books

Leah R. Cutter

Books

Paper Mage (2003)

Anthologies: Fiction River: Hex in the City (2013)

 

 

Paper Mage (2003)

Xiao Yen, hero of Paper Mage is a dutiful daughter, dutiful niece, and practicing paper mage. The book is set in the Tang Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom (China about the time of the European Middle Ages), and the magic is quite unlike any I have previously read. Parts of the book remind me of the Chinese folktales I have read, especially when the book refers to the Gods and Goddesses, as well as relations between men and women, but the magic is something I’d never come across in either a fantasy book or folktales.

Xiao Yen's power as a mage comes from her ability to create paper creatures using a form of origami, and then bring those creatures to life. The story is written with two timelines. Xiao Yen as she begins her first job as a paper mage, parallel to her life as she learns to become a mage. In this we have the story of how she manages in her first assignment, while we also learn her past as she develops into a mage. Throughout both timelines we see her struggle with her place in society as well as in her family.

There were, however, two things about the book that bothered me.

First was the fact this is a "woman's place in society" type book, which isn't a bad thing per se, but is not one of my favorite themes, as much as I love books with female leads. There is also a rape and revenge theme, which would make this book inappropriate for younger readers.

Second thing was that the relationship between the characters was very confusing, and the list of characters in the beginning was not necessarily a help. Mei-Mei and Wang Tie-Tie are the same person, and the relationship between Wang Tie-Tie and Xiao Yen is, I think that Wang Tie-Tie is Xiao Yen's aunt on her father's side, but an aunt who married into the family, she is, I think, Xiao Yen's father's brother's wife, who became head of the household after all the men were killed in an accident. This is both confusing to a Western frame of mind, and also fascinating. There is no blood relationship between the two characters, yet there is still a sense of family responsibility.

Despite those two minor issues, this is still an excellent book, and one I highly recommend reading. I'm quite curious as to whether this book is anything like what might be be found in China, or whether this is a concept that was developed from scratch so to speak.
Rating: 8/10

 

Anthologies

 

Fiction River: Hex in the City (2013) edited by Kerrie L. Hughes

Hex-in-the-City“King of the Kingless” by Jay Lake
“Speechless in Seattle” by Lisa Sliverthorne
“Thy Neighbor” by Nancy Holder
“Somebody Else’s Problem” by Annie Bellet
“A Thing Immortal as Itself” by Lee Allred
“Geriatric Magic” by Stephanie Writt
“Red as Snow” by Seanan McGuire
“Music’s Price” by Anthea Sharp
“The Sound of My Own Voice” by Dayle A. Dermatis
“The 13th Floor Problem” by Dean Wesley Smith
“Dead Men Walking” by Annie Reed
“One Good Deed” by Jeanne C. Stein
“Fox and Hound” by Leah Cutter
“The Scottish Play” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

This is another anthology I realized I wasn’t ever going to read all the stories in, so here is a review of the stories I did read.

...

“Fox and Hound” by Leah Cutter

Ages and ages ago I read Leah Cutter’s book Paper Mage and loved it. Then, for some reason, never ended up buying anything else by her (probably because it wasn’t anything I could find locally).

Now that I’ve read this, I really don’t know why I haven’t sought out more books by her.

Gou is a rickshaw driver in Hong Kong, and when he picks up a very unusual customer, he doesn’t accept things as they are.
Rating: 9/10 (based only upon the two stories I read)

Published by WMG Publishing, Inc.

 

Leah R. Cutter's website