What the Hungarian?! SPFBO Edition - Olivia Atwater

What the Hungarian?! – Olivia Atwater

Üdv! Did you ever find yourself in a situation where you had no idea what was being said? Well, the brave people taking part in the What the Hungarian?! feature can experience exactly that. 5 quotes, 5 guesses, and 5 answers. How well would you do?

If you’d like to try this feature out, please contact us for further details!

In my previous years as an SPFBO judge, I always tried to offer spotlights to as many authors in our group and to the finalists as I could. I planned to do it for SPFBO 8 too, but life was busy kicking my arse as I slowly clambered out of years of burnout. The 5th anniversary shenanigans forced me to revisit some of my old features and update them, and thus enabling me to reach out to the finalists and ask them if they wanted to play. I offered them a choice between What the Hungarian?!, Tales from the Asylum, Stuck in the Pages, Party with the Stars, an interview, and a guest post.

Olivia Atwater, the author of Small Miracles, our chosen finalist and the winner of SPFBO 8, chose What the Hungarian?! and so, let’s see how she did with it!

Attention! A new, fancy hardcover edition will be available via a Kickstarter campaign opening on May 4th!

The Rules
  • You get the first passages in Hungarian (translated by me, but they should do) from 5 books you’ve read, and a couple of hints.
  • You have to guess which book they are from. And for extra fun, share your thought process with us!
  • You can also ask 3 questions regarding any of the passages (1 question/passage) which I’ll answer with yes, no or I don’t know – as I didn’t read each of the books.
  • You can’t use a dictionary or a translator.
  • And you just have to have fun!

Simple, isn’t it?

Meet the Author
Olivia Atwater

Olivia Atwater writes whimsical historical fantasy with a hint of satire. She lives in Montreal, Quebec with her fantastic, prose-inspiring husband and her two cats. When she told her second-grade history teacher that she wanted to work with history someday, she is fairly certain this isn’t what either party had in mind. She has been, at various times, a historical re-enactor, a professional witch at a metaphysical supply store, a web developer, and a vending machine repairperson.

Connect with Olivia Atwater
What the Hungarian?!


Gyémántok vagy tejszínes tea? _ kisasszony ezen a nehéz választáson töprengett az új nappalijában állva, kezében két meghívóval. Arra jutott (meglehetősen gyorsan), hogy az ő esetében a friss tejföl legyőzné a gyémántokat. A tejszín mindig élvezetes volt, míg a gyémántok egyszerűen csak megzavarnák a figyelmét olyasvalakinek mint ő.

Szóval tejszínes tea. _ összepréselte az ajkait. Ámde a meghívás _ bárőnőtől jött, ami megnehezítette a dolgokat.

Hints: Book 1 of a series, indie published, female author, sparkly blood

Olivia Atwater: Ahaha, I’m so ill-prepared for this. I can’t even fall back on my French. Sparkly blood? I don’t remember any sparkly blood. But maybe “tea” is really just “tea”? (That doesn’t narrow it down much, I read a lot of books with tea.)

Let me get more coffee, hang on.

Would this book be considered a cosy fantasy?

Timy: Yes

Guess: The Lady Jewel Diviner, by Rosalie Oaks

Timy: Hey, I never promised that hints will be very helpful 😛 And no, I’m afraid won’t be much help here… At least “tea” is really just “tea”. Also, you have no idea how hard it was to translate “cream tea” because we don’t really have a word (or words, more like) for it. And I’m pretty sure I fucked up that part of the translation, but JFC, that gave me a headache.

The correct answer: The Lady Jewel Diviner by Rosalie Oaks

The Original Quote

Diamonds or cream tea? Miss Elinor Avely contemplated this difficult choice in the abstract as she stood in her new sitting room, holding two invitations in her hands. She concluded (rather quickly) that, in her case, fresh clotted cream would theoretically trump diamonds. Cream was always enjoyable, whereas diamonds were simply distracting for one such as she.

Cream tea, then.

Elinor pursed her lips. However, in this instance the invitation was issued by the Countess of Beressfold, which made the matter more complicated.



„Próbálj nem megszégyeníteni minket” – mondja a bátyám. „Ha lehet.”

Az üres udvart kémlelem miközben próbálok nem tudomást venni Lord _ önelégült mosolyáról a balomon. Mindig is élvezte a bátyám szurkálódásait, különösen az utóbbi három évben. A többi nemes mozgolódik körülöttünk, bár nem tudom megmondani, hogy mulatnak vagy türelmetlenek. Anyám ráncolja a szemöldökét, tekintete a kapura szegezve. Talán a király látogatására készíti fel magát, vagy talán csak arra gondol, hogy kevés esélye van annak, hogy nem szégyenítem meg.

A közeledő paták zaja egyre hangosabbá válik. Úgy hangzik mintha vihar közeledne, egyenletes, tompa dübörgés ami heves esőzésre és szaggató szélre figyelmeztet. Szorosan összekulcsolom a kezeimet és azt kívánom bár vége lenne.

Hints: Book 1 of a series, trad published, female author, retelling

Olivia Atwater:  Out of everything in the paragraph above, I’m guessing “Probably not” at the beginning, and there’s a helpful “Lord” somewhere in there. Thankfully, I don’t have many retellings officially on my shelf (a crime, and one I’ll need to remedy), so I think I know which one this is!

Guess: Thorn by Intisar Khanani

Timy: Um… nope, you were off with “Probably not” but it was an interesting connection to make.

The correct answer: Thorn by Intisar Khanani

The Original Quote

„Try not to embarrass us,” my brother says. „If you can.”

I look out at the empty courtyard and pretend not to notice Lord Daerilin smirking to my left. He has always enjoyed my brother’s barbs, especially so these past three years. The other nobles around us shift, though I can’t tell if they’re amused or impatient. Mother frowns, gaze trained on the gates. Perhaps she’s preparing herself for the king’s visit, or perhaps she’s only thinking that there’s little hope I won’t embarrass her.

The thud of approaching hooves grows louder. It sounds like a storm drawing near, a steady, dull rumble that warns of heavy rains and lashing winds. I clasp my hands together tightly and wish this moment over.



Nem a te hibád volt. Anya kényszerített rá hogy ezt tedd, egyik keze a ruhád ujján, másik a hajadat fésülve, miközben folyamatosan a füledbe suttogta mennyire boldoggá tenné, ha megjelennél a vendégek előtt. Mi más választásod lett volna? Szóval igent mondtál, megigazítottad a masnit a hajadban és vártad, hogy a szája szegletében megjelenjen az a féloldalas mosoly.

A borostyánlevél formájú _ az asztal közepén hevert, Anya kedvence, a karcsú erek az ujjai helyzetéhez igazítva. Mindig gondosan ápolta a kezeit, tudta, hogy milyen gyakran irányul rájuk a figyelem.

Hints: Book 1 of a series, indie published, female author, occult

Olivia Atwater: Oh boy, um. I see the word “mindig” again—that’s been in a lot of these, and now I’m wondering what it translates to. I feel like I ought to mention I’ve actually taken linguistics classes, and they’ve all totally fled my mind in the moment, so I’m just sitting here going “hm, yes, very interesting, I have no idea what this means”.

I need to stop searching for familiar-looking words. That works with French and English, but I don’t think Hungarian is a Romance language, so I’m only going to stumble on the occasional modern word which has been ported over. That said, I think it’s a good bet to assume that “mi” is a first-person pronoun. That would make this a first-person perspective book.

Is this a first-person perspective book?

Timy: Yes

Olivia Atwater: Okay, now I’m torn between The Thirteenth Hour or Blood Bounty. There’s a certain style to this, with longer sentences and lots of clauses or series items, judging from the commas. I think Blood Bounty tends towards shorter, more pointed sentences because of the main character’s personality, though I’m sure there are brief sections in the book with longer sentences like this. I’m going to lean towards Trudie Skies, but only slightly.

Guess: The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies

Timy: “mindig” means always 🙂 We took over some English words in modern times, but otherwise, it’s probably not much of a help for you. Mi is our pronoun for we, so… nope, not first person. Also, this one was a bit tricky, because these paragraphs are from the prologue which is written in second person, but the rest of the book is written in first person.

The correct answer: The Half Killed by Quenby Olson

The Original Quote

It wasn’t your fault. Mama forced you to do it, one hand on your sleeve, the other combing through your curls, and all while she whispered in your ear, saying it would be all right, that it would please her so much if you would just show yourself in front of the guests. And with such enticement, what choice did you have? So you said yes, and adjusted the bow in your hair, and waited for the uneven smile to tease the corners of her mouth.

The planchette sat in the middle of the table, Mama’s favourite one, carved to resemble an ivy leaf, the slender veins aligned to placement of her fingers. She took such good care of her hands, always aware of how often they would be on display.



_ már öt éve vágyott rá, hogy Öntő lehessen.

Ám míg a _ Varázslatra Hajlamosak Iskolájának legtöbb végzőse szabadon választhatott melyik anyag mestereivé válnak, _-nak kijelölték. „Nincs elég Hajtogatónk” – magyarázta Varázsló _ az irodjában.

Kevesebb, mint egy hét telt el mióta ez elhangzott, de _ még mindig érezte, hogy könnyek szúrják a szemeit.

„A papír csodálatos anyag” – folytatta V. _ „ami sokat veszített az értékéből az utóbbi években. Csupán tizenkét aktív varázsló maradt abban a tudományágban, így nincs más választásunk, mint néhány gyakornokot átirányítani. Sajnálom.”

Hints: Book 1 of a series, trad published, female author, crisp magic

Olivia Atwater: More “mindig”. That word will haunt me! But I’m pretty sure I know what this one is, and the “papír” has me thinking I’m right. I know I said I’m not going to search for familiar words anymore, but I’m almost positive that “paper” looks very similar across several languages.

I’m just going to go for it. Witness me!

Guess: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Timy: Hahaha! You are right with “papír” 🙂 Damn, that school name was a bitch to translate… Also side note, I bought this book (and the whole series later because it was on sale), because I was intrigued. That’s the downside of doing What the Hungarian?!, lol.

The correct answer: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Original Quote

For the past five years, Ceony had wanted be a Smelter.

However, while most graduates of the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined got to choose what material they dedicated their craft to, Ceony had been assigned. „Not enough Folders,” Magician Aviosky had explained in her office.

Less than a week had passed since Ceony had heard this, and she still felt the tears that had stung the back of her eyes.

„Paper is a wonderful medium,” Mg. Aviosky had continued, „and one that’s lost credit in recent years. With only twelve acting magicians left in that discipline, we have no choice but to direct a portion of our apprentices that way. I’m sorry.”



A forgatások között _ megpróbált nem tudomást venni a nyilvánvalóról: cseszettül hülye módja volt ez a halálnak.

Mégis, a rendező szavára mélyről jövő üvöltéssel vágtatott újra a kaotikus csatatéren, át a füstgépek ontotta fojtogató felhőn, az adrenalin fémes ízével a nyelvén. Ordító kaszkadőrök lóháton száguldottak el mellette, míg ő combjain érezte lovának ritmikus zökkenéseit. Sár – vagy sár és lószar gusztustalan egyvelege a szagból ítélve – fröccsent az arcába. A speciális felszerelés előtte haladt, megörökítve elszántságát és kétségbeesését SUV karjára szerelt kamerával.

Hints: Book 1 of a series, trad published, female author, fame

Olivia Atwater: I. What. SUV?! I have modern books on my shelf? I—

OH! See, that makes it easy in some respects. I only have so many modern authors I enjoy. I’m partial to geeky modern romances, though, so this fits into a very tiny niche. I’m almost positive this is an Olivia Dade romance. The only problem is, I’ve read a lot of her books, haha, so this could be one of a few.

I can’t even ask if this book involves fanfiction, because I’m pretty sure all of them do. Hm.

I’m just going to guess my favourite one. 

Guess: All the Feels, by Olivia Dade

Timy: Well, you definitely got the author right! That SUV sentence was also a bitch to translate ? Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing this to myself, but then I remember how much fun it is to witness everyone else struggling with Hungarian, and that makes it worth ?

The correct answer: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

The Original Quote

Between takes, Marcus did his best not to acknowledge the obvious: this was a stupid-ass way to die. Still, at the director’s call of action, he let out a guttural howl and rode amid the chaos of warfare once more, adrenaline metallic on his tongue as he galloped through chocking smoke-machine clouds. Bellowing stunt performers on horseback whizzed past while his own horse jolted rhythmically between his thighs. Mud – or some foul combination of mud and horseshit, from the smell of it – splattered against his cheek. The special rig raced ahead of him, the camera on the SUV’s rushing arm capturing all his determination and desperation.

Results: 3.5/5

I decided to give 0.5 points for guessing the author right, and that’s how that result came to be. Well done, Olivia!

Grab a copy of the SPFBO 8 winner Small Miracles or get a fancy hardcover via Olivia Atwater‘s Kickstarter campaign!

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Check out how others did with this feature on the What the Hungarian?! page!

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