Weekend reading recommendation. Fade to Black by Francis Knight.

This is a secondary world fantasy with the distinctive and imaginative twist of a post-feudal world where magic exists alongside early experiments in electricity and gunpowder – and that’s a very uneasy mix for a whole lot of reasons. And no, this isn’t a quasi-seventeenth century world but something entirely of itself, the action all set within a multi-level city, both in terms of geography and society.

The central character Rojan Dizon is doing the best he can down in the depths, trying not to fall any lower. He’s doing pretty well until he gets caught up in a crisis involving the family he’s grown apart from. Now he must find his way through a maze of manipulation and misdirection. Will doing his best be good enough?

I really enjoyed this – the story’s well paced and nicely structured, I engaged with the characters and the author doesn’t take easy options or duck hard questions.

And why am I reading this? Well, I’m on a panel next week at the World Fantasy Convention, looking at new female voices in fantasy and SF. Since my reading over the past two years has been dominated by the Arthur C Clarke Award, I soon realised I had some catching up to do. I’m very pleased to find there’s some extremely good reading out there from new women writers.

And since I’ve been flagging up the issues of visibility for women writers at the moment, I decided it’s time to put this blog where my mouth is, and start posting some short, non-spoilery reviews, to flag up books you might like to look out for. So watch this space.

– and adding a link to the author’s website would be a good idea, wouldn’t it? Find out more about Francis Knight and her writing here

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