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The Invisible City; or, Dick Mayhew and his Marvellous Cat (Neverwhere) - I've largely forgotten Neverwhere, which has never been one of my favorite Gaimans, but I love this story. Something is happening to London Below, and the Marquis de Carabas is dragging Richard around to investigate. I love how vivid London is, past and present, Above and Below, and I absolutely adore the ending, which made me scroll right back to the top to reread.
A couple of well-meaning fellow-drinkers had assured Richard very seriously that he had to be sworn in as Freeman of Highgate before he could buy a drink. He was halfway through explaining, with some embarrassment, that he had been the Greatest Hunter In London Below for some years now and he wasn't likely to fall for that one (again) when the Marquis arrived.

The Greatest May Appear the Least (Mushishi) - I think this is my favorite of the Mushishi stories this year. I particularly love that it's about Ginko and the scientific method; if it hadn't been [livejournal.com profile] telophase's gift, I would have suspected her of writing it because of the focus on observation and deduction.
Instead, he sat quietly and idly observed his surroundings.

Interesting: lush vegetation that should, by rights, be stunted and sparse.

Notable: a moon providing as much light as one might find on a stormy day.

Compellingly conclusive: the suggestion of a glow from the greenery reaching upward from the narrow valley.

The Ivory Horn (His Dark Materials) - I can't find a good quote for this one, but this is one of my favorite stories from Yuletide 2007. Will is looking for another way to travel between worlds, and nothing will stop him. I love how creepy this grows, how it doesn't back away from consequences, and oh my god, the concept and execution is simply brilliant. If you had told me about it beforehand, I would have scoffed and said it wouldn't work, but it does, and perfectly so.

The Pen and the Sword (the Anne books) - This is another of my favorites. I have a giant, giant soft spot for Rilla of Ingleside, which is my favorite of the Anne books because of Rilla, in all her practicality and romance and how she must grow up. Rilla and the rest of the Rainbow Valley gang are grown up here, and it's now 1939. I love love love how the voice of this sounds just like the books, I love how the characters are older and wiser and how much it hurts to see them going through another war, and I absolutely adore how brave they all are, even though now the glory of it is gone.
I keep as busy as I can; the old Red Cross has started up again, as if it had never been gone, and I find I can knit a sock as handily as ever I could, but the spice of it has gone; if we must have it all again then we must, but the girl who dreamt of heroes and admired a well-turned-out young man in khaki is gone forever, replaced by a woman who knows only grim necessity and endurance.

Fairy Tale of L.A. (Life) - Short and sweet and pitch-perfect Reese and Crews. I love the last line, which is just so Dani.
"What?" Dani says, still not used to the way Crews starts conversations, like he's tossing a grenade at you and expecting you to play catch.

The Crush of Cthulu (HP Lovecraft) - I don't actually know the Lovecraft canon, but this would have made me snort coffee up my nose, had I been so ill-advised to drink coffee while reading. I think the excerpt speaks for itself.
"The tale I am about to relate is a horrible one. It has dark pacts made with hideous creatures, things too twisted for the human mind to comprehend, and horrors beyond the stars who willfully violate the laws of Euclidean geometry."

The man bent his head down sorrowfully and I could feel the fear still emanating from him. He stood there, for what seemed to be aeons, and I could sense he was trying to build up his strength to tell me something, something that would forever scar my sanity, leaving my mind a pale shadow of what used to be.

He finally raised his head, and in a most doleful and anguished tone, he whispered three terrifying words that indeed, would later send me into a cataleptic state and a prolonged stay in Arkham's most prominent asylum. These words, I remember even now, as he uttered them and then stared at me with agony in his eyes.

"It has sex."

i live my life in growing orbits (Haibane Renmei) - Haibane fic! And it's small and delicate and quiet, just like the series, about recovery and growth and living. It makes me think of spring green tendrils of vine gently unfurling in the sunshine, of bean shoots in newly-turned earth.
What one notices is the coming of spring, not winter's passing. Small things, first: the gentleness of the air on a sunny morning, or the stirring of new leaves, or how the earth, no longer frost-hardened, yields just enough for one's shoes to make their mark.

A Heaven of Blackbirds (Fionavar) - I've always wanted Jaelle's story, and this one delivers. I particularly love that it has both Jaelle the High Priestess and Jaelle the woman, and though it's about the woman in the end, it never shortchanges how important priesthood is and was to Jaelle, how much Dana is woven through her life.
Oh Dana, she cried in the silence of her heart, grieving as she never had before. Why not me?

a solitary blue (Fionavar) - I'm not sure if people who aren't rabid Sharra/Diarmuid shippers would love this as much as me, but Sharra is my favorite character from the books, and I love how this captures her grief and the slow healing, how she is trying to find her wings again.
Her father does not ask her to return to Cathal when he departs in the spring, for which she is grateful: she would rather stay here in Paras Derval, where the memories of gardens are not as sharp.

Tell It Slant (Fray) - Love! I love who is telling the tale, I love the rhythms of the prose, I love how it's about stories and legends and how it connects Mel with Buffy and Faith. It reminds me of that last panel in Tales of the Slayers, of Mel sitting on the table and reading an old book, the ghosts of all the slayers past gathered behind her in solidarity and sisterhood.
After two hundred years, the Slayer's back. She's a silhouette in the city, a shadow in the streets. She's death in the alleys when the moon is dark, hope in the ruins when the rain is cold. She carries a red crescent; it's her best friend and your worst nightmare.

She's the one girl in all the world, that old, forgotten chant.

Tell the story, even if you must tell it slant.