REVIEW: A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

REVIEW: A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia SamatarA Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar
Published by Small Beer Press (2013), eBook, 299pg
Filed under: Fantasy, Fiction
Got my copy from: Bought
Buy your own copy at Amazon or add it to your Goodreads shelf.


Jevick, the pepper merchant's son, has been raised on stories of Olondria, a distant land where books are as common as they are rare in his home. When his father dies and Jevick takes his place on the yearly selling trip to Olondria, Jevick's life is as close to perfect as he can imagine. But just as he revels in Olondria's Rabelaisian Feast of Birds, he is pulled drastically off course and becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate young girl.

In desperation, Jevick seeks the aid of Olondrian priests and quickly becomes a pawn in the struggle between the empire's two most powerful cults. Yet even as the country shimmers on the cusp of war, he must face his ghost and learn her story before he has any chance of becoming free by setting her free: an ordeal that challenges his understanding of art and life, home and exile, and the limits of that seductive necromancy, reading.

How did I decide to buy this book? I must have seen a review of it somewhere and added it to my wishlist.1 It’s exactly along the lines of what I like best in a fantasy book: non-European style countries, travel, adventure, and intrigue, with spooky magical things. The only thing that would’ve made it better is if there’d been dragons somewhere and if the protagonist were a woman. And then…

14 things I love about working at a library


  1. I can finally organize misplaced books and not feel like a weirdo interloper.
  2. My knowledge of many books in multiple genres comes in super handy now.
  3. Talking to people about book news is way more fun IRL.
  4. Doing the librarian shush and having people obey.
  5. Looking at book catalogs.
  6. Putting the golf pencils next to the catalog computers knowing they’re impossible to write with. (I’m a little evil, I suppose.)
  7. The more books you read per year, the cooler you are.
  8. Going into the children’s section and digging out the books hidden behind other books. They also hide books in the large print section???
  9. When people pay their late fees without complaining.
  10. I never have to worry about not having a book to read during my lunch break.
  11. Getting an inter-library loan from far-away places. (The furthest I’ve seen is Alaska, so far.)
  12. Making themed displays.
  13. That one time in October when the storytime babies came in costumes!!!!
  14. Recommending a book to a patron and they come back the next week raving about how good it was.

Currently Reading: Range of Ghosts


I stumbled across Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear at my library when somebody returned it; we don’t have a huge fantasy collection, and most of what we do have is in the young adult section, so I was excited to find it. I’ve been wanting to read another EB book since reading Dust back in 2011. 

Range of Ghosts is the first of a historical fantasy trilogy set in ancient China/Mongolia, starring a soldier and a wizard. The parts with the wizard are my favorite; she’s an widowed ex-princess just coming into her power as a person and a magic-user, and she’s gotta deal with her family and political things and also learning magic. It’s great! The soldier is on his own journey, trying to rescue his girlfriend who was kidnapped by ghosts (for real). No doubt their stories will intertwine soon and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what happens.

Scribd has a lot of great books available, including The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of Original Sin by Colette Moody, a historical romance with female pirates! I am barely into the beginning– I don’t think I’m even out of the prologue yet– but I love historical fiction and seafaring adventures and also pirates, so I’m really looking forward to continue onward in the story.

Scribd has added audiobooks! Woohoo! I think I’m going to try We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It’s short, at only something like 5 hours, plus everyone seems to love it and I wanna get in on that.

What are you reading this week?