fter the Dragons is quiet, thoughtful, and, above all, kind. It’s not easy to do right by one another, especially when we’re put in hard places without clear answers. Death, and how we face it, matters.
I had a few frustrations with The Ranger of Marzanna. There were many things I ought to have enjoyed more than I did – I love the idea of magic coming at a price of your own humanity, for example. Unfortunately, I struggled to connect with the characters and found the prose to be mediocre at best. The dialogue in particular tended to take me out of the narrative.
In order to get the most out of Driftwood, a reader must arm themselves ahead of time. Archeologists’ tools – brushes, trowels, and picks – are recommended. This, you see, is not merely a book… but an artefact of another world. Driftwood immerses the reader within its ever-shifting borders. It demands that the reader explore and discover, content in its own ergodicity without crossing the line into onanism. The constant press of the new and novel, the erasure of history and culture, and the preservation of individual identity within that atmosphere is explored with a subtle, deft hand. This is less a novel than it is a glimpse into a distant, alien future that might have been.
Né łe! was originally published in Love Beyond Body, Space and Time, an anthology forcused on indigenous science fiction and urban fantasy focusing on LGBT and two-spirit characters. It’s a beautiful little f/f love story that showcases indigenous women in STEM. Further, it does a great job at representing the differences between two women of different indigenous backgrounds. While they have similarities, their cultures are not presented as identical.
After having read and loved The Goblin Emperor, I was incredibly excited to see that Katherine Addison had a new book out! I cannot express how quickly I smashed “request” on NetGalley. Unfortunately, I regret to say that this book was a bit of a hot mess. Admittedly, I came into it with slightly incorrect expectations: when I heard that this novel had begun as a Sherlock Holmes wingfic, I instantly made the assumption that I would see some of my favorite tropes from that particular subgenre of fanfic. However, even outside of this mismatch of expectations, I felt that the book had major issues with pacing, character development, worldbuilding, and queer representation. It did not grab my attention at any juncture. Every time I thought it was going to do something interesting, it went nowhere. I felt set adrift and overall dissatisfied.
The Once and Future Witches is possibly the angriest book I have ever read in my life, which is very much something I can relate to. I, too, am angry – I’m angry that womanhood is a threat dangling over my head, I’m angry that it’s the source of trauma for me. I’m angry that I’ve been denied power, agency, and even basic respect. Often, I’m diminished for even implying that I’ve been denied these things. I’m told I’m imagining things, that sexism doesn’t exist even though I see its effects in my day to day life. It’s a man opening a training session with “Good morning, gentlemen!” and the abuse I went through when I was a mere child. Although Harrow’s prose is poetic and gorgeous as always, sheer fury seethes from the pages. This is a book about righteous, feminine anger. It is a book about tearing down the establishment that controls you and burning the fences they’ve built to cage you in. I don’t know if I am a woman, really, but perhaps I have the anger of one. I don’t know if I want my gender to be wrapped up in anger, but I can’t deny that it’s at the core of what womanhood has meant for me. It’s been fear, trauma, and, yes, a great deal of anger.
The Unspoken Name was fundamentally an incredibly comforting book. Although it was consistently difficult to sit down and focus due to the current situation, when I was able to do so, I really, really enjoyed it. Larkwood hearkens back to the early eras of epic fantasy, bringing the best of what I loved as a child forward into a modern, fresh new book.
Every culture has their folklore and in it their culture is reflected. It makes me so unhappy that so many people never get to see themselves in the fiction we read back when we were all in school – especially when I read a story that would have been just perfect. I think of those years of uncertainty and unhappiness. It could have been avoided. In isolation these past four weeks, these feelings are amplified. The missed opportunities for human connection and understanding feel all the more bittersweet. Why couldn’t we have had this story earlier? Why couldn’t we share it amongst ourselves and understand ourselves early? It seems a tragedy.
In The Little Free Library, Kritzer creates an imaginative fantasy around the idea of Little Free Libraries. If you’re unfamiliar with Little Free Libraries, they are, in essence, a “take one leave one” book box. The goal is to create a sense of community and giving focused on books. I’ve always been enamored of the idea, and it’s especially comforting in dark times like these. When we have to be physically separated, these little points of connection can keep us together.
It’s fairly rare that I read any middle grade books, but I saw Niki’s art for The Deep & Dark Blue and immediately fell in love. I knew at once that I had to check this book out. The bold colours and character designs work for me. When I heard it described as “Tamora Pierce, except if Alanna/Alan got to actually be trans,” that was all I needed to know. I headed off and snagged it from Bookshop. And honestly? It completely lived up to all my hopes and dreams.