An Unexpected Potter Pilgrimage

I recently visited a friend of mine in Edinburgh, and although I didn’t know much about the city beforehand, I did remember it being mentioned in relation to J.K. Rowling. In particular, I’d heard there was a café there where she wrote parts of the first Harry Potter book. So when my friend asked if there was anything specific I wanted to do, I mentioned that I’d quite like to stroll by. I didn’t really expect anything too impressive or Potter-ish, though – it was just a café, after all.

Fortunately, my friend turned out to be far more knowledgable about Rowling and the history of the books than I am. She took me not just to the café, but to many other Potter-related places. I admit, I had trouble concealing my fangirl excitement. For some reason I had not expected Rowling to have drawn so much inspiration from the city around her, and in such obvious ways.

I’m sure many fans know these things already, but I thought I’d share a few pictures and details for any who, like me, have hitherto remained oblivious to their existence: Continue reading

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The Problem With Multiple Narrators in Audiobooks

I love audiobooks, and listen to them regularly. In my experience, most audiobooks have one narrator who reads the entire book. However, it’s also common to have two narrators, particularly if there are two main point of view (POV) characters. Often a male voice artist will read the male character, and a female artist the female character. As long as the narrators are good, I enjoy both of these arrangements.

However, I’ve occasionally come across audiobooks that have four or more narrators, one for each POV (I’m sure it helps that I love fantasy, a genre well known for having many POV characters). It sounds great, right? Each character gets their own unique sound and you get to listen to a variety of voices. Unfortunately, I’m rarely as impressed by multiple narrators as I am by one or two. Here’s why: Continue reading

The Dark Corners of Fiction: Lovecraft’s Effect

What does it really mean to be Lovecraftian? This week I’m delighted to host a guest post by historian-turned-novelist Kathryn Troy, who has just released her dark romantic fantasy novel A Vision in Crimson. Her historical expertise in the supernatural and the Gothic informs her fiction at every turn, and she’s stopping by on her blog tour to take a look at the influence of Lovecraft on speculative fiction:

Howard Phillips Lovecraft is one of the most influential authors in American literature. His craft, his universe, his subject matter and underlying themes are so pervasive in speculative fiction—fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and everything in between—that his impact is seen and heard the world over, even when it isn’t recognized as such.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a speculative fiction author today who doesn’t know who Lovecraft is, or doesn’t attribute him with having at least a modicum of influence over their own writing. But what does it really mean to be Lovecraftian? Continue reading

Tough Travels: Non-Human Heroes

It’s the 1st of June, which means it’s Tough Travelling time once more! This is a feature hosted by Laura Hughes at Fantasy Faction (originally created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn). Every month, with the help of Diana Wynne Jones’s classic The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, it puts the spotlight on a particular fantasy trope, theme or cliché, and invites bloggers to list stand-out books related to that week’s theme.

This month’s theme is non-human heroes: Continue reading

Those First Few Pages: 8 Hooks That Get Me

One of the criticisms I often hear levelled at books is that they take a while to “get interesting”. Even well-crafted first chapters can be a tad slow if the characters, world and story haven’t fully sunk their claws in yet. Nonetheless, I think most readers know to stick with a promising book even if it’s not immediately riveting, because they will be rewarded if and when those claws do sink in. Some of my favourite books had beginnings that didn’t powerfully hook me, so I don’t expect to be utterly wooed from the first line, or even the first few pages.

Occasionally, however, I am. Some books have striking openings that grab me and tug me forward, creating a level of excitement I might not normally expect for at least a few chapters. I always find these beginnings impressive, and enjoy trying to pinpoint what it was about them that drew me and other readers who raved about them in so completely. So for this post, I thought I’d do just that, and look at few “hooks” from beginnings that enthralled me: Continue reading

Three Year Blogiversary

Thoughts on Fantasy just turned three! Well, it actually turned three back at the start of this month but I am bad at keeping track of these things, so I only just noticed. It’s strange to think it’s been 3 years since I sat there figuring out how to use Wordpress and nervously hit “publish” on my first post. At least I’ve done a little bit of redesigning this year, so things don’t look quite the same as they did back then. Continue reading

5 Features That Make Me Fall in Love With a Book Cover

I’ve always loved beautiful book covers. I enjoy adding them to Pinterest boards and putting them in prominent places on my shelf. A great cover can help convince me to buy a book, and I’ll pay more to get an edition with a cover I prefer. However, a year or so ago I wrote a post highlighting some typical features of fantasy book covers, and since then I’ve paid even closer attention to the content and style of them. I’ve noticed there are certain features I have a distinct preference for – ones that catch my eye and make me want to reach out and grab the books they adorn. So I thought it might be fun to list some not-so-secret ways a book cover can enchant me: Continue reading

Tough Travels: Assassins

It’s Tough Travelling time again! This is a feature hosted by Laura Hughes at Fantasy Faction (originally created by Fantasy Review Barn). Every month, with the help of Diana Wynne Jones’s classic Tough Guide to Fantasyland, it puts the spotlight on a particular fantasy trope, theme or cliché, and invites bloggers to list stand-out books related to that week’s theme.

This month’s theme is assassins: Continue reading

The Blogger Recognition Award

Badge: Blogger Recognition Award

A big thank you to Bookneeders and Red String Paper Cuts, who have kindly nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award! Click the links to see their awards (and good blogging advice!) and check out their blogs. I know I’ve been slow to respond, but I’ve been looking forward to accepting and passing on the award love. Continue reading

Tough Travels: Beginnings

I always enjoyed coming across the ‘Tough Travels’ weekly feature on fantasy blogs – started by Fantasy Review Barn, every week it highlighted a different fantasy trope, theme or cliché from Diana Wynne Jones’s classic Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and participating bloggers listed books related to that week’s theme. Now Laura Hughes has brought Tough Travels back and is hosting it as a monthly feature on Fantasy Faction, so I thought I’d join in and become a tough (or not-so-tough) traveller myself!

This month’s theme is beginnings: Continue reading