Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel
The second in the Thomas Cromwell series did not quite live up the first. Mantel strays too far from the existing information about Cromwell and shifts from Historical Fiction into a speculative, imaginative treatment that has us spending a great deal of time in Cromwell’s fantasy world. The book is good and quite readable, but the shift in tone weakened it and felt almost as if the author were trying to create filler where there wasn’t enough to keep the story going. 3 stars.
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Weckler
This book is dense with atmosphere and history, carefully painting and realizing the real world into which are thrust a Golem and a Jinni. The care taken with the time period makes it seem like historical fiction with a twist. The Golem’s temperament, completely alien to the way human beings engage with the world and others within it serves as the perfect foil to the Jinni, whose emotional connection is dramatic and passionate. Really, it’s a story about ethics and responsibility, which might not seem like the stuff of fantasy, but it means that the characters seem very real and grounded in this world and their choices become invested with great meaning. 3.5 stars.