My kid is an enormous Ursula Vernon fan. By "huge" I mean badgers me relentlessly to read Digger, her comic which has been nominated for the Hugo, among many other awards.
I keep swearing I will, when I have more time, which who knows, some day I might have more time. (I have trouble reading graphic novels, as I may have mentioned a time or fifteen on this blog. I can do it, it's just difficult for me to read texts and pictures at the same time.)
Anyway! Today she came to me with the gleeful news that Vernon had a print story out, Nine Goblins. How cool! Now I could experience the joy of Vernon for myself!
I have read Vernon, and I am here to tell you the kid is right. You should go and read likewise.
Nine Goblins is a novella, and Vernon has published it under a pseudonym, T. Kingfisher. It's a ripping yarn, so it has that going for it; and very funny; but also populated with interesting characters, none of whom are stock characters, and it has something to say.
The main characters, the goblins, are the best characters: they're all in the goblin army (the goblins have gone to war against the humans, who have been encroaching on goblin land for some years now) which is a story in itself, the goblin army. Sergeant Nessilka, our main character, I suppose: she has command of our squad; Murray, who's more or less her second in command, and a goblin genius; Blanchett, who suffers from either PTSD or something more interesting, and whose captured teddy bear talks for him; Algol; the twins; and all the rest.
There is also an interesting elf, Sings-to-Trees, a very un-elf-like elf.
This is what Vernon does well here: takes the cliche, and plays against it. She gets compared to Pratchett, and I can see why, since he does something of the sort, interrogating the fantasy tropes by playing against them; and since his works are also funny. Pratchett's humor is sometimes very wink-wink-nudge-nudge, though, a kind of see-what-I-did-there-HA-HA. Vernon never falls into that trap.
We also feel for and with her characters in a way I only sometimes do for Pratchett's characters. This is a novella, and it feels too short -- I wanted more -- but everything that is here it fully realized. The world-building is great, the characters fully developed, the pacing perfect.
I'm just hoping this is only the first in a series.
23 hours ago