Time for another novella round-up post! Lately, thanks to all the slumps, I’ve been going more and more for shorter books. This time around, all three novellas reviewed are SFF and all are books I’d highly recommend.
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
– goodreads –
I picked this up as a breather while in the middle of much, much longer books. Guan Imm, a nun of the Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water joins in with a group of bandits after they cause an incident at the coffeeshop where she works. It’s hilarious, fast paced, and a general delight. A lot of Malaysian cultural references admittedly went over my head and I had to ask a friend for explanation, but it’s not like I especially mind things going over my head. And I’m an eternal sucker for found families.
Oh, and it’s also super queer.
If I have a complaint, it’s that it ended a little too abruptly, too openly. But perhaps there will be a sequel?
Recommended to: those looking for short, fun books, LGBTQ+ representation (bi, trans), or books that make no effort to explain things to a Western audience
Tags that apply: fantasy, female author, non-western, LGBTQ+ representation, religion, found families, just plain fun, historical, fast pacing, ownvoices, PoC representation
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
– goodreads –
This felt like a book I didn’t know I needed at the time. Set in a postapocalyptic, dystopian, western-like America, it follows Esther as she escapes an arranged marriage and sets off to join the Librarians – a group composed of several women and one non-binary person, who distribute propaganda materials. Well, allegedly. Along the way she has to face some a lot of uncomfortable truths, about what is really going on with the world, what the Librarians do, just how deep her brainwashing (for the lack of a better word) goes…but she also comes to terms with her own identity and finds a new family of sorts.
The pacing in this one was excellent for a novella, too. It did not feel rushed, there was just enough story for the length. The only complaint I have is that the worldbuilding broke my suspension of disbelief at a couple points, but nothing major. Would read more set in this world (and I normally hate dystopias!).
All in all, recommended!
Recommended to: those looking for queer characters and stories with the flavour and atmosphere of a western minus the racism and sexism (well, the setting is sexist, but the story is not)
Tags that apply: non-binary author, novella, found families, dystopia, western, LGBTQ+ representation, standalone, ownvoices
The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain
– goodreads –
I would never have read this if not for the need to make a last minute square swap for the r/fantasy Bingo, but I’m glad I did. It’s an excellent novella.
It’s set in a postapocalyptic world where the air is poisoned and the city of Kathmandu is a seeming utopia under control of an algorithm called Karma that ensures every citizen is healthy and taken care of, with additional points given for various useful deeds they do. Unfortunately (for them) a powerful djinn called Melek Ahmer awakens in the mountains and sets off to cause chaos, with the help of an outcast Gurkha.
The setting is highly original (don’t think I’ve ever seen SFF set in the Himalayas!) and the blend of tech and magic is fun. But what I loved the most was the sheer amount of chaos and disruption the rogue djinn caused. It was delightful. Absolutely no complaints about the pacing or the ending either.
Recommended to: those looking for unique settings, utopia-dystopias, revenge stories, or casual LGBTQ+ representation (the djinn is pansexual)
Tags that apply: male author, dystopia, sci-fi, fantasy, science fantasy, LGBTQ+ representation, just plain fun, novella, standalone