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Smugglivus 2010 Guest Author (& Giveaway): Freda Warrington

Welcome to Smugglivus 2010: Day 12

Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors, bloggers and publishers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2010, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2011.

Who: Freda Warrington, author of awesome fantasy. Blurbed by the likes of Charles de Lint and Tanith Lee, Freda is an evocative and prolific author with a flair for beautiful and surreal worldbuilding. Freda writes over at her , but also can be found on Facebook and at her own author website.

Recent Work: Freda Warrington is the author of nineteen (and a half) novels including Elfland, A Blackbird in Silver Darkness, A Taste of Blood Wine and Dracula the Undead. Elfland won the Romantic Times Award for Best Fantasy Novel of 2009, and her second novel for Tor, Midsummer Night, has just been published with another stunning cover by KY Craft. Check out Thea’s review of Elfland HERE.

Please give a warm welcome to Freda Warrington!

I don’t find nearly as much time to read as I’d like, so my precious reading time is usually an hour in bed before I go to sleep. Here’s a sample of some books I’ve enjoyed this year.

1) Chasing the Dragon by Justina Robson

“Elves don’t rock.” Oh yes they do! I’m really loving Justina Robson’s “Quantum Gravity” series (Keeping it Real, Selling Out, Going Under, Chasing the Dragon). Justina is known as a serious SF writer, but she decided to break out and have some fun with the adventures of the half-human, half-cyborg, all-action secret agent Lila Black. A mysterious quantum explosion has ripped the Earth into several different dimensions, making the worlds of demons, elves, faeries and ghosts accessible to us. The result is a delicious science fiction/ fantasy fusion the like of which I’ve never read before.

The beginning of Chasing the Dragon finds Lila married both to her demon lover, Teazle, and to her true love, Zal, the gorgeous elf rock star to whom she was first assigned as a bodyguard in Keeping it Real. Zal, however, has vanished, presumed dead after terrifying confrontations in the faerie realm, as told in the previous volume, Going Under. Lila must overcome multiple adversaries in the crazed and colourful demon realm, Demonia, and resist political pressure from her human “superiors”, and unravel the mysterious arrival of a fleet of ghost ships as reality starts falling apart – all before she can even think of rescuing Zal. The result is another dark yet fantastically entertaining adventure.

There is nothing clichéd about her elves, faeries or indeed her cyborg-yet-very-human heroine. Justina always writes with such inventiveness, intelligence and wit that her work never disappoints. I think there’s one more Quantum novel to come – I can’t wait.

2) The Third God by Ricardo Pinto.

This enormous novel is the long-awaited conclusion to the “Stone Dance of the Chameleon” trilogy. It’s over ten years since the first novel, The Chosen, came out, and at least five or six since book two, The Standing Dead. This is an epic story, but very far from yer standard high fantasy fare. Ricardo depicts an exotic society in which the self-styled “Chosen” race reigns brutally over the lands around them. The viewpoint character throughout the trilogy is Carnelian, a Chosen boy who’s lived most of his life in exile, but finds himself taken to the heartland of the empire, Osrakum, where he becomes embroiled in their beautiful yet revoltingly cruel society, not to mention thoroughly entangled in their politics. It’s an astonishing, unique and intricate world that Ricardo has created.

The Third God is a stunningly-detailed novel that brings the whole epic story arc to exactly the right conclusion. A word of warning, though – it’s not for the weak-stomached (eg. me). This is total warfare. Carnelian goes through battle after battle and we live every step with him. Although he’s waging war from a fire-spewing tower mounted on top of a gigantic dinosaur, he might as well be undergoing the claustrophobic misery of manning a tank, with the horrors of the WWI trenches piling up all around him. The horror is relentless. And just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do! The journey is worth taking – but I can’t honestly say I enjoyed it.

When I asked Ricardo what was the inspiration behind the Chosen, he replied, “The Chosen are us.” He’s said himself that the whole trilogy is actually an allegory of the West’s rape and exploitation of the Third World. That theme comes across very strongly. If you can bear to be immersed in an extended nightmare, the trilogy is an outstanding achievement.

3) The Winter House by Nicci Gerrard.

I was so exhausted by the time I finished The Third God that I felt “all fantasied out”, so to speak. I decided to relax instead with a simple mainstream novel. (Nicci Gerrard is one half of Nicci French, the British husband-and-wife thriller writing team whose books I always enjoy). But, oh no – my first reaction was, “great – this even more depressing!” It starts with a young woman, Marnie, being summoned to Scotland in winter by Oliver, a long-lost friend/lover, to help him look after another mutual old friend of theirs, Ralph, who is dying of cancer. Wonderful! Just what I need! However, as their back-story is told, I became enthralled. Everyone seems to be surrounded by death, tragedy and heartbreak and yet… it’s written with such tenderness that you feel moved and uplifted in the end. And how nice to read something with no murders and no crimes in it! A sad but lovely story, beautifully written.

The books on my to-be-read pile are an eclectic mix of old and new classics, and police procedurals passed on by my thriller-devouring husband. Here are a couple I’m looking forward to:

4) The King’s Last Song by Geoff Ryman

I picked this up at the recent World Fantasy Convention and it looks intriguing. Geoff is an amazing writer and I need to catch up with the novels of his I haven’t read yet. Set in Cambodia, it interweaves the ancient tale of that country’s greatest king with the adventures of three young modern Cambodians.

5) Sea-Kings of Mars by Leigh Brackett

This one’s been sitting by my bed for far too long! Published as part of Gollancz’s “Fantasy Masterworks” list, this is a collection of classic tales published between the 1940s and 1970s. I feel the need for some good old-fashioned exotic fantasy and SF.

Elfland and Midsummer Night

I hope you’ll have time to check out my novels from Tor – ELFLAND and MIDSUMMER NIGHT. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of creatures who look human but aren’t – elves, demons, vampires, angels, demi-gods and so on. The Aetherials evolved as my own version of such a race.

Now the second Aetherial Tale, MIDSUMMER NIGHT is due out, I’ve been thinking about its origins. Oddly, it’s been in my head for over ten years – I actually began writing an early version of it long before ELFLAND. The final version has evolved a lot since then, but it always pivoted around the same central character: a grande dame, a renowned sculptor in her sixties called Juliana Flagg. Of course there are younger folk in the story too, but I loved the idea of writing about an older woman with the magnificence of a dowager duchess and some dark secrets to unravel.

MIDSUMMER NIGHT is stand-alone novel, so you don’t have to read the first book to enjoy it. However, it is set against the same background – a contemporary world where the Aetherial race lives quietly (sometimes!) among humans, occasionally crossing into the Otherworld, aka the Spiral. Some of the fun I’ve had with the book lay in introducing the occasional character from the first novel, or a strand of plot that explores what seemed, in ELFLAND, to be just a throwaway reference. I hope readers will enjoy picking up on these small connections too, and thinking, ahah…

So, to the story. Decades ago, at the remote Cairndonan estate on a storm-lashed coastline where the veil between our world and the Aetherial realm is thin, Juliana’s uncle – a young man called Adam – vanished in mysterious circumstances. Now Juliana has inherited Cairndonan – did I mention I’m obsessed with huge, atmospheric old houses? – where she sculpts and runs a summer art school. However, all is not well, as she is plagued by ghosts, money troubles and her sinister ex-husband.

Then a young woman named Gill arrives to rent a cottage on the estate, in order to escape problems of her own. All Gill wants is solitude, but soon she’s entangled with the eccentric, flamboyant artist Peta, the creepy manservant Ned Badger and other residents of the great house – not least Juliana herself.

One day Gill accidentally wanders into a strange village called Boundry that appears on no map. There she meets the seductive Rufus and his equally gorgeous but silent, brooding companion, Leith. The encounter leaves her unsettled. Are these two young men as innocent as they seem – or are they poised to visit chaos, vengeance, death and heartbreak upon the human world?

Thank you, Freda! And now for the giveaway…

Giveaway Details:

We have ONE copy of Midsummer Night to give away to a lucky winner! The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada only, and will run until Saturday December 18 at 11:59 PM (PST). In order to enter, simply leave a comment here letting us know what your favorite contemporary fantasy/fairy/aetherial type book is. ONE comment per person, please! Multiple comments will be automatically disqualified. Good luck!

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  • Audra Holtwick
    December 12, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Lover Mine By JR Ward-it is awesome book 8 of a great series

  • Amanda Isabel
    December 12, 2010 at 7:17 am

    This is a fun interview! Thanks for it! I now have a longer TBR list …

    Please enter me in the contest! I have had my eye on “Midsummer Night” for a while!

    Right now, my favouirte Faerie type book is “Tithe” by Holly Black – I think it is just brilliant!

    apereiraorama @

  • Tina
    December 12, 2010 at 8:12 am

    I like Juliet Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing… a more contemporary fairy type of book that I love is Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones.

    Midsummer Night has such a lovely cover! It sounds like an awesome read. Thanks for the contest!

  • Lisa
    December 12, 2010 at 8:23 am

    I’d LOVE to win Midsummer Night since I have Elfland already! Thanks for the great giveaway!


  • Greg
    December 12, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Have wanted to read several of her selections and like the concept of the alien hidden among us. Will be looking for her Elfland novel.

    December 12, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Anything Holly Black writes, really.

  • Kelly L.
    December 12, 2010 at 9:42 am

    The Aetherial Tales are terrific books! Ms. Warrington, I’m always impressed by just how layered and rich with detail and completely addictive they are. I think they would have to be on any list I’d make of “best contemporary faerie books!”

    I also second the mention of Fire and Hemlock. Such an awesome book.

    (Don’t enter me though–I have both books already and I’m just here for the convo. I don’t want to steal someone else’s shot at them.) 😀

  • Marie
    December 12, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Whoa – loads of good suggestions here! *does happy dance* As for favorite contemporary fantasy/fairy-type books – I haven’t read too many, but I did like Rosemary & Rue by Seanan McGuire, though I haven’t gotten around to reading the rest of the series yet.

  • Kimberly B.
    December 12, 2010 at 11:05 am

    My favorite contemporary (loosely defined, as it’s almost 25 years old) fantasy/fae type novel is Diana Wynne Jones’s Fire and Hemlock.
    Thanks for the terrific giveaway! And congrats on having your covers by Kinuko Y Craft; her art always gets me to pick up a book!

  • Tiffany M.
    December 12, 2010 at 11:27 am

    For a fae-type book in the YA genre, I really enjoyed The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.
    For fantasy living on the edge of a more contemporary world, I really liked The Winter Queen by Patricia McKillip.
    For a more contemporary story, I enjoyed Eccentric Circles by Rebecca Lickiss.

    I would love to win a copy of your novel! Thank you! 🙂

  • Robin K
    December 12, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I am all about the mermaid books!

  • Amanda Lee
    December 12, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Ooh, this looks fabulous! As for favorites, I did love “Rosemary and Rue” and the other October Daye books, and of course, anything Holly Black writes is amazing.

  • Chelsea B.
    December 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a book about fairies!
    Beautiful cover!

  • SandyG265
    December 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Tithe by Holly Black

  • RK Charron
    December 12, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Hi 🙂
    Thank you for the great post Freda and on your recent release. Love the covers for your books too.
    My favorite contemporary fairy novel(s)?
    L.K. Hamilton’s Princess Merry series.
    All the best,

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    December 12, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I would love to read Mid Summer Night. Please enter me in contest.

  • Doreen R
    December 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Wow, I have not read a contemporary fantasy/fairy/aetherial type book yet.. 😳
    Yes, I’m blushing. I really want to though.

  • Bethie
    December 12, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Thanks for the giveaway. I haven’t read anything with Fairies. I was all about the vampires for son long and now I am into angels. I would love to start on fairies.

  • jennifer
    December 12, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    I really liked Tithe, by Holly Black, but my favorite fantasy/fairy/aetherial type book is Lament, by Maggie Stiefvater…

  • Maya M.
    December 12, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    I love the cover of this book – very mysterious and faelike.

    I’ve been very impressed with the Darkborn/Lightborn series, and I love Kate Daniels (does that count?)

  • Jen
    December 12, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    one book that comes to mind is “the last light of the sun” by guy gaveril kay. the setting of this book is sort of medieval nordic/english and it draws on some faery mythology for tone and characters. i’d recommend anything by GGK.

    i think i need to add some aetherial books to my list… midsummer night looks lovely!

  • Stephanie K.
    December 12, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I like Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning.

  • debp
    December 13, 2010 at 6:42 am

    This one would be my first. I am pretty new to this genre, (yes, I have been living under a rock)LOL. It sounds really good, I would love to read it.

  • Marie
    December 13, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Well, I blush to say that I still love the Meredith Gentry series by L. Hamilton.

  • Sarah C.
    December 13, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Hm. I think my favorite is Valiant by Holly Black.

    I’m loving the cover art for Elfland and Midsummer Night. I’ve yet to read a book with a Kinuko Craft cover that I didn’t like.

  • Shveta Thakrar
    December 13, 2010 at 9:26 am

    I see a lot of other people have already said Tithe, but I’ll echo them and add in the rest of the Modern Faerie Tale series.

    I already have Elfland and can’t wait to read it!

  • alana
    December 13, 2010 at 10:09 am

    I’m a huge fan of The Dresden Files. Doesn’t seem to get a lot of love from people, but I like it a lot. It’s also one of the few urban fantasy series I’ve read where the plot is constantly at the forefront (instead of romance).

  • vvb
    December 13, 2010 at 11:21 am

    so far i’m liking the wings series by aprilynne pike.

    i liked the review of chasing the dragon. i must check out the elf rockers ;-D

    btw: the elfland and midsummer night covers are gorgeous!

  • Becky
    December 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I really have only read a few fairy books so far, but I do like Karen Marie Moning’s series. I think the cover for Midsummer Night is wonderful!

  • SaraC
    December 13, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I love the October Daye books!

  • Su
    December 13, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I’ve recently become smitten by The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint. Thank you for the contest.

  • ThisViewOfMine
    December 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Hmm… At the moment my mind is drawing a blank. I cant say ive read much,if any, contemporary fantasy/fairy/aetherial. If i have its not coming to me at the moment. Midsummers Night sounds interesting. I’d like to check it out.

    But you have given me some books that i have to go check into some more. I love me some epic fantasy! And Chasing The Dragon, that sounds badass! The book set in Cambodia, sounds good. Amazon, here i come.

  • meredith g
    December 16, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I loved Holly Black’s books as well as the Wicked Lovely series.

  • Aik
    December 17, 2010 at 1:07 am

    I love The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa.

  • Marlene Breakfield
    December 17, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    I enjoy the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa.

  • CherylS22
    December 18, 2010 at 10:56 am

    My favorite now is a series by Carrie Jones – “Need”, “Captivate” & “Entice”
    Thanks for the giveaway…….
    Happy Holidays!

  • The Book Smugglers » Blog Archive » Smugglivus 2010 Book Review: Midsummer Night by Freda Warrington
    December 20, 2010 at 8:02 am

    […] Additional Thoughts: We’ve recently had Freda Warrington over for a guest blog this Smugglivus – make sure to check out what her favorites of 2010 were HERE. […]

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