Warriors of Alavna, by N. M. Browne. Children’s time travel or portal fantasy. The first few pages, with a popular boy and an outcast girl stumbling into another world or time, grabbed me despite some irritating word repetition. (Yes, I got that the magical yellow portal mist felt oily the first two times you mentioned it.) Keep.

Can’t Catch Me, by Michael Cadnum. Fairy-tale re-tellings in a charming voice. Definite keep, probable read soon.

The Oracle Betrayed, by Catherine Fisher. Extremely vivid first chapter, in which a girl in a fantasy ancient Greece enacts a ritual involving a brass bowl full of scorpions, to bring death to a god incarnate and rain to her land. Definite keep, probable read soon.

The Complete Fuzzy, by H. Beam Piper. Classic sf that I’ve never read. The opening had nice vivid worldbuilding, and also a playful tone, which I hadn’t expected. It seems fun. Keep.

Shadow Prowler, by Alexey Pehov. Epic fantasy translated from Russian. I have never read any Russian fantasy, so I was excited to read something different from American and British epic fantasy. Then I hit this, on page one: Fortunately, I have yet to run into the demons who have appeared in the city since the Nameless One began stirring in the Desolate Lands after centuries of calm.

Nevertheless, I persevered. And encountered this on page two: The rumor is that the artifact that has until now held the Nameless One in the Desolate Lands is weakening, and soon he will burst through into our world from that icy desert covered with eternal snow. War is approaching, no matter how hard the Order of Magicians and the multitudes of priests try to put it off. It's simply a matter of time. Six months, or perhaps a year—and then all those things they used to frighten us with when we were children will be upon us. The Nameless One will gather together an army and come to us from behind the Needles of Ice, and the horror will begin. Even here, in the capital, you sometimes come across devotees of the Nameless One. And I'm far from certain that the Wild Hearts of the Lonely Giant Fortress will be able to hold back the hordes of ogres and giants. . .

Unless someone wants to tell me that this is actually a brilliant satire, discard.
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