• The Fiction Fox

Magical Readathon Orilium: Autumn Equinox TBR

Bijgewerkt op: 3 aug.

My favourite readathon, the Magical Readathon hoste by Bookroast, is back in August for the Orilium Autumn Equinox. This has been the only readathon I’ve consistently participated in over the past few years, and the combination of the depth of work the creator has put into this, as well as the wonderful community it has gathered over the years, has made it a joy to join every time. Because of all the work put into the creation of this readathon, I won’t give you some pale excuse for an summary in my own words. Instead I’d like to redirect you towards G from Bookroast’s youtube channel as well as the Orilium Twitter, where she explains everything for new participants as well as returning readers.

As this is Semester 2 of this years rendition, I’ll also link my previous TBR in which I talk about my overarching goals and character-build. Links to all of G’s resources including a full prompt-list, as well as my own post with suggestions for books to fulfill the more tricky ones will be linked at the bottom of this page. With all that out of the way; let’s get into a short summary of my character and her progression thus far, and my TBR that will set her on her way for Semester 2.


Character Summary:


Meet Lyra, hailing from a small town in the deep Wild Forests of Aeldia. She comes from a long line of passionate herbalists and apothecaries, to whom natural magic and the art of potion crafting seem second nature. However, after years of being an apothecary’s apprentice, Lyra’s ambition has outgrown their small village. Fascinated by the art of combining natural ingredients to make potions, she wants to study a similar technique on bigger scale. This sent her on her journey to the Orilium-academy with dreams of becoming an Alchemist: a highly ambitious career, in which she’ll learn to combine the very elements of nature to craft magic itself. Throughout her previous challenges (her Gear-up, the Novice Path and the Spring Semester at the Academy) she joined the Guild of the Crescent and has reached Assistant-level.


Autumn Equinox challenges:

To progress in her career as an Alchemist, Lyra will need to complete the following subjects: An O in Animal Studies, An O in Astrology, a D in Alchemy, a D in Inscription, a Q in Spells&Incantations, an O in Restoration, an O in Demonology and a Q in Lore. This adds up to a total of 14 books for me to complete during the months of August, which will be a challenge, but considering I’ll have a week of vacation might be doable.


Prompts and TBR:


Animal Studies

O: Study of Familiars: a book with animal companions

Leila and the Blue Fox by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Feston

When animal companions were mentioned, my mind immediately went to middle-grade, and from there to an ARC I've aquired recently that I'm paticularly excited for. Leila and the Blue Fox is the “spiritual sequel” to Julia and the Shark, in which author-illustrator couple Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom the Feston joined forced to bring the natural world of the ocean to life. In Leila and the Blue Fox, we change focus to arctic mountains and frozen oceans, following the parallel journeys Leila and the titular arctic fox, both in search of a “home” of sorts… If this is even close to as good as Julia and the Shark, I’m happy to have my emotions trampled on once again…



Astronomy

O: Lillivae: a book with the letter L in the title

Venomous Lumpsucker by Ned Beauman

There’s something about matching a clearly beautiful word like “Lillivae” with a title like “Lumpsucker” that is strangely funny to my brain. I’ve recently discovered a new-found enjoyment for speculative eco-thrillers, so the recently released Venomous Lumpsucker sounded like it might scratch that itch. Following an unlikely team of a conservationist and a corrupt capitalist mining executive on a mission to save the titular fish from extinction, this promises to be a darkly funny track through the weird and ravaged landscape of the 2030’s climate-changed world.



Alchemy

O: Basics of Poison: a book from someone else’s “worst-list”

They Drown Our Daughters by Catrina Monroe


From the same BooksandLala-video series I took her “biggest disappointment” of last month. The reasons for her disappointment (this being more of an atmospheric family story about personal haunting than an actual horror novel) made me even more excited for it. With a name like Cape Disappointment, what else could Meredith Strands hometown be, but haunted? Meredith thought she had escaped the Cape years ago, but an acrimonious split from her partner, and her elderly mums recent diagnosis of early-Alzheimers disease, sends her and her daughter right back to the gloomy shores where she grew up. Immediately, the town and its grey shores regain their grip on Meredith. With coastal mists fogging up the edges, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern whether the familial curse that has lingered on the Strands is generational, or supernatural in nature…

Q: Acidic Amber: a book with an orange cover

To be Taught if Fortunate by Becky Chambers

I feel like Becky Chambers barely need an introduction in the sci-fi/fantasy community these days, with her pension for writing short character-driven sci-fi novella’s that have the impact of a novel twice their length. Perfect readathon material therefore! To be Taught if Fortunate is set in a future where science has made a recent breakthrough in spaceflight, that enables the exploration of exoplanets like never before. Ariadne is one such space explorer, send on a mission to survey four exoplanets that might harbour life. She and her fellow explorers spend their time in transit in cryo-sleep periodically waking for maintenance, each time with different features and bodily characteristics as a side-effect of their suspension. Ariadne chronicles her journey through time, space and form, as she finds not only herself and the crew, but also the Earth she’s left behind become increasingly unrecognisable.


D: Willoweed: a one-word title

Yonder by Ali Standish

I think I may have included an Ali Standish novel in all of my previous Magical Readathon TBR’s over the last few years, and I have yet to be disappointed by any of her works. Ali Standish writes hard-hitting middle-grade fiction about with a focus on themes of family, friendship and navigating difficult home-situation in many forms. Where her previous books have all taken place in contemporary times, Yonder is her first sidestep into historical middle-grade. Yonder follows the friendship between two boys, Danny and Jack, against the background of 1940’s World War II Appalachian. When Jack disappears, Danny embarks on a journey to find his best friend. His only two leads are his suspicion that Jack’s father may have been abusive towards him, and the mention of the magical place called “Yonder” that Jack used to escape to. If this is anything like Standish’s previous works, this promises to be a heartbreaking, but stunning story that might become a new favourite within the middle-grade age-range.


Spells and Incantations:

O: Spell of Recolour: use a colour-wheel to determine the colour of the cover of your next read

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance – Emmie Ruth Lang

This was such a creative prompt that I’ve never seen in a readathon before. My colour-wheel roulette landed on "night blue"; RGB 37-040-080 for anyone who cares. It immediately reminded me of the beautiful night-sky cover of Beast of Extraordinary Circumstance. To be completely honest; this book has been on my shelves for years now, and could’ve fit the prompt for the Banishing Spell (at risk of being unhauled) or Enchanted Scroll Mending (oldest book on your TBR) as well by this point. Still, the premise remains interesting to me: a magical-realist tale of a young boy with unique powers over nature, and the way he touches the lives around him.


Q: Incantation Echo: pick a book from someone else’s TBR

The Women Could Fly – Megan Giddings

At the time of writing this, I hadn’t seen any Orilium-specific TBR’s uploaded yet, so I picked a book from the last TBR-video I watched on Youtube, which was by Kayla from BooksandLala where she mentioned her ARC of The Women Could Fly. Since I have the same ARC that requires reviewing this month, I thought it was a perfect match.

The Women Could Fly is a speculative, dystopian novel, set in a world where witches are real and women are closely monitored for “suspicious behaviour” (such as being single, God forbid…). We follow Jo, a woman at constantly at risk of being suspected of witchcraft, on her journey to discover the path of her own life. The path behind her, by researching the faith of her mother who disappeared yeas earlier without a trace, and the path before her, by finding out what she wants in life, outside of societal expectations.



Inscription:

O: Glyph of recollection: reread a childhood favourite

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

If the fact that I put this reread on my Master-TBR for 2022 ánd named my character after this series protagonist weren’t enough already, then this prompt pushed me over the edge to finally pick this childhood-favourite back up for a reread. Although I’m planning on rereading the entire trilogy soon, I’m not putting this 1000+ brick of a bind-up as one entry. Instead I’m only pledging to reading the first book The Golden Compass (also published under the title The Northern Lights). Hopefully the second and third will follow later this year.



Q: Inking techniques: a graphic novel, comic or manga The Monstrous Dreams of Mr. Providence by Daria Schmitt I have a confession to make: I have never been able to get into manga/graphic novels. I’ve tried on multiple occasions, but I’ve never actually enjoyed a single one of them. I love illustrations and art, and wanted to like this genre, but as a form of consuming stories, it’s something that just doesn’t work for me. Originally therefore, I did the same as I did in my recommendations list, and altered this prompt to include illustrated novels as well (in fact I had Leila and the Blue Fox down for this one). Then one of my friends convinced me to try a graphic novel one last time, and I caved. So here we go, I’m trying one final time, because the illustrations looked so stunning flipping through it. I’m reading The Monstrous Dreams of Mr. Providence by Daria Schmitt, a graphic novel about the titular caretaker of a seemingly ordinary city park. Yet when night falls; the mysterious entities that make the park their home emerge, and providence must protect its visitors, despite the doubts of his corporate-minded new manager.

I have no idea what to expect, so take any opinion I have on this with a huge pinch of salt, as this is about as far outside my comfort zone as I’ve ever gone for a readathon.



Restoration:

O: Object Restoration: a single object as the focus on the cover

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

To keep this TBR semi-manageable I knew I had to include some shorter novels as well, so I went scouring my Goodreads-shelves for a shorter book to fit this prompt. Up came Fever Dream's horse-cover by Samanta Schweblin, a story that I know very little about, but have been intrigued to read for quite some time now. Feverdream is the tale of a young woman, lying dying on a hospital bed in a rural clinic, and the boy sitting by her side. He is not her son, she is not his mother. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family. I realise this is very little to go off, but accounts of hospital-acquired deliriums are fascinating to me, especially since my time working on an ICU-ward and talking with patients about their experiences with them. I’m hoping Fever Dream will capture those vibes.



Demonology:


O: Imp Wrangling: a fantasy novel

Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse

To stick with the “theme” of fever: I’m sooo excited to finally have my hands on Fevered Star. This is the much anticipated sequel to Black Sun, one of my favourite fantasy-reads of last year, so you can bet I was going to find a way to weasel this one into my TBR somehow. Luckily, there was an easy prompt for it. To avoid any spoilers for book one, I won’t give you a synopsis, but I’ll link Black Sun as well as my thoughts on it here.




Lore:

O: Aeldia’s Regional Anthropology: a book that has the same colours as your country’s flag

Lean Stand Fall by John McGregor

This was probably the hardest prompt to match, as my flag (the Netherlands) is red, white and blue, and very few covers have all three of these colours. Eventually I found one at the library that happened to be on my TBR already: Lean Stand Fall by John McGregor. This latest release by the author of Resevoir Thirteen revolves around an arctic exploration gone horribly wrong, and the physical and emotional fallout that follows for the man involved as well as his family, who must now step into the role of caretaker. I’ve heard it to be a book about caretaking, about language and storytelling, heard it compared to Night Sleep Death The Stars by Rachel Carol Oates, and all of it combined got be even more excited to read it and find out for myself.



Q: Myths of Syldoris: a story featuring betrayal

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado


Another difficult prompt to fit, as I feel like knowing a book features betrayal might spoil some plot elements. However, the perfect fit did come to mind fairly quickly, as what worse form of betrayal exists than domestic/relational abuse exacted by a loved one. That is exactly what Carmen Maria Machado tackles in her memoir. Knowing that these are someone’s real experiences will give it a completely different, and difficult dimension compared to reading about fictional betrayal, but I feel up for the emotional challenge.



Links to resources and references for the Magical Readathon:

BookRoasts Announcement Video on Youtube

Google Drive including all printables and prompt-sheets

Magical Readathon Twitter

Orilium Discord