Review: Chicken Feet and Comfort Reading

No, no, I haven’t been cooking with chicken feet. Yes, I know it’s a thing. No, I really don’t plan to try it, although at least I know to take the chicken toenails off before serving.

chicken feetI’m talking about When Chicken Feet Cross the Highway by Alma Boykin. I’m always a sucker for Baba Yaga, having written the old crone into at least three of my own works by now. Heck, any Russian fairy tales and I’m there. Boykin brings a fresh, new approach to the old story, postulating that the old witch has been imported to America along with her daughter, and is in the real estate business when an Army sergeant home on leave discovers that his Babushka has gone missing. He knows it’s serious – the cat is almost dead. I won’t spoil the story, which isn’t very long, because you really should read it. Funny, clever, this is a well-done update of a very old story.

After the last book I read for review, I fell back on some comfort reads to cleanse my palate, as it were. Having made the happy discovery that a large number of Georgette Heyer novels are now available through Kindle Unlimited, those filled the bill. I started out with The Reluctant Widow, which I don’t remember having read before (note that I have read a lot of her work, over, oh, about 25 years. It’s entirely possible I’ve read and don’t remember it) and really enjoyed. Heyer at her best, pitching her characters into impossible situations that seem all too plausible, and the humour that arises from that.

The Reluctant’s peculiar premise is that a noble man, not desiring to inherit his cousin’s estate himself, shanghai’s a well-bred governess to marry the cousin and inherit all from him. There is also a falling-down house, loyal servants, witty banter, a dog who is at once irritating and adorable… really, what more could you want? I found myself giggling at several points in the tale. As the hero himself says early on, “It is certainly absurd.”

FoundlingThe other Heyer I’m reading is The Foundling, which I’m not liking quite as much, perhaps because I like my heroes just a touch more assertive than the very young and naive Gilly. Duke of Sales, he sets out to have an adventure, and he is beguiling, but more in watching him grow a bit, and pick up strays (like the titular Foundling) as he careers about the countryside. This is more of a family madcamp romp than it is a romance, by the way.

I have no idea what I’ll read next week. I’d been tearing through British mysteries (Allingham, Sayers, Christie, Todd…) but now that I’m writing I’ll slow down. I do have some non-fiction on the pile to dig into for a change of pace.