Is It Getting Hot in Here, Or...? Romantic Fantasy in August's Heat

It has been a very hot month, hasn't it? For August, we're focusing on Romantic Fantasy - a subgenre of Fantasy with elements of Romance. While the romantic relationship will be the obvious focus, other relationships - including social and political ones - are often explored, as well. Magic and supernatural creatures make appearances, as well, but fantasy is often the motif or setting for the primary discussion of relationships. The main characters tend to be young people striving to find themselves and their places in the world around them; like Romances generally, Romantic Fantasy tends towards happy endings. Caution: while the focus is on romance and not sex for its own sake, there are occasionally depictions,sometimes graphic, of sexyfuntimes - and not always between two humans.

August's Main Read is brought to us by Spike! (While he is definitely a bad guy, he has a soft spot for romance - and isn't ashamed to admit it. What's not to love?) Check it out:

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Spike also recommends making use of your local library.
He's always liked libraries, although he's occasionally had problems with librarians.
Just the British ones.
I am not as I once was. They have done this to me, broken me open and torn out my heart. I do not know who I am anymore.

I must try to remember.
Yeine Darr, chieftain of a small and disdained northern tribe, is summoned to the capital city of Sky by her estranged grandfather, the king of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. She hopes to discover who murdered her mother; she does not expect to be named heir to the throne. Well, one of them, anyway. As if three heirs battling for the kingdom wasn't bad enough, she also has to deal with enslaved gods, prophecies, and politics of the realms.

In N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms we hear Yeine telling her own story as she attempts to remember who she is and why she is broken. As such, the story is told in first person, and sometimes interrupts itself to backtrack and remember something else, or wanders onto seeming tangents before picking up the chronology. Still, the story is beautifully told and is built into a wonderfully designed world. The romance in the story, while an important aspect, does not overpower the rest of the plot, and leads to an unusual and highly satisfying conclusion. Although it is the first book of the series, it works as a stand-alone novel - a great way to determine whether you want to continue delving into this world without the frustration of ending on a cliffhanger.

Highly recommended for godpunk fans, as well as YA readers who are looking for something beyond dystopian fantasy but who still appreciate a strong female main character. Parents will want to look it over carefully, as a couple very interesting sex scenes are included.

Spike also offers up this month's Quick Read, which is a gorgeous graphic novel that started out serialized online:

Sailor Twain: or, The Mermaid in the Hudson
I don't know if Spike has personally had any relationships with mermaids;
but he did keep mumbling, "Tricky bints..." while reading this.

Don't call me captain.

Sailor Twain (no relation to the author - and that was a pseudonym, anyway), captain of the riverboat Lorelei, has his life turned upside down and splintered when he rescues an injured mermaid from the Hudson River. While he attempts to unravel the mystery of her existence and entrapment in the river (and keep his heart faithful to his wife, Pearl), his boss, Lafayette, plays the ladies' man - seducing woman after woman to gain his seven loves. Lafayette has his own mermaid problem to solve, with the assistance of the equally mysterious author, C.G. Beaverton.

A beautifully and simply illustrated graphic novel, Mark Siegel's Sailor Twain: or, The mermaid in the Hudson explores love, lust, freedom, and the creative urge. The ending, unlike most Romantic Fantasy, is somewhat ambiguous, while remaining dreamily captivating. Recommended for those looking for a bit of romance in a graphic novel format - with all implications of the word "graphic" meant. (Parents, you might want to read it before handing it over to your kids, if you have problems with graphic sex scenes.)

Not hot enough for you? Need some more Romantic Fantasy recommendations, or want to know more about the genre? Let me know, and I'll ask Spike as soon as I break him away from his soap operas. 

Try not to get too overheated, everyone, and we'll see you again next month with some more suggestions from the Readers Advisory Committee!

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