Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Chupacabra's Song (Magic Ex Libris Short Story) by Jim C Hines

I find myself writing the same short story disclaimer with every short story I read – that I don’t generally like them and prefer if they add something to the overall series without being essential. I don’t think a series of books should require you to actually read every little e-short in the series. At the same time, a short story that’s just a random fluff tale without adding anything of substance to the larger series always leaves me thinking “well, why did I read this? What’s the point?”

Because I’m awkward like that

But this short story again shows how it can be excellently done – but using the book to tell some of the history and develop some insight into one of the regular side characters of the main plot:

Nicola was a very intriguing regular background character throughout the Libriomancer series and definitely one I wanted to know more about. Her magic, the magic of a bard, of music is definitely one I wanted to see expanded and explained in the same way that book magic was examined throughout the series.

I also loved Nicola herself. She’s autistic and that deeply informs her character, is a part of her character and personhood and very much part of her story, her interactions and her experiences. Yet at the same time she’s a person not just defined by her magic of being autistic. She’s also very powerful, very capable and you can see, even as a child, the core of the leader she becomes in the books.

She’s also a woman with her own agenda and opinions, not following on a party line or being guided or controlled by others. Even when manipulated and deceived, she finds the truth and deals with it decisively

Also we have a vet caring for chupacabras and some history behind why she keeps and breeds them as pets. Chupacabras as pets! How can you not love this?

It’s a book that adds a nice bit of flavour to the series – a perfect way a short story should work with a larger series – adding a level of nuance, details in areas that cannot be explored with the main plot, and a nice bit of insight and development to side characters.