As you can see from the title, this week I’ve chosen a few of my favorite books that are less widely known, but first I have to correct a grievous error on my part. Last week I was all about the new books I’ve stumbled upon recently. The day after it posted, I realized that I had forgotten to include the book that gave me the idea to write about new books in the first place. It’s called Death Cloud, and apparently it’s only new in the U.S. Among other things, Andrew Lane, the author, has also written some official Doctor Who and Torchwood books. While I was looking for his writing credits I found out that Death Cloud, which was released a few weeks ago in the States, came out last year in the U.K. and Australia. In fact, the third installment will be coming out overseas next month. However, thanks to the awesome powers of the Internet, I will have book two, The Red Leech, in 7-12 business days. Anyway, about the book – It is the start of a new young Sherlock Holmes series. Not only that, it is the only such series to be endorsed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate. I am a lifelong Holmes fan, and I enjoyed it very much. It is fast-paced and exciting, and it seems entirely plausible that the teenaged Holmes that Lane has created could turn into the consulting detective that we all know and love.
So, now that that’s out of the way, on to Obscure and Awesome
The Door in the Air
This is a collection of short stories by Margaret Mahy that I find utterly enchanting. I thought of it last week when Hattie wrote her post about things that ignite her imagination because most of the stories start with a non-magical activity like knitting, making a cake or building a bridge and turn them into something fantastic. Diana Catchpole’s illustrations are simple pen and ink cartoons that fit the stories perfectly. Both seem simple on the surface, but they draw you with surprising details.
One for the Morning Glory
I think I have mentioned John Barnes One for the Morning Glory before, but I like it so much I’m doing it again. Most of John Barnes’ work is science fiction, with this one book venturing over into fantasy. I wish he would venture this way more often. It is the story of a prince who loses his whole left side after drinking the Wine of the Gods. A year and a day after the accident, four mysterious companions arrive to teach him as he grows up. By the end of the book, he has regained his left side, fallen in love with a princess in disguise and reclaimed his kingdom from a truly evil usurper named Waldo.
The Thirteen Clocks
Of my three obscure books, this is the only one currently in print. James Thurber’s Thirteen Clocks was re-released in 2008 with a new introduction written by Neil Gaiman. It is a wonderful and bizarre fairy tale, written in prose that manages to sound like poetry. I don’t know that I can describe the story and do it justice, so I’m just going to do what the Amazon reviewer did and let it speak for itself:
Once upon a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill, where there were thirteen clocks that wouldn’t go, there lived a cold, aggressive Duke, and his niece, the Princess Saralinda. She was warm in every wind and weather, but he was always cold. His hands were as cold as his smile, and almost as cold as his heart. He wore gloves when he was asleep, and he wore gloves when he was awake, which made it difficult for him to pick up pins or coins or the kernels of nuts, or to tear the wings from nightingales.