Book Review: THE FIFTH SEASON by N. K. Jemisin

Amazon | Goodreads

Notes on Diversity:
The real power of diverse literature is that it speaks truth. Essun is a Black woman–a dreadlocked middle-aged woman protagonist. She is a rarity, and she is deeply, fully realized. The world of The Fifth Season is, like our own world, full to the brim with people of color. They outnumber white people. Race in the Stillness still matters, but it is conceptualized and socially constructed along different factors. The way Jemisin breaks this down in the text is remarkable and masterful.

There is also queer representation. Alabaster is clearly gay; Innon is a rare comfortable and loving bisexual man. I had…issues with this, not because of their portrayal, but because of their positioning within the plot. It’s hard to talk about this without giving anything away, spoiler-wise, so I’m sticking things in a footnote. But those who wish to avoid common queer tropes may be chafed.1

And then there are the trans folks.

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Y’all, there is an important secondary character in this book who is a trans woman. She’s just there, and she’s trans. Just hanging out, living her life as a trans woman. And! And! There’s a passing mention of a trans boy, too. It’s just a blip, but it was there. The Stillness had trans people in it. Also, like sentient rock people or whatever, but do you have any idea how rare it is to read a book that just has nonchalant trans people in it being trans? A hell of a lot rarer than books about sentient rock people, that’s for damn sure. I nearly fucking cried. I am not kidding.


Review:
I loved this book. It was immensely hard for me to read, and I still loved it.2
I read The Fifth Season hungrily, because it is a damn good book, cleverly structured and wonderfully written, always leaving you on the edge of your seat and wanting more.

The Stillness is a land that is never still. Stills are people who hate orogenes, people who can bring order to the land. The world has a habit of ending. There are entire histories of apocalypses. This is the story of the most recent one, the most terrible one yet.

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this, pretty much

And to understand how it happened, you have to understand how many injustices–small and large, premeditated and coincidental–came together to shape two very particular people in very particular ways.

It’s Jemisin’s choice to root this apocalypse in a handful of lives, and in a handful of choices, that makes the book work. She shows how those choices fracture a life, how the course of lives can and must sometimes change on a whim. How sometimes those forces are within our control, but how often they are not, and how terrifying it is that they are not. The actions that set the story in motion come as a cumulative response to this: a response to a lifetime of being corralled and cajoled and confined.

There is an immense amount of depth in this book. I am white, and I have rarely been as aware of my whiteness as I was reading this book. There is a reason that Essun and Alabaster are Black. Jemisin is articulating something here (I am guessing) about what it is to be Black–the entire sequence while they are in Allia, while they have to navigate avenues of politeness that they are expected to perform but can’t expect to receive in kind, that is what it is to be Black in America, at least in part. She has captured here that kind of very particular containment that I am aware of but I will never experience, and she has written it into the minds of people who can literally tear the world apart with a fury-filled thought.

But they are not just their fury. Of course they aren’t; they are people, and they want and they desire, and they get tired and they break and they have hidden strengths. Jemisin knows these characters inside and out. Alabaster and Essun, especially, are deeply known and well-written. The book is both a quest and a tragedy, but the tragedy is at its heart the fact that people have limits, that they run out of will, that they can’t keep going. Or that some can, and others can’t by some weird fluke of fate.

The Fifth Season brutalized me and left me breathless. When it ended, I immediately preordered its sequel, The Obelisk Gate. I cannot wait to see what happens next.

5 stars
1HERE BE SPOILERS TURN BACK WHILE YE STILL CAN! Again, both Alabaster and Innon were beautifully written characters. But. They were also the two canonically queer characters. And Innon dies, brutally, which I can’t help but read as a Bury Your Gays thing. Then, Alabaster ends up being a Tragic Gay Villain, basically. Yes, it makes sense why he does the things he does. Yes, it makes narrative sense why Innon as to die. But…as a queer person it still felt like a sucker punch that *my* characters were being used this way. They were the disposable ones, the weak ones that turned bad, etc etc, like always, again. For all the wonder and glory of the book, even with the wonder and the glory that is Tonkee herself alone, this left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m rating this 5 stars, but these issues make it a 4.5 star book for me. It gives me pause.

2IT STARTS WITH A DEAD CHILD. Oh, my heart.

ARIAH named 2016 Bi Book of the Year: Speculative Fiction!

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all my dreams came true i am an award winning author and only skeletor can capture my emotions in gif form

How amazing is this news??

You know, whenever people ask me what motivates me to keep writing, I tell them it’s curiosity, not external validation. But, hey, the occasional bit of external validation is certainly welcome!

When I wrote Ariah, I couldn’t imagine that it would get published, much less win an award! So, many thanks to the Bi Writers Association for this. It means a great deal to me.

Thanks also to my partners, Jon and Sam, and my ex, Hunter, who slogged through many iterations of Ariah. Without them pushing me, this book never would have seen the light of day. I’d also like to thank my editors, Sarah Bangs and Carrie Hemler, for the sharp insights that made this book as good as it could possibly be.

AND MANY, MANY CONGRATULATIONS TO THE OTHER WINNERS AND NOMINEES! Seriously, what an amazing, talented bunch.

ANCIENT, ANCIENT by Kiini Ibura Salaam

Amazon | Goodreads

Notes on Diversity:
This is another case where diversity is not really the right word to use here.1. This is a book of stories where, with one or two exceptions, the focus is on Black womanhood. Sometimes those Black women are in space. Sometimes they coexist alongside gods. Sometimes they live in New York and are beset by nostalgia for Louisiana. Sometimes they are aliens who communicate through dance. But unifying the collection of stories is a deep exploration of Black womanhood. It is a book written within a lived experience for others of that lived experience. It reminds me, in that sense, of Constance Burris’ Black Beauty.2

All philosophizing aside, this book is full of characters of color. And women. And it has some queer representation.


Review:
Salaam is a lovely, poetic writer. From her language choice to the actual structure of the stories themselves, most of the stories in this collection are lyrical and haunting.

One of the clearest themes throughout all the stories is sex, which in virtually all cases3 is a powerfully positive and healing force in women’s lives. In stories like “Desire” and the trio of stories featuring the unnamed alien race represented by WaLiLa and MalKai who feast on human nectar (that is drawn out by way of sex), sex and sexuality is arguably coerced–but still, the power of it and the emotional connection it brings proves healing. Or at the very least complicated. The women in the stories remain agentic throughout even when used as vessels.

But I was more drawn to some of the other themes woven through the stories.4 Movement-as-freedom and movement-as-communication comes up again and again. Most clearly in the WaLiLa and MalKai stories, where WaLiLa and MalKai must learn to forsake their original language of movement/dance for spoken human languages, and again in “Battle Royale.” In “Battle Royale”, the narrator’s insistence on engaging in the flashing game/dance of razors leads to the fever-dream punishment meted out by his grandfather. But movement, or the lack of it, and how it can bring a different kind of freedom comes up in “Debris”, too.

There is an openness in Salaam’s resolutions that I enjoyed. Many of the stories were about a change of direction, a decision point, and were other writers would tell you where the characters were going, Salaam refuses to reveal what happens next. The conflict was that there was a decision to make, she seems to suggest. The trick of her stories is that there emotional gratification in knowing that a decision was made, but we don’t know which path was taken.

Salaam’s stories are fascinating. In particular, I liked “Debris”, “Ferret”, and “Ancient, Ancient”. “Rosamojo” was hard for me to read–I found it triggering–but it is a very good story.

4 stars

1I need to write this post already about My Issues With The Word Diversity.
2Although, if you’re into short speculative fiction featuring Black characters you should really check out Black Beauty, too.
3The exception to this is “Rosamojo”. It is a very good story, but if you are triggered by sexual assault, especially as a survivor of childhood trauma, tread with caution.
4I’m ace, man, I’m not getting the same sex-as-rapture thing these characters are getting.

Book Review: FIRE LOGIC by Laurie J. Marks

Amazon | Goodreads

Notes on Diversity:
Hey, are you looking for a diverse book? MAYBE YOU SHOULD READ THIS ONE.

Seriously. Zanja, one of the POV characters, is a lesbian woman of color who also experiences an extended period of disability.1 Karis is half-giant and a smoke addict. Her addiction greatly impacts her functioning day in and day out. Emil is a soldier, and continues to be a soldier well into middle-age despite a consistent difficult knee injury. The lot of them are poor; living hand-to-mouth. Emil is classically educated, but many of them are not. And, so many of the characters are queer–and various flavors of queer.2

This book is an everything burrito of thoughtful inclusivity.

 


Review:
When the leader of Shaftal dies without naming a successor, the country falls apart. The Sainnites take advantage of the power vacuum and slaughter the bulk of Shaftal’s remaining leaders, throwing the country into chaos and war overnight. Zanja, a trader in training from the northern mountains, witnesses this and witnesses in the intervening fifteen years the havoc the war wreaks across the land of Shaftal. But she can do little about it until the war comes knocking at her tribe’s door. It isn’t until then, that her own tribe is threatened by the Sainnites, that the story really starts. Because then Zanja’s fate becomes tied to Shaftal’s.

This is a long and complex book. Zanja is not the only narrator–that paragraph is my paltry attempt to summarize the book without giving anything away, but it doesn’t get into the depth of the book. Karis, the half-giant addict is also a narrator. So is Emil, the old paladin commander Zanja winds up befriending. And Medric, a young seer who holds the fate of both the Sainnites and the Shaftalese in his hands. It is a fantasy epic, but instead of kings and castles, it is an epic about farmsteads and ironworkers.

Get ready for an epic ambush.

This is a wonderful, thoughtful book populated by wonderful, thoughtful characters. It could have been tighter, but that’s ok with me. I don’t mind a shaggy book. Your mileage may vary. The thing that most irked me about Fire Logic–and this is a fairly minor point, though it is enough that i am willing to knock it down a star–is an uneveness in the worldbuilding. There was such a fine and deep eye towards some elements, things like the historical use of specific words like porringer and dray horse that lent the book an authenticity I loved. The elements of guerilla warfare were intricately drawn with almost too much detail. And yet I still have little sense of the magical mechanics of the world. It’s stated that elementals are rare, but yet most of the characters I came to know over the course of the book are elementals. And if they are so rare, how are they handled? Would Karis really be left to be a blacksmith? Would Emil really simply be a paladin commander? Perhaps, this makes sense given the current state of disarray in Shaftal, but is there no specific training or guidance for people with these gifts? There was, at least, for Zanja among the Ashawala’i. It was because she was a fire elemental that she was first introduced to Shaftal as a trader, after all. Why are the elementals of Shaftal untrained? Or are they? It was a huge open question for me throughout the whole of the book given how prominent and important elemental magic turned out to be for the plot, and without some of these questions answered, the fire logic that drove the plot felt like contrivance more than once.

I also wanted to know more about the peculiarities of the elemental magic and how they impacted, specifically, the way these gifted people are perceived and embark into relationships with others. Yes, I understand that fire logic makes Zanja and Emil and Medric all very intuitive and prescient. All three of them seemed to be prone to fall in love awfully fast and awfully hard. Is this bad writing? Or is it a trick of the magic? I want to give Marks the benefit of the doubt here, but without some explanation, there is room to lean towards it seeming just like pat instalove. But then again, it could be that fire logic–that weird prescience, a kind of imprinting. I wanted more insight into how that works, if that was the case. How would Zanja or Emil’s prescience work when turned towards a person instead of grand events? Could it be turned towards a person? Is that healthy?

Beyond all of that, it is Marks’ handling of the way the big political shifts of Shaftal impact the formation of this found family that made the book really sing for me. Zanja and Emil and Karis and Norina and Medric and J’Han are all broken, wounded people. They love each other, and they need each other, and they are better and stronger together–and that is, ultimately, what family is. Marks allows for a great deal of space and breathing room for these relationships to develop organically, for this little family to form on its own against all odds. And when it does, it is so emotionally gratifying.

This is what emotional gratification looks like.

Marks has a way of cutting to the heart of the desperate human need for connection, and it’s this that propels the book forward:

Annis talked to Zanja about her experiments with gunpowder and other unstable compounds. It seemed incredible that she had not injured herself when she clearly deserved to be blown to bits. In this community of huge, fantastically intermarried families, Zanja’s loneliness was becoming intolerable. She experimented with touching Annis’s arm, wondering if she herself would be blown to bits.

The characters’ decisions are hinged on their relationships to each other. I was gripped by how they interacted, what they drew from each other, how they pushed and pulled each other. All of the characters, from Zanja down to the antagonists–the xenophobic Willis and the arrogant Mabin–are drawn with depth and clarity and motivation. Each is a joy to read. Norina hit me too close for comfort. Karis is a study in paradoxes. Zanja is the heart that holds the book together.

A book could not ask for a better heart than Zanja. I have rarely seen as fully realized a character as her, or as agentic a character as her. Or one with as much respect for those around her. I love what she tells someone at the end of the book:

Scholars like Emil and Medric will study the obscure history of your life a hundred years from now and never quite make sense of it. So what, so long as it makes sense to you?

4 stars
1Zanja’s physical disabilities are magically healed, but the experience leaves her profoundly shaken. Her life changes absolutely because of her experience of having had a disability. Fire Logic does not fall into the trap of either pretending that being magically cured wipes away forever the experience of ever having been disabled in the first place or that other people with disabilities exist in the world. Other characters with disabilities do continue to exist throughout the book, some of whom are healed, and some of whom are not.

2In the case of one character in particular, Marks does a wonderful job depicting a fluid change in sexuality that is at once honest and heartrending and deeply emotionally gratifying.

I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo!

Ok, so do you remember this very exciting news? About how in 2017 I’ll have another set of Aerdhverse books coming out with the Zharmae Publishing Press? Let me refresh your memory:

About A Tale of Rebellion
The humans of Elothnin went west, hungry for wheat and space, but the elves were already there. When the humans burned the elves’ homes, the elves rebelled. For forty long years the rebellion smoldered, but the elves have been beaten back into the gnarled forest, forced to rely on guerrilla tactics and strange bedfellows.

Rethnali has only ever known the rebellion. Born and bred to it, raised by a great elvish general and now a captain herself, Rethnali’s whole life is ruthlessness and strategy. Over the course of four books, Rethnali’s will is tested. Some friendships fray and tatter; surprising new ones blossom. She puts herself and her soldiers in danger over and over again, all in the name of winning back the lands stolen from her people. Sacrifice–what will she sacrifice to see this rebellion through to its end? And who will she be once all those sacrifices have been made?

Exciting, right? So, Book 1 (titled Extraction) is already in edits. I’ve got first drafts of the second and third books done. The final book is outlined. I’m using Camp NaNo reread and revised the second book in the series (The Incoming Tide). It sorely needs it. Here’s some of the things I’m planning to work on this month:

  • Pronouns. Several characters have shifted genders over the course of the edits, and this draft has to be brought up to speed. I have to hunt and peck and correct the pronouns, which is a kind of penance for getting their genders wrong in the first place.
  • Pacing. In the current draft, time jumps in weird twitchy ways. Action is glossed over where it should be played out. I’m noting all these weird hitches for the revision stage.
  • Consistency: Tracking all the character names, the place names, the names of the pirate ships. I have a running tally of all the votes taken and the shifting alliances.
  • Changes: At least one character I knew had to die is going to live after all. So that changes things. I’m wondering if someone else is going to surprise!die. Gotta keep track of all these notes in the margins.

Wish me luck!

Book Review: THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi

 TheStarTouchedQueen

Amazon | Goodreads

Notes on Diversity:
Like The Wrath and the Dawn, this is a book about a woman of color by a woman of color. The cast is all people of color–specifically Indian people. The fantastic creatures that appear come from Indian folklore and mythology.

Also, like The Wrath and the Dawn, the diversity stops there. No queer characters appear in the book. There is no discussion of disability. Class does not come to the fore.1 Readers longing for an exploration of these themes may want to look elsewhere.


Review:
Mayavati was born with bad luck. Her horoscope states that her marriage will join her to death, devastation and destruction. In the land of her birth, Bharata, a bad horoscope taints a person.

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fuck yer star charts

Maya is shunned by the wives and daughters of the harem, left to her own devices, until fate moves her to a place where her death can be used as a political tool. But she does not die. She finds herself married to a mysterious king of a mysterious land–Akaran, where creatures of myth and legend roam. Amar, her new husband, tells her she has powers she never dreamed of, and that he can teach her, but only if she doesn’t ask too many questions, and only if she doesn’t explore the new palace. But, of course Maya’s curiosity gets the better of her.

First, I have to say that Chokshi’s writing is gorgeous. I’ve read her short stories, so I knew that going in. She has a wonderful way with unexpected visual metaphors that surprise and delight me:

This was the court of Bharata, a city like a bone spur — tacked on like an afterthought.

Or:

A sound spidered through the floor.

The book is beautifully written, a real pleasure to read. Chokshi is the kind of stylist I am jealous of as a fellow writer as I know my own writing is much more prosaic than hers. Hers sings; it’s lyrical. You can get lost in the words.

The structure of the book, too, is so clever once you know the story. Of course Maya told all of those stories to Gauri!2 Of course the details she made up proved to be true when she makes it to the Night Market! I REALLY WANT TO TELL YOU THINGS RIGHT NOW THAT ARE SPOILERS but I will not, so please read the book so we can discuss, ok?

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The narrative is lovely, too. I really rooted for Maya. As a character she is ambitious and she is suspicious. She sneaks into the rafters of her father’s diplomatic councils and learns about warcraft and politics. She yearns for power. She knows she is smart, and she wants to use her sharp and cutting mind for something for anything. It was not surprising to me that when presented with the opportunity her new husband, Amar, represents that she would take it. She may be attracted to him at the outset, and grateful for his rescue, but she does not immediately fall in love with him. I loved this tension within her, the suspicion of him (she openly says she does not trust him to him) and this desire for power.

Maya is such a strong character. She has such agency throughout. Chokshi draws her as a complete human being, and allows her to both rise to full glorious potential and to give in to her weaknesses. She falters. She learns from her mistakes. One of her mistakes is very dire, indeed, and she does what she needs to, sacrifices what she has to, to make things right. Maya is a better, more mature version of herself by the end of the book. Not a different person–still herself, still recognizably herself, but grown up. The character work in The Star-Touched Queen when it comes to Maya is truly excellent. The characterization of some of the minor characters–Kamala and Gauri, especially–was also very strong.

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WELL-WRITTEN GIRLS 4EVA

I wish the characterization of the other two main leads, Amar and Nritti, were as strong. Amar remains throughout a besotted cypher. We know he loves her, and that he has secrets, and that’s about it in terms of his character development. Honestly, in terms of plot, he doesn’t have much else to do, but there could have been a great deal more shading here to differentiate him from the other Brooding But Secretly Very Loving Love Interests I’ve read.

Nritti is a much more interesting case. She is the book’s main antagonist, and her role in the plot and in Maya’s life3 is a complicated one. They were friends, until they weren’t, and Maya only half-remembers a shadow of a feeling of trust in Nritti. Until Nritti’s backstory is revealed, it’s key that her characterization is very strong–that the reader feel that she is trustworthy, that we have a strong connection to her, too, stronger to her, perhaps, than to Amar because her role in the story is not so well telegraphed by narrative convention as Amar’s is. But she winds up ambiguous. And then she winds up duplicitous. And as a character, for me, she wound up a hollow, strange mess of wasted potential.

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so they were….frenemies, basically?

Nritti, also, was highlights worrisome issue in that there was an underlying element of femme…suspicion? in the book. It seemed as if the more feminine a female character was, the less Maya could trust that character (from childhood, an example would be the harem wives who exclude her). Gauri, her sister, grows into a soldier. Kamala, a female-identified flesh-eating horse demon that appears in the last third or so of the book ends up being a much more interpretable, sympathetic, and interesting character than Nritti. Kamala has more shading and depth. So it isn’t that Chokshi didn’t know how to write her non-human characters, or characters that are at first glance repugnant. It’s that Nritti never quite formed. I think this is an Unfortunate Unintended Consequence, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen in the text.

Still, I would recommend this book. The weaknesses with Amar and Nritti are, to me, quite well balanced by the strength of Maya herself, and by the beauty of the writing. I very much enjoyed this book, and I am excited to see what Chokshi does with the next book.

4 stars
1Arguably there is a glancing blow at class made in the book when Maya returns to Bharata as a sahdvi. I don’t count this, personally, as a discussion of class since she experiences her role as a sahdvi as a costume/disguise. She never claims the status fully. Like Shahrzad in The Wrath and the Dawn, this is a book about a princess. Maya is a princess who was abused emotionally and psychologically, yes, but she was first a princess and then a queen, and her social position and worldview is different throughout the book than a peasant or a pauper.

2GAURI!!!! I am very excited that the companion novel, A Crown of Wishes is all about her.

3Technically, in Maya’s lives since Nritti knew Maya in a previous incarnation, too.


#OwnYourOwn: Be Alive, And Be Trans

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Read more about #OwnYourOwn here, or read through the hashtag on twitter

It’s hard to be alive sometimes. It’s not easy to be a person. That’s true, I think, across the board. It becomes more horrifically true when you layer on oppression.

It becomes more true when you spend your formative years consuming narrative after narrative telling you that you are most definitely going to have to die at the end of the story. Maybe because your very nature is duplicitous. Maybe so that some cis person can learn about injustice and rail against it. Who the fuck knows.

When I was growing up, all I knew about myself is that I didn’t seem like the other kids. I felt sporadically uncomfortable in my skin, like I wanted to step out of my body and into a new one I’d edited and reformed for myself. Other days were just fine. The dominant trans narrative–I knew I was like this since I was four years old, I have always been a boy trapped in a girl’s body*–that was so different than this nebulous shifting experience of my own physical/emotional give and take that it took decades for me to begin to think of myself that way.

There weren’t stories for me.

There weren’t reflections of people like me in the books I read, in the shows I watched.

And I was poorer for it.

In my own writing, I stick nonbinary and genderqueer people in all the time. I put them in there to show other people that we exist, and that we have entire lives. Families. Hobbies. Minutia. That we survive and thrive.

I put people like me in so that there is a reflection of me out there in the world, just in case there is some kid like me yearning for a mirror that they don’t even know they need yet.

Whatever story is burning in you to get told? Tell it. Whatever story you’ve always wanted to read but have never found? That is the one only you can write because you are the one who has lived it. No one can write it better than you.

Show the world what it’s like to live anyway. Shatter all those stories where you’re supposed to be the sidekick, or the joke, or the sad dead thing in the corner someone better off can pity. Or the villain. You’re none of those things. You’re the hero. Show that part. Show how alive you are now, and how alive you’ll stay, and how much glorious breadth there is in your life every day.

I believe in you.



*My kid, though, fits this narrative precisely.

Book Review: THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh

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Amazon | Goodreads

Notes on Diversity:
The Wrath and the Dawn is a book about a woman of color by a woman of color! Yay!

The cast is predominately Middle Eastern/North African.1 Shahrzad’s handmaiden, Despina, is Greek, and I read her as white, but she was the only character I read as white.

This is arguably a woman-centric book; a lot of people seem to think so. My opinion is a minority one, so stay tuned for that and your mileage may vary.

Readers looking for queer representation will see none here, not even in passing. This is an aggressively hetero book. Readers looking for any sort of socioeconomic/class discussions will also not see any of that here. All the characters come from wealthy families tuned into the political elite of the kingdom.

And as a note of warning, I personally found the book’s treatment of mental health a disappointment. Readers with sensitivities around suicide in particular may find the book lacking.


Review:
The Wrath and the Dawn has a lot of hype around it. It’s been extremely well-received. I was excited to read it! A retelling of 1,001 Nights centering on Shahrzad? Ok, that’s potentially tricky ground to navigate, but the reception was so warm by people whose taste I respect that I went into the book with high expectations.

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Me, with high book expectations

I am sorry to say my expectations were not met.

 

This book is so nearly-universally beloved that I have the strange experience of feeling like I must have read a completely different book than everyone else. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Ok. So.

The Wrath and the Dawn is about Shahrzad and Khalid. Khalid is the Caliph of Khorasan, and he is the one that is doing all the marrying/murdering of young girls. In this version of 1,001 nights, he is young and broody and handsome. Shahrzad is young and brave and murderous. When Khalid marry/murders Shahrzad’s cousin, Shahrzad volunteers to marry him. But she has a plan to bring him down.

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This set up is pretty damn great. It works for people who love the source material (me), and it works for people who don’t. But…it only works if the problematic elements of the source material are subverted.

The quick version is that I don’t believe this book works because this is less a retelling as it is a modern version of the same story, and as the story is brought forward, so are its nasty elements. Leaving aside the stylistic quibbles I had with Ahdieh’s writing, it was her narrative choices that really rubbed me raw. Ultimately, the book is not Shahrzad’s story, but Khalid’s…and it asks us to forget, or at least not to mind, that Khalid murdered all those girls so that he can be set up as a potential love interest for Shahrzad.

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hold up, book

My issues with the book go deeper than that, substantially so, but to dig into that is spoiler territory, so I’m putting that under a cut. Feel free to continue reading if you’d like and/or if you are not spoiler-averse. I also was unnerved by Ahdieh’s handling of sexual consent, issues regarding mental health, and the overall place in the narrative for men’s agency compared to women.

2 stars

Full spoiler-y analysis begins here.

Continue reading

New Patreon Release: “A Matter Of Circumstance”

 

AMatterOfCircumstance_CoverA brand new, never-before-seen Aerdhverse story is available via my Patreon for subscribers at the $1 level and up! For information about Patreon subscriptions and the reward tiers, go here.

This one, “A Matter of Circumstance”, is directly tied to Ariah; I don’t think you have to have read the book to enjoy the story, but the context probably helps. Here’s a blurb about the story.


Ariah’s abduction throws everything into chaos. What are Sorcha and Shayat willing to sacrifice to get him back? How does their story change? What do they mean to each other now that he is not there to intercede?


If you read this story and feel moved to write a review, you can do so on Goodreads here!