Mar 30, 2013

Ditmars 2013 – Best Novel Comments

sea-hearts This is the first and hopefully not the last of my commentaries on this year’s Ditmars.  So without further ado lets take a gander at the Best Novel Category:

Best Novel
* Sea Hearts, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
* Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth (Random House Australia)
* Suited (The Veiled Worlds 2), Jo Anderton (Angry Robot)
* Salvage, Jason Nahrung (Twelfth Planet Press)
* Perfections, Kirstyn McDermott (Xoum)
* The Corpse-Rat King, Lee Battersby (Angry Robot)


perfections1_thumb[1] I have read those highlighted in bold and own the other two.  Such is the life of a reviewer, I often lament, never enough time to read the stuff you buy for yourself.  That being said, I would have bought everything on this list if I hadn’t received review copies… but then I wouldn’t have had time to review them :D

Get on with it Sean.

My thoughts on Sea Hearts are here and I haven’t changed my opinion.  If anyone casually dismisses the field of Speculative Fiction I’d shove this book into their hands. Margo’s Sea Hearts is a front runner.

bitter[3] I reviewed Bitter Greens and interviewed Kate Forsyth here. This book is a triple threat, it delivers are fairy tale retelling or unearthing.  Exposes the hidden historical personality of Charlotte-rose de la Force and helps chip away at our often misconceptions of the power and place of women writers. It entertains and educates and leaves us with an emotional connection, a sad parting of the ways at the end of the reading experience.

Suited has been languishing in my personal to read pile for far too long.  I was very impressed by Debris and Jo has been putting out cracking short fiction.  It is to my detriment that I have not found time to read this work.

Salvage I reviewed here.  Take out the supernatural elements and you have still got a great book that really gets into the blood and guts of a relationship riven by the death of a child/miscarriage. Moody and atmospheric Nahrung somehow manages to make location feel like we are wandering the moors and not a sunny Queensland coast.nahrungsalvage_thumb

Perfections I reviewed here. McDermott’s second novel and I think my favourite of hers.  Perfections was a subtle horror playing on the angst, the friction that families generate.  It’s easy to like or understand the characters in Perfections and that connection is where Kirstyn hooks the reader with tiny barbs and then tugs on them.

Lee Battersby is well known in the Specfic community, his recent sales to Angry Robot indicating that perhaps a wider audience is noticing his work.  Again its to my detriment that I haven’t been able to find time to read this one.



Those we didn’t get to see.

The competition is so fierce this year that there’s enough for ten good books on the above ballot.  So here are my picks for also worth reading:

  • Blood and Dust, Jason Nahrung, Xoum.
  • Besieged (The Outcast Chronicles 1), Rowena Cory Daniells, Rebellion Publishing.
  • Exile (The Outcast Chronicles 2), Rowena Cory Daniells, Rebellion Publishing.
  • Reign of Beasts (Creature Court 3), Tansy Rayner Roberts, HarperCollins
  • The Light Heart of Stone (The Promise of Stone 1), Tor Roxburgh, Curious Crow Books.
  • Pyrotechnicon: Being a true account of Cyrano de Bergerac's further adventures among the states and empires of the stars, Adam Browne, Coeur de Lion Publishing.

But even in selecting these books there are others that I think could make the list as well. All of those making the ballot should be very proud.

Who do I think will take home the trophy?

Trying to divorce myself from personal feeling and be objective.  Trying to ascertain the buzz and reach of the books.  I would have to say it’s going to be a close race between Bitter Greens and Sea Hearts.  But then again Salvage and Perfections are Australian Gothic Horror and if you’d asked me if we were likely to see horror novels in the best novel category I would have said it’s unlikely. I know that I will be agonizing over this category myself.

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