Storm Fairy by Osamu Tezuka

Storm Fairy by Osamu Tezuka
Storm Fairy by Osamu Tezuka
Storm Fairy by Osamu Tezuka
Storm Fairy by Osamu Tezuka

Title: Storm Fairy
Scored a: B+
Status: Read the first story.


Gosh! What a lovely little fairytale. .

Little backstory: I got this book via a kickstarter run by Digital Manga/ as part of their ongoing project to publish tons of Tezuka’s work. My copy came with a collection of bookmarks and postcards as well as a cute lil’ Unico pin.

Anyway, here’s the summary of Storm Fairy:

Once upon a time, an Empress flees her burning castle to the nearby forest where she encounters a forest fairy. A deal is struck where in exchange for the fairy’s favor, the Empress must give up the face of her next born child. Thus, two girls’ lives become entwined: one has to wear a mask to hide her disfigured face, the other born with the face of the first. One night, a malcontent discovered Princess Ruri’s curse and steals her mask to put his own daughter on the throne. Ruri, now on the run, meets a samurai Tonosuke who decides to care for her. Hakobe, the fairy born with Ruri’s face, finds out the princess is on the run and decides to help her win back her kingdom, but little does she know, she wears the face of the one she’s trying to save…

I really liked this! Sometimes I’m not too sure with Osamu Tezuka’s work, it can become unexpectedly gory but this was the kind of fairytale story that I was used to as a kid before I was allowed into the old translations. Princess Ruri, Hakobe the fairy, Tonosuke the ronin, this was the sort of story I wish was as old as it felt so I could share it with everyone. It would have fit in perfectly with my shelves of fairytale books when I was a child.

The story is fast paced – it’s not what I’d call short and it felt like there was a new exciting development on every page. Osamu Tezuka’s art is unique, a fun cartoony style (part of why it’s so disorienting when it gets gory) that gets across the action with ease. Some of the scenes are downright adorable, like when Hakobe is thrown to the snakes. Really, it’s cute.

There is also a hot air balloon battle.

The reason I didn’t give it a full A is because I think it was just missing a tiny thing I can’t put my finger on to make it exceptional. But it’s definitely worth your time and money to get a copy. There’s some references in here I didn’t get as usual with Tezuka (keep that in mind when you read), but that’s not why I dinged him. These comics are old and I am young plus the whole cultural divide so it’s very likely it’s just something out of my personal experience.

I hope to read the next two stories, one about a girl detective and another about magic clouds, soon.


Other titles by Osamu Tezuka you may know:

Astro Boy
Princess Knight

The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones

Cover of Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones
Cover of Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones
Scored a: A-
Status: Finished!


The Homeward Bounders! I’ve been wanting to reread this for ages, but was unable to because it was region locked for sale. So during a trip to the USA my billing address magically changed to match my current IP and I got a lot of books I’ve been wanting for a while.

The plot of the book is Jamie sees something he shouldn’t – what appears to be two hooded figures standing over a map of the world in a strange room. As punishment, he is sent into other worlds with the promise that one day he may be allowed ‘back into play’ if he finds his way home. Until then no one can interfere with his journey, but there’s nowhere for him that he can belong. For every time one of the mysterious Them make a move, Jamie is forced into a new world.

Along the way he picks up two very important allies.

I really like this book and my only disappointment is that Adam (he shows up later) is never set on fire.

If I had to compare it to something, I’d say DnD and Sliders.

On the cover I chose, incidentally, the character most prominent is not Jamie. It’s a girl (one of the allies I mentioned) named Helen who has a very special gift and is coded as Pakistani, if that sweetens the pot for any potential readers.

What I really liked is how they managed to fit a preteen and an old man’s world-weary perspective into one character with Jamie. The story ends with the trademark DWJ ‘DONE NOW’ so don’t get your hopes up for anything lingering.

If  you’re into fanfic, this book crosses over with anything. Anything.

Its genre is that mix of sci-fantasy that DWJ does sometimes that I’m a big fan of.

A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones
Scored a: A
Status: Finished



A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones
A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones (this is the cover I grew up with)

The other time travel book I described! Through a series of mishaps, a little girl (Vivian) is kidnapped from a train station during WW2 when she’s on her way to the country and brought to a city that exists outside of time itself.

And that city is collapsing in on itself.

She teams up with a pair of boys native to the city (also her kidnappers) to save it.

There’s a lot of ‘oh wait, so THAT’S what that scene meant’ during this book, which is preceded by a lot of guessing about which bit meant which, as things get a little… timey wimey.

Why did I like this book so much? Lots of reasons, but the little details are probably what did it. The dessert that they all have a mad passion for,  42nd century butter-pie which sounds absolutely delicious when described in the book, and the time ghosts. The time ghosts are throughout the city. They’re important things that happened, emotional things that happened, repeated things that happened. And the whole concept was really appealing to me.

Also? There’s an android manservant to the family with atrocious taste and the clothes he helps pick out for Vivian were excellent.

The city itself is a brilliant creation. People from stabilized time periods with time travel (it seems to get discovered and outlawed off and on) come to study in the city, they have tourists, you can apply for citizenship, it’s just a really neat idea. A time country. I love this book.

Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones
Scored a: A+
Status: Finished


Cover of Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones
Cover of Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones (It actually took me a year to realize it had a face)

Hexwood was my favourite book for years and years. It didn’t fall out of favour with me so much as The Neverending Story fell into favour, but it’s still dear to me.

Hexwood is a book with a lot going on in it. And when you think you know the plot, it turns out you don’t. And even when I was rereading it with that fact in mind, it still totally side-swiped me, because my memory is terrible and I got caught up in believing the narration.

One of the plots is one day a young girl is very sick and notices that people are going into the Hexwood Farm and not coming out again, and she decides to investigate. In the process she gets caught up in an Arthurian legend. Then there’s all the other plots.

Diana Wynne Jones books have one major flaw, and that’s usually their endings. But in this case the ending is pretty solid and all the threads running around the story tie up together pretty tidily.

A problem with stories with a lot of moving pieces is they can leave you frustrated from the feeling things are being kept from you, but in the case of Hexwood you don’t get that feeling at all, as things aren’t kept from you, but things are added instead as things go on. You think you’ve got a stick figure and then it turns out to be an elaborate oil painting.  Like pieces clicking into place.

If you forget things like I do, this book has an excellent reread value.

Just a warning though, later on in the book is some pretty intense child abuse. Like Dogsbody‘s animal abuse it makes sense in context, but it’s fairly shocking. When I got to that part I had to stop and look at the ceiling for a while. I’d managed to totally forget that part.

I’m glad a lot of Diana Wynne Jones’ oeuvre has been made available digitally, as it allows me to revisit my old favourites since my paper books seem to continually shift around the house and into hiding.

Year of the Griffin

Title: Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones
Scored a: B
Status: Finished

Cover of Year of the Griffin
Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones

The sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm was a typical Diana Wynne Jones sequel, in that it was just elaborating the world the first one took place in and wasn’t a continuation of the struggle in the first. Definitely not a complaint, that’s part of what I love about her writing.

Now, you’ll notice this has a lower score than the first one but that’s because some of the brutality in the book didn’t seem to mesh with the writing in other sections, so it’s a technical score that lowered it.

This is also, apparently, a book where Everyone Gets Paired Off, Even The Cameos. But since none of the pairings are repellant, I’m not docking points for that.

So! The plot is that Elda, Derk’s youngest daughter and griffin (although not the youngest anymore. Still a griffin) has gone off to wizarding college. She meets up with five other students and becomes fast friends, but each one (except her) has people back home who’d really rather they not be there. By lethal force, if necessary.

On top of that, most of the teachers are incompetent and amoral.

The students are great. I loved them. The dwarf Ruskin and Claudia the marshlady were my faves that weren’t Elda. The teachers were a recurring ‘toxic authority figure’ that shows up in Diana Wynne Jones’ books a lot, but just because I’m used to that doesn’t make them less frustrating to read, because oh boy do I feel for the people they’re being inflicted on.

Like Dark Lord of Derkholm, Year of the Griffin had a more solid, if abrupt, ending than a lot of her books do. So. Huzzah.

And the premise, which was griffin goes to wizarding school, delivered. Oh goodness, did it deliver. The similar premise, ‘wizard raises griffins as own children’ from the first is what grabbed me the first time. I’m running out of Diana Wynne Jones books I haven’t read yet, but the stuff remaining has been real gems.

Oh god I miss Diana Wynne Jones she was such an amazing author.

If I could make a book wish, I’d like for her to have written another book about the adventures the other half of Derk’s family had that got mentioned as a ‘that’s where they are’ when Elda’s relatives would show up. Because it sounded neat. And I wanted to hear more of the continent of griffins. And more about Elda’s new little winged siblings.  But I do not get book wishes.

Anyway! The two griffin books are just aces. I totally recommend them.

The Dark Lord Of Derkholm

Title: The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
Scored a: A+
Status: Finished


The cover of Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones


When people asked me what I was reading, I said it was a book about a pair of wizards and their human and griffin children. This seemed like a good blurb! And I was right, people were immediately interested after that.

Sometimes I’d go further, and explain that it was about a magical world that had been enslaved by a man from a world like ours, to perform as a sort of magic theme park for tourists to have ‘magical quests’ and that it was actually pretty dystopic, and this was how the wizards and their children saved everyone.

I really really liked this. I needed this book after something terrible happened. I had actually been reading James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small which, given its plethora of dead animals, was the exact wrong book for me at that moment.

Something I really enjoy in stories is unconventional families, and races that are as smart or smarter than us, but look nothing humanoid, and wizards raising griffins hit that exactly. There is also, if this sweetens the pot, dragons.

Diana Wynne Jones is my favourite author for a lot of reasons, and one of them is that she can write a story with a lot of threads that all tie up tidily as the ending approaches. The ending itself can be hit or miss, but the moment where it all comes together is one of my favourite feelings when reading.

I warn you, if you read this, that there is an upsetting scene that could be read two ways, bad and horrifying, that happens to Shona, the older human daughter during the soldier escorting.  I had to put down the book for a few moments after that and I had been expecting it.

I had already purchased and begun the sequel, Year of the Griffin, before getting started writing this review. It’s about one of the griffins going to a wizard school. Yessss.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Fuan no Tane

A wight from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs ended on a sour note because I didn’t realize it was part of a series so the ‘TUNE IN NEXT TIME’ ending was more’n a little annoying.

That said, I liked it! Ransom Riggs is good at atmosphere, and his description of the world around Jacob is great. The vintage photographs used to illustrate the characters and concepts throughout are a nice touch.

The plot is, Jacob’s grandfather always told him stories about the magical children he grew up, as well as monsters he fought. When Jacob grew up, his father told him that the children’s magic was that they were Jewish, like Jacob’s grandfather, and the monsters were the nazis.

Then Jacob finds out his grandfather was telling the truth.

Like I said, I overall liked this and my only stylistic complaint is the mythos in the book didn’t mesh fully with itself.

The other thing I read was Fuan no Tane by Masaaki Nakayama without realizing I’d read a book until I was entering Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children into the spreadsheet and went ‘oh wait, that counted, didn’t it!’. It’s a collection of ghost stories in scenes, some stories no more than two pages. One of the stories is here, it takes place in a hospital.

Don’t expect an origin or explanation to the ghosts, it’s just a nice little capsule of horror. My favourite is early on, The Giant. I will enclose it in this post, since there’s no legal English version of this comic and I can’t just tell you to buy it.

Below is The Giant:
Continue reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Fuan no Tane

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents & Only Human

Read The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett years ago, the day it first came out in Canada. I went to the bookstore, bought it, went to the food court and finished it before I got home.

A couple years ago I got the audiobook, which is good but it was a couple ipods ago and I lost my place, so I figured for my challenge it would do perfectly (Book 63, I am now working on book 67).

It’s technically set in the Discworld, but except for a mention of some wizards and it taking place in Uberwald, it’s not a big detail.

The plot is Maurice, a talking cat, a bunch of talking mice, and a stupid looking kid are running a Pied Piper scheme and end up in a town where something really creepy is afoot. And there’s a girl named Malicia who likes to make up stories. In the audiobook she’s got this great sort of Transylvanian accent, which isn’t actually in the book beyond where she comes from, so I had to mentally put it there as I read.

Maurice is great narrator. He’s very much a cat, with cat priorities. And the rats are forming their own civilization bit by bit, and learning what it really means to think. It’s a pretty solid piece of kid’s fiction, and again if you’re worried about needing to know about the Discworld series, it’s not even relevant.

I also read Only Human by Tom Holt which was aggressively mediocre mixed with casual racism. And thus, Only Human has been rated a D.


Hell yes Bunnicula! Deborah and James Howe wrote a funny little story that I liked as much now as when I read it as a kid. Harold the dog is quite the narrator, with very typical dog priorities (although I went NO when I found out his favourite snack was chocolate cake) that make him pretty endearing, since it’s mixed with a mature, humanlike viewpoint.

To those not familiar with the plot, it goes: The family that Harold the dog lives with goes to see Dracula, and in the theatre seats they find a baby bunny and bring it home. The bunny is then named Bunnicula in honour of the film.

Chester the cat, the last character, senses something is immediately Not Right when white, drained vegetables start appearing…

A lot of the appeal of this book is the writing. It has Harold’s narration, Chester’s catlike ways of trying to stop a vampire rabbit, and really adorable descriptions of Bunnicula. The characterization of the family is pretty ace too.


The two covers of Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

This is a book I picked up because of the cover. See the first one? It’s quite nice. When I got the ebook version for easier reading, it had a new cover, the second one. Note how generic it is. Unfortunately, the second cover was the accurate one.

There was a somewhat interesting story hiding in Spellbinder by Helen Stringer, but it was overshadowed by the author’s inability to dole out information properly (the main method seemed to be that instead of saying something useful/expositiony, the people talking would get incredibly irritated, I am pretty sure the word ‘irritated’ appears in this book around five hundred times, and refuse to speak more) and near the end it all got a little frayed. There was a set up for a sequel but I couldn’t be bothered.

I will say, this would have made a pretty good video game.

Okay, the plot is: Belladonna Johnson’s parents died in a car crash, but she still lives happily with their ghosts. One day all the ghosts in the world disappear and it’s up to Belladonna to find out what happened.

I liked the premise, not so much the final execution. I think of the characterizations had been better (everyone seemed generally angry all the time) I would have enjoyed this book a lot more. I don’t regret my time reading it, but I can see how it could have been much better.