Tag: Carrie Vaughn

Review – The Heirs of Locksley

Posted July 7, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 1 Comment

Review – The Heirs of Locksley

The Heirs of Locksley

by Carrie Vaughn

Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 128
Series: Robin Hood Stories #2
Rating: four-stars

We will hold an archery contest. A simple affair, all in fun, on the tournament grounds. Tomorrow. We will see you there.

The latest civil war in England has come and gone, King John is dead, and the nobility of England gathers to see the coronation of his son, thirteen year old King Henry III.

The new king is at the center of political rivalries and power struggles, but John of Locksley--son of the legendary Robin Hood and Lady Marian--only sees a lonely boy in need of friends. John and his sisters succeed in befriending Henry, while also inadvertently uncovering a political plot, saving a man's life, and carrying out daring escapes.

All in a day's work for the Locksley children...

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Heirs of Locksley is a follow-up to The Ghosts of Sherwood, and focuses even more on the children of Robin and Marian. What would they be like? Would they live up to their parents, and try to shape their world? They’re a little more grown-up now than in the previous book, and beginning to step out of the parents’ shadow — and there’s a new king on the throne, which has the potential to complicate everything.

I really liked Vaughn’s take on it, once I settled into what she’s trying to do with these two novellas. The children have to grapple with the legacy of their parents’ legend, and of course that leads them into trouble. In some ways it was all a bit obvious/contrived (of course they would happen to run into that one person, of all the possible people, for example), but it was satisfying nonetheless.

I also enjoyed Vaughn’s author’s note, which is satisfyingly clear about what exactly the Robin Hood legend is and what “historical correctness” is worth, or adherence to how the story “should” be. The truth (as Vaughn knows) is that there’s never been a single unifying Robin Hood story, much as Disney makes people think otherwise. It was always a handful of stories, tattered round the edges and not always fitting together. That’s part of the joy of it, and Vaughn adds a worthy little square to the tapestry.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – The Ghosts of Sherwood

Posted May 26, 2020 by Nicky in Reviews / 3 Comments

Cover of The Ghosts of Sherwood by Carrie VaughnThe Ghosts of Sherwood, Carrie Vaughn

Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 9th June 2020

I was eager to snap this up when I saw it on Netgalley, because Robin Hood stories are kind of a Thing for me. I did a module on Robin Hood stories during my BA, wrote a handful of my essays about it, and have always rather enjoyed Robin Hood stories. (Starting in childhood with Enid Blyton’s Tales of Daring Adventure, which is the only book handed down from both my parents. I believe I still have both their copies, with Dad’s in a better state and retaining its dustcover. I have also frequently heard the stories of my mother as a child deeply concerning her parents by sobbing inconsolably over the death of Robin Hood.)

So, this fairly gentle story fits right into that warm and cosy spot in my heart. Robin and Marian are married and respectable, with three children; it’s sort of inserted into real history, with King John signing the Magna Carta in part because of Robin’s insistence and William Marshall showing up to say hi. The story also tries for realism in discussing their relationship, Marian’s pregnancies, the way they fit into the world.

At the start of the novella, they’re returning from London, with Robin having decided that their eldest daughter will marry — and Marian isn’t happy. It carries on in this rather domestic way, until the children are kidnapped by a band of men… and a much-missed friend, long absent from Robin’s circle after his first decision to respect King John’s succession to the throne, witnesses the kidnapping and rushes to Robin for help.

Things move a lot faster at that point, and from the blurb it feels like that’s meant to be the centre of the story. It doesn’t feel like it, though, and I was surprised to learn there’s meant to be another linked book. I was happier with it as a sort of coda to the Robin Hood story; as the introduction to something more, it actually feels lacking for me, because I didn’t connect to the original characters in that way. I thought it was about Robin’s group, his relationship with Marian, and how an outlaw steps out of legend and becomes part of the world. I’m less interested in reading for the kids — I just liked seeing the old gang come back together.

Rating: 3/5

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Review – Kitty and the Midnight Hour

Posted October 31, 2017 by Nicky in Reviews / 7 Comments

Cover of Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie VaughnKitty and the Midnight Hour, Carrie Vaughn

I really enjoyed After the Golden Age, and after that planned to try pretty much anything by Carrie Vaughn that I came across. That initial good impression is waning a bit, though; I didn’t love Martians Abroad, and there was unfortunately quite a lot about Kitty and the Midnight Hour that I found made me uncomfortable. The idea — a werewolf is a DJ who ends up running a whole feature in which supernatural creatures can call in for advice and debate — is pretty darn cool.

The pack dynamics, however, are not. I can see that through the book, they’re slowly critiqued more and Kitty realises that she’s essentially in an abusive situation, but at the beginning, it’s presented as totally normal for her to be treated like a child, and yet also used for sexual gratification more or less whenever anyone else wants. I really cringed at her passivity in that situation, and her acceptance that this was okay. It’s not even true of real wolf pack dynamics (the common perception being based on packs in captivity) and it’s really difficult to read when it’s applied to people who are also human. I didn’t love it in other werewolf books like the Mercy Thompson books, but at least Mercy didn’t put up with it the way Kitty does.

The other books might well deal with this better, but I’m kind of burned out on werewolves right now — at least, on werewolves that act like this. Particularly at the start of the book, it’s treated as normal and okay and no one stands up and says hell no, and I really don’t fancy spending more time in that world waiting for Kitty to become the kickass protagonist I assumed she was. (Note: kickass doesn’t mean invulnerable — I just mean I can’t deal with a protagonist who lies back and lets all this happen to her.)

Maybe I’ll come back to Kitty at some point. Maybe not.

Rating: 2/5

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Review – Martians Abroad

Posted March 15, 2017 by Nicky in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of Martians Abroad by Carrie VaughnMartians Abroad, Carrie Vaughn

Received to review via Netgalley; published 17th January 2017

I had pretty high hopes for this, since I enjoy Carrie Vaughn’s work. And it’s not a bad book; it just never took off for me. The set-up, the conflict, the conclusion — all of it felt a little flat to me. I didn’t quite believe in it, I definitely didn’t believe in the stakes, and I don’t think I really believed in the characters either. On the face of it, I should really enjoy Polly’s character: her presence of mind, her refusal to think inside the box, her quickness to act and her willingness to protect others. I don’t even really know why I didn’t. I suppose because I didn’t feel her emotions coming through. She was dumped by her boyfriend and my reaction was ‘oh, well’ — partly because of her reaction, though admittedly also because that relationship isn’t built up at all.

If the phrase “dumped by her boyfriend” makes you feel like this might be a little juvenile, you’re right there, too. It feels like a YA novel, not just because of the age of the characters but because of the relatively low stakes. I mean, the stakes are allegedly life and death, and yet it always felt like a game. You got the sense that things would be okay. I almost hoped they wouldn’t be, at one particular point near the end, because that would’ve surprised me.

Bit of a miss for me, alas.

Rating: 2/5

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Review – After the Golden Age

Posted July 2, 2015 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of After the Golden Age by Carrie VaughnAfter the Golden Age, Carrie Vaughn

It’s been a while since I read this the first time, so I felt I should revisit it before I read the second book, even though I gather that follows the next generation. I was right that I needed to do that: a lot goes on that I’d forgotten the details of. I think this was the first superhero novel I read, possibly before I got into comics; it’s made me eager to read as many other superhero novels as I could, though so far I’ve just got to the point of collecting them all up, not actually reading them yet…

Anyway, this is a fun story; actually, it’s not exactly a superhero story in the traditional sense, because while the main character is the daughter of superheroes, she doesn’t have any powers of her own, unless you count being a kickass accountant. I guess on a second read you can see that it’s a little bit predictable, that the characters are not all developed… it’s a little bit tropey: I can see that same parental relationship problem as there is in Perry Moore’s Hero, for example. It’s a fairly predictable problem to have if your parents are really famous, let alone if they have superpowers. Worse if you don’t have superpowers.

I did like, though, that there was a certain ambivalence about Warren. He’s a hero, sure, and he’s learned to control things. And his daughter is important to him. But then he’s also thinking mad things like dropping his daughter off a roof to see if her power is flight, and nearly attacking her because she doesn’t go his way… And then again, on the flip side of that, he’s doing his best to rein himself in and reconcile. And they don’t quite reconcile, it’s not quite that easy, but they make some moves in that direction. Celia herself is a little ambivalent: she feels like she could flip and go with the supervillains, she has spent time with her father’s main adversary primarily to split from her parents and rile him up.

The relationship with Arthur Mentis could be problematic, but they kind of deal with the fact that he knew her as a child, and the story definitely deals with the way his mindreading affects the relationship.

All in all, it’s still really enjoyable, at least to my mind, and I’m looking forward to fiiiinally reading the sequel.

Rating: 4/5

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted May 2, 2015 by in General / 26 Comments

Is it Saturday again already? Whoa. I’ve been catching up on blog stuff all this week, thanks to the readathon — which is not a complaint.

Review copies

Cover of The Eye of Strife by Dave Duncan Cover of Cities and Thrones by Carrie Patel

I have finally got round to writing a review of The Buried Life, which will be up soon; Cities and Thrones is the sequel. You can still check out Carrie’s post here from her blog tour for The Buried Life, too! I got The Eye of Strife via LibraryThing; I’ve been meaning to read Dave Duncan for ages, so this should be interesting.


Cover of Sword by Amy Bai Cover of Dreams of the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn

I’ve been interested in Sword for a while, so I picked it as my win in one of the readathon giveaways. <3 Dreams of the Golden Age was my pick for another win; that hasn’t arrived yet, which is probably good, because I need to reread After the Golden Age, and I think my partner has my copy.


Cover of The Drowning City by Amanda Downum Cover of Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas Cover of The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley

Cover of The Deadly Sisterhood by Leonie Frieda Cover of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Drowning City are both rereads, to get me back up to speed for the next book in the series/trilogy. Crown of Midnight is obvious, since I just read Throne of Glass (but I’m sorry, I just don’t love it as much as some of you guys seem to). I have The Deadly Sisterhood somewhere, but goodness knows where. And I just like Susanna Kearsley.


Cover of Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal Cover of Silk, Marvel comic

Quite a contrast there between the covers, heh. I reaaally need to actually read the issues of Silk I have… I’ve been tearing through Kowal’s series lately, just in time for this last book. I’m excited!


Cover of Among Others audiobook Cover of Rivers of London audiobook

Cover of Epigenetics audiobook by Richard Francis

I usually prefer to listen to audiobooks I’ve already read for myself, hence Among Others and Rivers of London (the latter of which I’d like to refresh my memory on anyway); Epigenetics: How Environment Shapes Our Genes is a new one for me, which I couldn’t really resist because epigenetics! Non-fiction! Science!

How’s everyone else been doing? Behaving yourselves?

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted March 17, 2015 by in General / 6 Comments

The Top Ten Tuesday prompt for this week is all about your spring TBR. Since I don’t really plan ahead much (I get too obsessed) and I’m writing this post two weeks before it goes live (I like to be organised), this is a somewhat random selection, and I might have got round to them by the time this goes live…

  1. Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses. I should get round to this soon, since the publishers were kind enough to grant me access on Netgalley, and I actually have yet to read anything by Maas. Everyone’s so enthusiastic… I’ll get there soon!
  2. Karen Maitland, The Raven’s Head. Also an ARC, though I’ve read just about everything Maitland’s written so far. I’m hoping this one breaks the mould a bit, though.
  3. Emma Healey, Elizabeth is Missing. The idea of this really intrigues me. It should be waiting for me at the library as I write, so I should be reading it soon. I might find it a bit upsetting, though; apparently the portrayal of dementia and mental illness is very good.
  4. Joe Abercrombie, Half a KingIt’s about time, that’s all I can say.
  5. Guy Gavriel Kay, The Lions of Al-Rassan. The next in my project of rereading all Kay’s books in publication order. (The idea is to watch his writing improve/change with experience, though oddly enough his earliest novels are probably my favourites.)
  6. Sam Kean, The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons. I’ve been recommended this, neurology is fascinating, I might want to become a neurologist, and the library has it. What more could I wish for?
  7. Melissa Grey, The Girl at Midnight. Just got approved for this on Netgalley after a long wait, and it was in a previous Top Ten Tuesday as a book I was particularly looking forward to. Ergo, I have no excuse.
  8. Carrie Vaughn, After the Golden Age. This is a reread I’ve been meaning to get round to for a long time. I think there’s another book now, too!
  9. Gail Carriger, Changeless. I don’t want to end up waiting ages and ages to read this and forgetting everything about the first. Too bad I’m so easily di
  10. Susanna Kearsley, Named of the Dragon. Arthurian connection, you say? Set in Wales, you say? I’m there.

And probably all of these are going to appear again on my summer TBR, knowing me…

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted July 24, 2014 by Nicky in General / 0 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?
Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell) and a book about panic attacks. Both have been on my currently reading list for a while, so I’m actually super pleased about that. I have a lot of complicated feelings about Rainbow Rowell’s work.

What are you currently reading?
The Language Instinct (Steven Pinker) is at the top of my pile, since I’m hoping to get on and finish that. There’s a few ARCs I’ve apparently started all at once, too: The Vanishing Witch (Karen Maitland), which is so far very typical of her work; Yesterday’s Kin (Nancy Kress), which is currently reminding me of her novel Steal Across the Sky quite a bit; and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Thomas Sweterlitsch), which has me intrigued so far, but I’m not far into it yet at all.

What will you read next?
Like I’m not busy enough? Heh. Probably I’ll finish Darwin’s Ghost (Steve Jones), since that’s well past due back at the library, and then probably Genes, Peoples and Languages (Luigi Luca Cavella Sforza), since I’ve been reading Steven Pinker.

Fiction-wise, I’m thinking that I’m going to reread After the Golden Age (Carrie Vaughn) and then read the sequel, Dreams of the Golden Age, next. But there’s plenty of fiction I’m partway through, too, and some ARCs I should get to. Maybe A Suitable Replacement (Megan Derr), because I’ve been meaning to try something by Derr for a while.

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted June 21, 2014 by Nicky in General / 38 Comments

Good morning, folks. Once again I have acquired more books than anyone rightfully should, and can’t help but feel rather smug about that. But in the interests of stacking your shelves, let me just direct your attention to my giveaway post for Strange Chemistry/Exhibit A books here. Please link it to anyone you think will be interested: the authors concerned need our help right now.

Otherwise, back to your normal programming: Stacking the Shelves, as hosted by Tynga’s Reviews! This week with the theme I Just Got Paid So I Will Buy Everything, Who Cares About A Theme? Which isn’t as fun as buying all superhero novels all the time, but is still pretty fun.

Review copies

Cover of The Invisible Orientation by Julie Sondra Decker Cover of Nice Dragons Finish Last, by Rachel Aaron Cover of Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon

I’m kind of most excited about The Invisible Orientation, because I’m halfway through and it talks so much sense about the range of queerness that’s out there, never mind just asexuality. But I’m also interested in Rachel Aaron and Josh Lanyon: it’s been a while since I read any Lanyon, but there was a point when I read his books like candy.


Cover of The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris Cover of The Goldilocks Enigma by Paul Davies Cover of When a Gene Makes You Smell Like a Fish by Lisa Seachrist Chiu Cover of Ignobel Prizes by Marc Abrahams

Another sciency week, apparently. The first two are my srs reading, the second two fuel my love of knowing really random crap.


Cover of Ultimate X-Men vol 3 Cover of Ultimate X-Men vol 4

Actually Christmas presents from my partner, but Amazon didn’t deliver the third volume and so I didn’t want to feature the fourth until now. But here they are! Time for me to get myself educated on some X-Men stuff. (I picked Ultimates because I liked their appearances in Ultimate Spider-man.)

Bought (ebooks)

Cover of Sabriel by Garth Nix Cover of Lirael by Garth Nix Cover of Abhorsen by Garth Nix Cover of Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn Cover of Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly  Cover of A Soldier's Duty by Jean Johnson Cover of Straying from the Path by Carrie Vaughn Cover of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison Cover of Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach Cover of Clean Sweep, by Ilona Andrews Cover of The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne Cover of Glaze by Kim Curran

I rebought the Garth Nix books, which I love, because they’re finally out in ebook in the UK and Clariel will be coming out soon. Otherwise it’s a mix of recs or liking the author’s other stuff. I’m very glad now I got Glaze, considering the bad news about Kim Curran’s publishers for her other books.

Bought (dead tree)

Cover of The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar Cover of Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea Cover of City of Silk and Steel by the Careys

I’ve heard good buzz about the first two, I’ve liked some of Tidhar’s other work, and the third promises a more Arabian Nights than European setting, plus the first line is “Once there was a city of women.” Which is bound to catch my eye when I’m pretty sure it’s not referring to the Arthurian Castle of Maidens.

My plan for this next week is not to buy or borrow anything more, and take a leaf out of Under The Mountain‘s book and do Unstacking the Shelves.

So what’s anybody else been picking up? Don’t forget about my giveaways, and make sure to leave a link here when you comment on this post, so I can visit your blog in return!

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