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Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Nettle & BoneNettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've always rather enjoyed T. Kingfisher's (Vernon's) writing. It's always smooth and has that perfect fairy-tale feel to it.

This one is no exception. Indeed, it even has curse-slinging godmothers, bone-dogs, a wicked step-brother, three impossible quests, and a woodcutter.

I had a very good time reading this. I have no complaints about the story or my enjoyment of it.

Do you hear a 'but' forming here?
Yes, but by no fault of the author. This book was nominated for Best Hugo Novel and I'm sitting here scratching my head as for why. It is a good novel, but there's nothing extraordinary about the core story, the ideas, the situation OR the actual sub-genre of Fantasy that screams Hugo. Maybe I'm old fashioned. Mostly it's an award for SF. In the cases where it actually goes to a fantasy title, the fantasy titles are generally extra-ordinary and universally acknowledged as such. It was weird in '01 when Goblet of Fire won, but by then HP was in full swing. It was weird when American Gods won, but it WAS extra-ordinary. Paladin of Souls was wildly original, but I was scratching my head except for the fact that the author had richly earned Hugos in the past, and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a classic. The point is, it's only in the last 20 years that ANY fantasy was even slipping in to the Hugos. There are entirely different awards for Fantasy. So is this just some kind of lame grumbling from some guy who went out of his way to read every single Hugo winner AND nominated Hugo from the time it began in the 50's? Enjoying how it used to be the best and brightest and most extraordinary SCIENCE FICTION the world has to offer, be watered down to head-scratching stretches of category shoe-horning?

Okay. I suppose I can imagine a Romance winning a Best Western award or a SF winning the Booker, but people generally get annoyed by the constant re-emergence of this kind of ANOMALY. Right?

Fine. Rant over. It's not about Kingfisher. The novel is great and should definitely win a Fantasy award just for the writing. The ideas are clever but not groundbreaking, and yet enjoyment ought to carry a lot of weight.

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