Mini Reviews: Bitter, Two Dark Moons, The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories, Aurora’s Angel

Still behind on two reviews from the April reading frenzy, plus with a more recently read anthology and another DNF, it’s time for mini reviews yet again. All of them were read (or, in the case of Aurora’s Angel, attempted) for this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo, respectively the Revolutions & Rebellions, No Ifs, Ands or Buts, Short Stories, and Shapeshifters squares.

Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi (Pet #0.5)

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goodreads

Bitter is a student at the Eucalyptus art school. In and out of foster homes since she was very young, she doesn’t want to be part of any revolution – she just wants to be safe and make art. But between her revolutionary friends and her ability to make paintings come to life, she may not have much of a choice.

While Pet felt almost middle grade in tone despite some heavy themes, Bitter feels solidly YA, which suited me much better. It’s still not especially subtle, intentionally so, but there was more nuance later on than I expected at the beginning.  And as in Phoenix Extravagant, I liked that the protagonist was reluctant, not jumping at the call right at the start. It feels more relatable. There is also much to think about and discuss (especially about justice) in there, making Bitter ideal for a bookclub – especially since it’s short and reading the previous book is not at all required.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4/5

Tags that apply: fantasy, non-binary author, standalone, lgbtq+ representation, concept-focused, YA

Two Dark Moons by Avi Silver (Sãoni Cycle #1)

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goodreads

Really enjoyed this. The worldbuilding is extremely creative, with communities living on pillars, gender based on the phase of the moons someone was born in, and giant sentient lizards, among other things. The story is fairly standard YA coming of age, outcast finds themself kinda deal, and it’s well done, well paced, and fun to read. Oh, it’s also extremely queer.

Looking forward to reading the sequel!

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4/5

Tags that apply: fantasy, non-binary author, lgbtq+ representation, YA, non-western, coming of age

The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin

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goodreads

Look. I don’t like anthologies and I don’t like short stories but Bingo is Bingo and I figured I’d give hard mode a try. I suppose it’s well composed, with a good spectrum of authors, but as with all anthologies, there some stories that draw you in and some that don’t, and as a whole I unfortunately ended up with no clear favourites and more I disliked than what I liked, more stories that made me go “huh, is that really it?” or “what did I just read” than enjoyable/memorable ones. In short, I remain unpersuaded about multi-author anthologies 😂

Enjoyment: 2/5
Execution: 4/5

Tags that apply: male author, female author, non-binary author, fantasy, sci-fi, anthology, non-western (mostly)

Aurora’s Angel by Emily Noon

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goodreads

DNF 13%, much, much earlier than I usually DNF, but the dialogue was so awkward and stiff and unnatural and full of infodump it felt like nails on a chalkboard. I just couldn’t get past it. Plus Evie sounds extremely immature (even though she’s supposed to be an adult) and bratty, which made my irritation even worse. That might get better or it might not, but I hate the writing too much to find out.

Enjoyment: 1/5
Execution: 1.5/5

Tags that apply: DNF, not a fan, female author, portal fantasy, romance, lgbtq+ representation, standalone, slow pacing

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