Key/Egg Reviewed in the Current Issue of F&SF, Eight Years After Publication


Today I’m writing about something I never expected and which I still don’t know how to think about it. I mean, I have literally spent the last ninety minutes starting and deleting this post. 

After Circle of Enemies, I wanted to write something that wasn’t quite so dark and mournful. Even though I had more Twenty Palaces books in mind, I wasn’t ready to continue working in that style and tone.

Therefore: A Key, an Egg, an Unfortunate Remark, which most of you reading this already know is a pacifist urban fantasy with a main character in her sixties who is a cross between Gandalf and Auntie Mame. In a genre that has sometimes felt like a series of Mike Hammer novels that slotted vampires in place of gangsters, I wanted to do something different.

Like an idiot.


Here we are, eight years later, and the latest issue (July/August, 2023) of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has a review of Key/Egg in the “Books to Look For” section.

That’s Charles de Lint’s review column. What’s more, he finished his review with the phrase, “Highly recommended”. 

If you look at de Lint’s Wikipedia page, it correctly states that he “pioneered and popularized the genre of urban fantasy.” To have this bestselling author, winner of a World Fantasy Award and an Aurora—one of the authors who helped define the non-Mike-Hammer end of this genre—pick up one of my books and give it a glowing review eight years after it was first published, well….

Like I said, I didn’t expect this and I haven’t really wrapped my head around it yet, but having a pioneer in the genre like de Lint give the thumbs up to this book–which I truly believed in but which pretty much went nowhere–gives me complicated feelings. 

Some highlights from the review: 

“too entertaining not to give you a head’s up about its existence”

“full of lovely bits of strangeness”

“never a dull moment”

He does say that he didn’t care for the first chapter, which is fair. The book is, in part, a murder mystery, and I borrowed the mystery conventions of having, first of all, an unsympathetic murder victim and second of all, an opening chapter from the victim’s POV. Even so, I tried to keep things interesting, and I’m glad I didn’t make him toss the book in the recycling. 

Anyway, at this point, eight years after release day, I sell about five or six copies a month. Will there be a de Lint bump? I’ll write a post about it later when the numbers are in. 

Want to read the latest issue of F and SF for yourself? Their web presence doesn’t seem up to date, but the most recent issue can be read gratis, assuming you’re subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. 

Thank you for reading.