Just a brief glance at what I’ve been reading and what I’m looking forward to this month.
The reading for a selection committee (three guesses which one) has drawn to a close, so I’ve been breaking loose from (literal) boxes of middle grade fiction by reading a lot of adult books. Current favourite is A Casualty of War by Charles Todd, the latest book in the Bess Crawford mysteries. A good chunk of the narrative details the last three days of the First World War. It’s one of those odd things you don’t really think about: that the leaders on all sides had set a date and a time for the war to cease; meanwhile, the troops in the field are still being sent to kill each other knowing that they are literally days, hours away from the end of the war. Nursing sisters, including Bess, are doing their level best to save the last casualties while the clock ticks down. It’s maddening: people died because command decided that a significant time (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month) was more important than, I don’t know, stopping war and saving the lives of their people.
Anyway. The mystery. The authorial tone has shifted slightly since the last book; I don’t know if this was an authorial decision (Charles Todd is the pseudonym for a mother-son team) or a change in editor; but there were a few small things that stood out to me. Also! Bess’ relationship with Simon Brandon, her father’s former batman, now essentially family, is noticeably foregrounded with much more on-stage time than the previous books. This friendship (I’m sure many readers are majorly shipping it; I’m happy either way so long as they remain family) has been coming along nicely over the series. In the first books, Simon was rather inclined to issue orders as to an inexperienced child, more Bess’ parent’s right hand man than her peer and friend. It has been very satisfying seeing that change as Bess comes into her own, and as her family adjusts. I’m hoping for more of Melinda Crawford in the next book – which comes out in September – and more development of the aftereffects of the war (personal, political-cultural, logistic), as set up in this book.
Boom! Studios two days ago announced a forthcoming graphic novel by Samantha Davies, aka Stutterhug. Hex Vet will follow the adventures of two witches who set up a clinic for magical animals. Super excited for this! Sam’s wordless comics are sweet and funny; the longer you look at them the more you see.
I just binge-read Witchy, a webcomic by Ariel Ries. It’s going to be hard waiting a week for the next page: at the moment, our outlaw protagonist and a raven named Banana have arrived to find a town crawling with the witch guard, and Nyneve’s face plastered on wanted posters across the town square.
And under the category of good things in the near future, Miles Morales: Spiderman is staring across the desk at me. I’ve heard very good things about Jason Reynold‘s novel. Can’t. Wait.