Mogworld, Yahtzee Croshaw. Fantasy/satire where the NPCs in an online game that is certainly not World of Warcraft have become self-aware AI. Much black comedy with zombie protagonists (no wonder I like it), and the narrator is a decent trickster on occasion. In this as in the first Johannes Cabal book by Jonathan Howard, there's an annoying amount of intentionally-overwritten simile and metaphor, which is meant to be funny but which drops out of my mind like a badger off a billiard cue. Just because Douglas Adams did it doesn't mean you should too. Flawed but fun and occasionally moving.
Usher's Passing, Robert R. McCammon. Reread of a pulp-horror/supernatural thriller/Southern gothic/who the hell knows, which I encountered the first time as a young teen. It holds up wonderfully well in its batshit insanity. The Ushers of Poe fame were real people, and the current dynasty are Southern gentry who run a multibillion-dollar armaments business and suffer from a degenerative disease. Also there are cannibals, incestuous twins, telekinetics, Satanists, evil buildings, a black demon panther named Greediguts, and a murdering urban-legend called the Pumpkin Man, and at one point someone bites off someone else's tongue. Moral dissonance that I didn't notice last time: the narrative tells us that a minor villain is evil because he is the recruiting agent for "a freakshow," but on the other hand he beats his wife and holds her prisoner and no one in the story cares.
Wizard of the Pigeons, Megan Lindholm. A Vietnam vet currently called Wizard roams the streets of Seattle and battles evil in the form of criminals, human misery, and his own previous personality. Annoying inconsistencies between highfaluting fantasy-speak and plain-bread writing style get better as the book goes on. When it gets realistic it doesn't mess about, much like the last scenes of Life of Pi. The only book I can remember reading where the happy ending is for a character to return to his magical alternate personality and stay there; almost everywhere else the message has been, "Be a big boy and grow up and get used to facing the hard cold cruel world." A refreshing change of pace.
A Princess Of Roumania, Paul Park. Oh my god this was boring. The author has a cool secondary-world premise (we're the secondary world, made up by a witch in the Real World to hide the True Heir of the Kingdom) but throws it away on characters who bumble around with no motivation and a bloated style. The villain is the only intriguing character, and she wants to be Mrs. Coulter from His Dark Materials even though Mrs. Coulter is already Mrs. Coulter. The Chosen One lives in an unnamed WMass town, recognizable as Williamstown; this would be interesting if the Chosen One weren't a numbskull. Once they enter the Real World, the Chosen One's best female friend turns into a big dog, and her best male friend into a fighter with a giant Hellboy-style hand of power, and no one says much about either of these things.
Joe Golem and the Drowning City, Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. Parts of Manhattan have been below water level for decades, but New Yorkers are dealing with this and with organized crime, tentacle monsters, mad scientists, evil trees, and humanoid eels. A clockwork cyborg who is most definitely not Sherlock Holmes with the serial numbers filed off, and a big stoic guy named Joe whose past is a mystery, help spunky teenager Molly McHugh track down her kidnapped mentor and defeat Not-Doctor-Moreau. I was tickled to see a hint that this takes place in the same reality as Baltimore, by the same authors. Baltimore is a tough act to follow, and Joe Golem is a lot simpler, its world less explored. Lots of pulp-action fun.
The Children of Llyr, Evangeline Walton. Retread of the branch of the Mabinogion where Branwen marries some godawful Irish guy. By far the most gruesome, tragic, and death-heavy story of the four branches: everyone in Ireland dies toward the end, except for the Welsh protagonists and a handful of Irish women who hid in a cave before the