Fantasy booklist: pity & terror

515Lw3Ukz2LWas it Kate Wilhelm who said that all ghost stories are about family? Both of the following books are beautifully written page-turners. Avoid if you’re prone to nightmares.

Was, by Geoff Ryman, is a  retelling of The Wizard of Oz and what really happened to that little girl who was dumped onto her relatives, and had to live on a hardscrabble farm in Kansas. The Wicked Witch of the West and Auntie Em are the same person.

Octavia Butler’s Kindred moves back and forth between 1976 California and early-nineteenth century Maryland as Dana, a black woman, is pulled back in time to save the life of one of her ancestors, a feckless white boy named Rufus. As the boy becomes a man he continues to be at risk, and Dana keeps being pulled back to the antebellum south to save him. A book that Butler called “grim fantasy”. Written without any bombast, it’s as chilling as those three violins in the Psycho soundtrack.

As usual, click on the author’s name for more information about the writer and his or her books.


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