Books & anime for your solitary, locked-in-alone binging pleasure

I knew when I started writing about books and anime for Tor.com that I wanted to work on this article:

With horror fiction and horror anime both being such incredibly in-depth areas, we’ve narrowed it down to pairings of stories that focus on people and the relationships between them. While many of the stories possess paranormal elements, the real terror lies not in the monster you’ve barricaded out, but the person you’re locked inside with.

Find my four perfect pairings over at Tor.com. Fun fact: the first anime on the list terrified me so much I had to be removed from a Youmacon screening room in 2009, one of my favorite series of all time is the second, and the last involves something I’ve loved for quite some time — but you can read more online.

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I can put Murder Schoolgirls everywhere

Okay, so this isn’t TECHNICALLY about murder schoolgirls. Over at Tor.com, I’ve got a list of book & anime pairings for anyone looking for a great school story.

As a long-time fan of both speculative fiction and anime, one common thread I’ve noticed in both media is the enduring presence of The School Story. Plenty of fantasy readers make their grand entrance to the genre via a school fantasy story; for teens, who spend more time at school than at home, what other setting could tie the fantastic world to mundane reality?

You can find out what murder schoolgirls go best together what anime go best with your favorite school books over at Tor.com!

Everyone should read the new Miles Morales novel

I’ve been telling literally everyone who will listen to me about Jason Reynolds’ new Miles Morales novel, available now from Marvel Press:

At 16, Miles is concerned he’s destined to follow the same path as his father and his uncle, who both went in and out of jail as teens for petty crimes and more. His Spidey senses keep going haywire at the worst time: in the middle of history class, taught by a “subtly” racist teacher named Mr. Chamberlain who seems to have it out for Miles. And every mistake he makes at Brooklyn Visions Academy puts his scholarship — and his future — in peril.

Miles’ struggle in this story isn’t an exclusively superhuman one, and the fight against the Big Bad isn’t even one he truly needs superpowers to fight. (Although his superpowers definitely help. A lot.) His journey is an incredibly personal one: trying to figure out whether he deserves to be Spider-Man or if he’ll never be anything more than a criminal, which is how many of the school’s administrators treat him.

You can read my full review now at Girls in Capes.

Check out my most recent manga review at Girls in Capes

Find my latest review up now at Girls in Capes:

With that in mind, as a Madoka*Magica franchise fan, most of the mystery of the series evaporated. While that’s true of other spinoff series as well, the direct intersection of Oriko’s path with the plot of the main series is a major detraction from my engagement with the story.

Read more now.

Review: Beneath the Abbey Wall by A. D. Scott

When newspaper editor McAllister answered the door in the middle of the night, he had no idea what lay ahead of him. The news – that the business manager of the Highland Gazette had died – was only the beginning of a harrowing journey to answer two questions: who murdered Mrs. Smart – and who was she, anyway?

A. D. Scott’s third novel, Beneath the Abbey Wall, takes readers on a journey to the Highlands of Scotland, with moors and glens that make it quite a beautiful journey indeed.  Beneath the Abbey Wall is fast-paced and engaging, switching viewpoints between members of the newspaper staff to show many sides of the narrative.  The novel primarily follows editor McAllister and reporters Joanne and Rob as they attempt to unravel the mysteries surrounding the life and death of the business manager, Mrs. Joyce MacKenzie Smart.

Most fascinating about Beneath the Abbey Wall is the way Scott manages to entwine a murder mystery with social issues.  The concept of social class is difficult for some Americans to understand, as our nation was built on the idea of breaking class roles, but Scott deals with several relationships between people who stretch across social classes, whether those relationships are romantic or simply friendly.  Scott also discusses social problems such as domestic violence, suicidal tendency, postpartum depression, and the unlawful displacement of children by welfare agencies by using elements of each issue in her plot.

While Scott is able to weave an engaging tale of murder and intrigue, some issues arise regarding the limits of the novel: its constantly-switching perspective is at times annoying, and some of the characters make such poor decisions that it becomes difficult to like or respect them.  Scott’s foreshadowing is interesting and leads readers to suspect something different is afoot, but its ending is unsatisfying and even disquieting to some extent.

Beneath the Abbey Wall is an interesting historic mystery set in 1950s small-town Scotland, an exotic setting unlike any other, and its depiction of Scottish issues – most notably the Traveling people, a specific Scottish clan, and domestic abuse – makes for an interesting read.  Its engaging and interesting plot makes Beneath the Abbey Wall worth a look, despite the unsatisfying solution to the mystery of the novel itself.