Mini Swarm Reviews: Harper Voyager Reads

Posted 28 April, 2014 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 13 Comments

While I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy, science fiction and fantasy, I’m not as broadly read in those genres as I’d like to be. Harper Voyager produces a wide range of novels within those categories, novels that ended up in my hands and on my reading list. You know, sometimes it’s good to broaden your reading horizons.

DREAMS AND SHADOWS by C. Robert Cargill
448 pages, hardcover
Available now (February 2013)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same.

Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate.

This book is much darker than I usually read. Filled with fantastical creatures, many of whom don’t seem like they should be in the same book together (though they are and they do), this story follows the story of Ewan and Colby, whose fates are meshed from the moment they meet. Told from three points of view, a well-developed plot and strong world-building help carry this story along. My only real quibble would be the lack of strong female roles. While Ewan’s mom’s a bit of a ball-buster, the other women are decidedly lackluster. (Insert sad face.)

DEAD SET by Richard Kadrey
YA Fantasy
309 pages, hardcover
Available now (October 2013)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

After her father’s funeral, Zoe and her mother moved to the Big City to start over. But life’s not so easy, the money is tight, and a new school brings trials. Fortunately, she has an escape: her dreams. A world of freedom and solace removed from the loneliness and anxieties of real life, Zoe’s dreamscape offers another, more precious, gift: It is the only place where she can spend time with her closest companion — her lost brother Valentine.

Yet something is very wrong. An unfamiliar — and uninvited — presence has entered her private realm to threaten Zoe and Valentine, a disturbing turn of events that is compounded by an impossible discovery. A chance encounter at a used record store where the grooves of the vinyl discs hold not music, but lost souls, has opened up a portal to the world of the restless dead. Now, the shop’s strange proprietor is offering Zoe the chance to commune with the father whose passing took a piece of her heart. The price? A lock of hair. Then a tooth. Then…

How far into this eerie world will Zoe go to discover what she truly needs? And once she does, will there be enough left of her to come back?

So, here’s a young adult novel with a female protagonist written by the author of the Sandman Slim series, which is incredibly dark and gritty. Seriously, I had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. While this wasn’t the strongest book out of the Harper Voyager pile, it was still a pretty good read. After Zoe loses her father, she’s incredibly sad and depressed. So, of course, she jumps at the chance to talk to him again on the plain of Iphigene, a way station for the dead. I liked the use of Egyptian mythology and how they treated their dead as well as the incredibly creepy characters of Hecate and Ammut (flying snakes! *shudders*).  

THE MARGARETS by Sheri S. Tepper
Science Fiction
528 pages, hardcover
Available now (May 2007)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

The only human child living in a work colony on the Martian satellite Phobos, little Margaret Bain has invented six imaginary companions to keep boredom and loneliness at bay. Each an extension of her personality, they are lost to her when she is forced to return to Earth. But they are not gone.

The time will come when Margaret, fully grown and wed, must leave this dying world as well—this Earth so denuded by thoughtlessness and chemistry that its only viable export is slaves. For now Margarets are scattered throughout the galaxy. And their creator must bring her selves home . . . or watch the human race perish.

This cover creeps me the hell out. And it should because Margaret breaks herself into multiple physical incarnations of herself (eep! Sybil!), which matches the cover. This was my first Sheri S. Tepper novel and…I’m just not sure I’m going to read another of hers. She’s got a way with words, can describe worlds, people and alien races like nobody’s business but this particular story beats you over the head with allegories, which didn’t impress me. Is this true in other books of hers? I know that she has some die-hard fans out there — maybe a recommendation for a favorite Tepper novel so I can try again?

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13 Responses to “Mini Swarm Reviews: Harper Voyager Reads”

  1. I haven’t actually heard of any of these books, let alone their authors. The cover of Tepper’s novel is definitely creepy but Dreams & Shadows seems right up my alley with its strong world-building. Thanks for putting these on my radar, Mary!

  2. I’m in the middle of reading Dreams and Shadows right now, and you are right–it is DARK and twisty. I kind of went into it blind, and then was like, “Oh! Fairies! Yay!” and well . . . you can guess how long that lasted, LOL. I’m confused as hell about what’s going on, but I’m interested enough to keep going with it. I got Dead Set awhile back too, but haven’t managed to read it yet. I love Egyptian mythology though, so I definitely will at some point. As for The Margarets . . . yep, that is one seriously creepy cover. Sadly I can’t offer any recs. I love your mini-reviews 😉

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

  3. So. This doesn’t have much to do with anything and I’m sorry in advance for the randomness of this comment – but I cannot for the life of me figure out what’s going on with that first cover. Are those orange things flames? Fluffy creature tails? Are they making something in the negative space I’m just not seeing? I NEED TO KNOW MARY!

    Cathy read Dead Set and enjoyed it as well, and this is me crossing my fingers we get more books that feature Egyptian mythology! I’m a sucker for any and all types of mythology:)

  4. I keep meaning to give Richard Kadrey a try. I’ve had the first two books in his UF series sitting on my shelf since I attending RT last year.Glad to hear that his YA is good too!

  5. Haven’t heard of any of these, but all 3 have great covers (for diff reasons — first 2 have nice typography, 3rd is creepy like whoa). Thanks for bringing them to our attention and letting us know what to expect!

  6. The lack of women turned me off to the first book. I like Egyptian mythology, so book 2 sounds really promising to me. The third cover completely freaked me out!! I’m not sure I could handle that one either. I love that you’re reading outside of your norm a bit here. I’m not sure I’ve read much (or anything) from this imprint.

  7. Oh you found 3 books I want to read. Yep, even the Tepper novel you have me curious with her writing. I may try this one or another one of hers, but yep… curious! LOL That should be a lesson to authors. Not all books have to have a 5 star rating to make me want to read them!

  8. Well I love dark and gritty, out of all of them I am most curious about Dead Set and I have heard wonderful things about Tepper but never tried her. Awesome mini reviews Mary 🙂

  9. I hadn’t heard of these, but Dead Set is calling to me now! Holy lord that Margarets cover is creeping me out, I have to scroll down everytime I see it! *chills*