Childhood Favorites: The Teenage Years
Last week I blogged about my childhood favorite stories and series. This week I bring you part 2 where I describe the novels that got to me in my teens. Again, in no order.
1. The Merlin trilogy by Mary Stewart
Mary Stewart was famous for her thriller romances in exotic locales (man, Madame will you talk? is a brilliant debut and brilliant title). In the 70s she surprised everyone with her Merlin trilogy, an imagining of the King Arthur legend from Merlin’s first person perspective. In this series, there is a focus on historical realism over fantasy and magic, and I have the entirety of the series to thank for my obsession with the historical basis for the legend. As a young teen, I liked The Crystal Cave best with some of The Last Enchantment (with the sexually promiscuous Morgause) also an eye-opener at that age. I thought the ending to the series in The Last Enchantment was particularly beautiful.
You can buy the entire trilogy from Book Depository
2. The Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies by Melanie Rawn
Sometimes I wonder at my mother. There was A LOT of sex and violence in these books and I lapped up every moment. My favorite characters by a long shot were Sioned and Rohan and I liked the original trilogy more than the second because of this. One of the first times magic and dragons felt well done for me. People accuse these books of being soapie, and I guess to some extent they are, but there were (and still are) moments of genuine emotion for me, particularly around Pol mucking everything up and Andry too. I liked the combination of Machiavellian politics and magic and in the first book, Roelstra and his children sure were terrifying villains.
You can find the entire series on Book Depository starting with Dragon Prince
3. The Deverry Saga by Katharine Kerr
I don’t much care for this series past The Fire Dragon (which in my opinion was the perfect place to end the saga), but I did love this series to death as a child. My favorite sections were the ones where Rhodry and Jill had adventures and bested the dark dweomer as silver dagger outcasts and I think the series lost its lustre when Kerr pulled back from this. I understand she wanted to get away from the swords and sorcery generic trope, but she was onto a good thing with those two.
This series pulled at my heart strings like no other. I cried a lot. I wanted to throw books across the room a lot. There are still lines I can remember off my heart because in my opinion they were just that damn good. I’ve written poetry about Jill. I’ve participated in livejournal comms and started livejournal blogging as a result. I even won a signed copy of The Silver Mage. I still re-read this series up to The Fire Dragon every couple of years. Also Arzozah is the best dragon personification I’ve read in fiction ever. Period.
Again, Mum, not sure how I got away with these. There were rape, incest, sex, blood sacrifice, graphic battle and death scenes galore. But they all served a purpose and were necessary to the story.
You can find the first book in the series, Daggerspell here
4. Agatha Christie crime novels
I was bored at my grandma’s once and found a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd to read. The shock ending caught me well out and I was sold on the genius Christie ever since. Endless Night made quite an impression, scarring me a little for life and it is probably still my favorite Christie. And Then There Were None, Halloween Party and The Clocks also made strong impressions.
My love for Christie never died. I still re-read her on and off and I am currently in the process of re-reading all of her novels in publication order. I’m up to the 1940s and will blog my least favorite to most favorite Christie’s once I finally finish (see you in another three years, interested reader). In 2016 when I met with a friend in London, it was a dream finally fulfilled when we saw The Mousetrap together.
My favorite Christie by a long shot is Endless Night and you can find it here
5. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Anyone who has ever met me knows I like this series A LOT. The Netflix show will be reviewed on this blog shortly. I have reviewed Snicket’s newer series All The Wrong Questions before. I was going through a tough time as a carer and my Mum and Dad divorced and my Granddad died when I was 15. I found it oddly comforting to know that those three children had it worse than me. I loved trying to solve Snicket’s tantalizing asides, the word play and the absurdism too.
The Bad Beginning and the next few in the series may be a little formulaic, but it’s best to start at the start. You can purchase the first book here
6. The Sevenwaters trilogy by Juliet Marillier
I’m sure my best friend, Tegan, would agree with me; this series by an Australian author is seriously good! Beautifully written, full of good research, beautiful romances and held together within an Irish first person oral story telling framework, this is some of the best modern fantasy you’ll ever read. Daughter of the Forest must be one of the strongest fantasy debuts ever penned and is my favorite of the series. There’s one scene that is brutal and is guaranteed to make you cry or throw the book across the room. Anyone who’s read this will know the scene I mean. Keep going. It’s a scene with purpose. Trust me. The trilogy’s end in Child of the Prophecy is one of the best fantasy endings to a series I’ve ever read too.
Find Daughter of the Forest here
7. Harry Potter
What can I say about this series that hasn’t already been said? I didn’t much like the series post Book 5, but there’s no denying the power of the original Potterverse. How I longed to visit Honeydukes and drink butter beer, or journey through Diagon Alley. How I wished I’d get a letter from Hogwarts (I did once. From the President of UOW Harry Potter Society anonymously I believe). I lined up at crazy hours to get the next book in the series and stayed up all night to avoid spoilers (how dare people spoil Dumbledore’s death in book 6!). I got to see the first two films with school as a library monitor and the last two on exchange in the UK(!). I’ll never forget the surreal experience of sitting in a packed theatre at Oxford to watch the final film and the sound of tissues rustling and everyone sobbing their hearts out at the Snape mini film section.
After all this time?
You have a heart of stone if that doesn’t get you. I made a lot of friends through this fandom and did a lot of crazy things (like dress as Boggart Snape for a Yule Ball Party once).
I’m not bothering to link to Harry Potter. If you don’t already own it there’s something wrong 😉
Honorable mentions: Everything by Isobelle Carmody but especially the Obernewtyn series and Alyzon Whitestarr. I only omitted her because I included her in my tender years too. Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. The tried and true staples: The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings.