I really enjoyed The Uncertain Places, though I’m not generally a fantasy reader. Lisa Goldstein is a talented writer and this book has what I consider to be staying power.
The story of The Uncertain Places raises some great questions about luck and envy. What would you do if you could “have it all”? How much of the good fortune in your life is sheer circumstance? Are you controlled by fate?
We read The Magicians during our honeymoon road trip, and I have to tell you, it’s now one of my favorite books ever. I don’t care what they say about this book, it would be impossible to over-rate it. We were transported.
That being said, if you’re not a die-hard, lifelong lover of children’s fantasy novels, don’t read it.
The great thing about The Magicians is that it’s a fantasy novel about fantasy novels. I think it succeeds on both levels. The other great thing about it is its blend of high-falutin intellectual conversations and hipness. It’s decadent, dissolute, yet it has this untouchable innocence at its heart. Imagine Bad Santa clapping for Tinkerbelle.
My heart is in my throat waiting for Lev Grossman’s next. Please let there be another.
The City, Not Long After is a fantasy novel from 1989. I have arbitrarily decided that 1990 is my cutoff point for Forgotten Classics. This isn’t because I don’t think any surefire classics have been written after that point – on the contrary – but rather that not enough time has passed for them to become “forgotten.” Presumably my readers are all old enough to have been reading continually since 1990, and are thus less likely to have missed anything good.
Pat Barker’s City exists in a future which is equal parts utopia and dystopia. The future San Francisco is (sparsely) populated by artists. This idiosyncratic society is then attacked by aggressive outsiders. What happens next makes this book an idealistic fable, but one that will stick in your memory.
John Crowley’s 1981 novel Little, Big was out of print for many years. I was lucky enough to discover it on my Grandma’s bookshelf, right next to the incomparable Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. I had a friend in college who had also read Little, Big, having found it on a Green Tortoise bus cushion during a trip to Central America, and we were utterly confounded by the bizarre coincidence that we had both encountered this impossible-to-find cult classic. But you are lucky, because it was reprinted in 2006. It won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.
This book is definitely on my Crazy Love list. Reading it for me was like falling into the pages down the rabbit hole. The atmosphere replicates that feeling of reading a fairy tale when you’re a little kid and not totally sure whether it’s make-believe or not. There are scary parts, funny parts, and romantic parts. The story itself, the concept behind the plot, is wildly inventive.