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Mini Reviews: The Haunting of Tram Car 015, The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Division Bells, Slippery Creatures, The Threefold Tie

Time for another mini review post to clear out my backlog a bit!

While it’s true that in the past few months the most I managed to finish was the occasional novella or romance book, I found some really, really good ones. If anyone else is looking for shorter (all except Slippery Creatures are novellas) or lighter reads, here are some I’d suggest.


The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark (Fatma el-Sha’arawi #2)



Well, this was fun! A novella about two ministry employees investigating the case of a haunted tram in magical Cairo, around the time when women were campaigning for their right to vote. The setting was very vibrant and immersive, I loved the bureaucratic elements, and it was a lot funnier than I expected. And, best of all, I’d consider it one of the few novellas that felt more or less long enough and well-paced, not too short, not with too much story for the page count – just right. Though I’d certainly like to read more of the same setting.

Also, anyone else who read it curious what does sweet sudjukh taste like?

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4/5

Tags that apply: fantasy, male author, novella, steampunk, historical, contemporary, bureaucracy, non-western, standalone, folktale-inspired

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo (The Singing Hills Cycle #1)

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Oh, this was lovely. It’s a story of an empress, of history, centering an old woman and a non-binary cleric (and their magic bird companion) and it’s executed flawlessly. The “I’m going to tell you the truth of what happened” framing device, the story-within-a-story structure, and meaningful epigraphs are things I have a huge weakness for. I find most novellas have pacing issues, but this is one of the very few that did not – most chapters were short and structured the same way, each containing a fragment of the big picture, which worked in its favour.

Enjoyment: 5/5
Execution: 5/5

Tags that apply: fantasy, female author, novella, LGBTQ+, folktale-inspired, non-western


Division Bells by Iona Datt Sharma

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This is the first book I finished after a longer-than-usual break. I usually have an aversion to contemp, but I liked the premise too much not to give it a try and it was so, so good. Delightfully bureaucratic (you wouldn’t think these words go together and yet), heartwarming, and the dynamic between them was perfection. Might be my sleep-deprived and generally addled brain, but it made me tear up too.

Either way, a combination of romance and politics, yes please!

Enjoyment: 5/5
Execution: 5/5

Tags that apply: contemporary, romance, non-binary author, will hurt you, novella, LGBTQ+, bureaucracy, mental health, politics, selfpub, standalone

Slippery Creatures by K.J. Charles (The Will Darling Adventures #1)

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Fast-paced, easy to read, full of twists. I went for a K.J. Charles book because I wanted something that reads fast and it more than delivered. I liked Will’s stubborn independence, I liked how much of a secretive shit Kim is, and it’s definitely a series to continue.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4/5

Tags that apply: historical romance, romance, female author, LGBTQ+, selfpub

The Threefold Tie by Aster Glenn Gray



A lovely, very sweet novella about trying to make a three-way relationship work. Lots of domestic scenes and an emphasis on communication. Since I’m a very visual person, I was bothered by the complete lack of physical descriptions of the male characters, but still – recommended if you want a short comfort read.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 3.5/5

Tags that apply: historical romance, romance, female author, novella, LGBTQ+, uplifting, selfpub, standalone

2 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: The Haunting of Tram Car 015, The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Division Bells, Slippery Creatures, The Threefold Tie”

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