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Summer in Orcus by T Kingfisher
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Summer in Orcus

by T Kingfisher

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908209,746 (4.35)5
"Summer is a perfectly ordinary 11 year old girl with a perfectly ordinary, needy, over protective single mother. Summer loves her mother and would never dream of running away, but wonders deep down if it wouldn't be nice to escape for a little while and do something adventurous ... maybe? Baba Yaga comes along in her magical walking house and offers Summer her heart's desire. Summer has no idea what this might be, but with the lighting of a frog-shaped beeswax candle she finds herself transported to the strange would of Orcus with nothing but a weasel in her pocket. She's read a lot of fantasy books about people thrust into strange lands; but they usually seemed to have has some idea what they were supposed to do there."--Back cover.… (more)
  1. 00
    The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For middle-grade readers who like mouthy protagonists who ignore naysayers: Because if Tiffany (age 9) isn't going to get help from any adult, she'll solve this on her own.
  2. 00
    Half-Witch: a novel by John Schoffstall (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For mature middle-grade readers interested in smart protagonists and crappy parents: Because Lizbet (age 14) ends up showing a lot of people the worlds on the other side of doors.
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» See also 5 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Oh, lovely. I didn't read it online, this was my first reading - and it's as good as I expected. A portal fantasy with some lovely twists. I like Summer, and her collection of allies are rather neat (each and all). The quest(s) are very interesting - how one builds upon another; the villains are varied and have interesting motivations. The author mentions that Orcus is where she stuck all the bits that wouldn't fit into any other story; the people of Orcus are perfectly well aware that it's a land of many bits, and cultures, and creatures of various sorts. There's quite a bit of meta, which is fun - Summer frequently refers to Narnia and other portal fantasies as she tries to figure out next steps. It's beautifully open-ended - hope she does get to go back! I'd certainly read it. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Nov 22, 2018 |
Worldcon 76 Award for Best Young Adult Book Nominee
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
A fun, YA fairy tale story with a great female protagonist. It is a portal fantasy story of a young girl meeting Baba Yaga and being teleported to a world full of talking animals and other oddities. It reminded me a bit of Alice in Wonderland. It is a cute story that blends YA and adult themes very well. ( )
  renbedell | Sep 10, 2018 |
Summer in Orcus was technically a finalist for the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, but I'm not sure it's YA per se, for two reasons. One, the protagonist Summer is 11, which skews a bit more middle-grade, and two, T. Kingfisher (a.k.a. Ursula Vernon) actually wrote the story for an adult audience, namely herself and her Patreon backers.

But anyway, it's the story of Summer, who's sent into a fantasy world called Orcus by Baba Yaga and ends up going on a quest, meeting a number of distinct and vivid characters on the way. I grew up reading portal-quest fantasy, and I love the stuff. This isn't quite my flavor: Orcus feels more like a mythology and less like a place, if that makes any sense. Like, I like those fantasy lands where one draws maps of kingdoms and continents, like Oz and Middle-earth, or at least could do so, like Narnia. Orcus is more a collection of mythologies, which I don't like quite as much.

Still, that's picking too much at something that's basically a whim of preference. I really enjoyed this. Summer is a good protagonist, the daughter of a single mother who sometimes feels oppressed by her mother who ends up travelling to another world and meeting a variety of travelling companions, including a werehouse (a wolf that transforms into a house) and, my favorite, Reginald, a bird who is a bit of a fop; if you imagine him being voiced by Hugh Laurie in his Wooster mode, it works perfectly.

The book is filled with a lot of charm, a lot of clever concepts, some metafiction, and a lot of jokes. I really liked how things resolved. Summer, like a lot of child portal-quest protagonists, succeeds through being nice and attentive (I'm thinking of Baum's characters here), and I enjoyed her attempts to decode what her role in events was, and respond to the needs of those around her without being duped. Like I said, I liked Reginald, and I also enjoyed the entire visit to his family's estate and the associated civilization. Kingfisher does some nice extrapolation: Baba Yaga's walking house becomes the basis for a land filled with walking houses, where houses you have to build yourself are inferior. The villains are well-drawn and interesting and have relatable motives. Summer herself has read Narnia, and those books are occasionally invoked as she tries to work out what's going on, and often the narrator will deliberately subvert your expectations of the genre. And as things like "werehouse" indicate, there's a good line in puns (one of the things the narrator makes fun of, actually), but there's also some gentle character humor in the way the members of Summer's weird little group interacts.

The end promises a sequel; I would definitely read it if it was written, and I think the deepening of the land by coming back years later would even rectify my primary objection.
  Stevil2001 | Aug 31, 2018 |
https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3025069.html

This is a nice quest narrative / portal fantasy, with eleven-year-old Summer transported by Baba Yaga to the world of Orcus where there are aristocratic birds, untrustworthy antelope women, and a shape-changer who inconveniently alternates between wolf-form and being a small comfortable cottage (and is therefore pursued by house-hunters). Even the villains turn out to have comprehensible motives, which is rare for this sort of book. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | Jun 17, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
T Kingfisherprimary authorall editionscalculated
Henderson, LaurenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Once upon a time there was a girl named Summer, whose mother loved her very very very much.
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