in most cases, but for some reason, short stories seem to work really well for me. As always with anthologies, I didn’t love every story as much, and unsurprisingly Anna-Marie McLemore’s was my favourite. I am nothing if not predictable with my favourite authors! But as a whole the collection cheered me up and felt like a warm hug. If you too would like to experience that feeling, you should get a copy of this anthology.
I was so thrilled when I received Gallant by V.E. Schwab in the mail from the wonderful folks over at Titan Books. My full review is locked and loaded over on Grimdark Magazine and should go live soon – but in the meantime, the book is as gorgeous on the inside as the cover makes you expect. It is atmospheric and character-focussed, with a plot that really takes second place to those elements. But this is the area where Schwab’s writing shines the most, and it is the magical sort of book that just does not let you go until you are done. I also loved how the story incorporates a series of beautiful illustrations – not merely as decorations, but as an integral part of the storytelling. Olivia, the main character, is non-verbal, and is written beautifully and with compassion. It would have been so easy for Schwab to fall back on ‘lost in translation’ tropes with communication, but largely avoiding those made the book so much stronger. A true five-star read!