This has been one of my most anticipated books of the year and the last book I read for this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo challenge. I was, first and foremost, intrigued by the Hungarian and Jewish influences. I like cultural worldbuilding, I like(d?) folktale-inspired fantasy, it seemed like a sure bet. Unfortunately, it was yet another disappointment – while I liked the themes of religious tolerance and the protagonist being torn between worlds, the plot was a nonsensical mess, the characters mediocre, and the ending more than a little eyebrow-raising, featuring one of my least favourite tropes. And not in a good way. The more I think about it, the less sense the plot makes – never a good thing.
However, due to the nature of my issues with the book, it’s impossible to talk about them in any detail without going heavily into spoiler territory. So be aware of that if you venture below the cut.
I have wanted to start the series since 2017, but have always been put off by the length. Long, slow, heavy books and series are something I’m almost never in the mood for lately, so in a way, I’m surprised that I went for it now. But while it was, indeed, too long for my mood, the plot was good enough that I was able to both finish and enjoy it.
Come for the scheming merchants, stay for the chekhov’s ostrich.
ARCreceived from the publisher (Tordotcom) in exchange for an honest review.
Part mystery, part creepy Southern Gothic ghost story, part dark academia, part an exploration of queer masculinity and grief, Summer Sons was like nothing else I ever read. I wasn’t sure if it’d be up my alley, I don’t go for horror, and the ARC request was of the experimental why-the-hell-not-my-friends-like-it kind, but damn it was good. I picked it up at exactly the right time.
Sometimes, you have books on your TBR without quite knowing why, except perhaps a vague impression that someone, sometime might have said something good about it. Books for one day, maybe, but not soon. The Diviners was one of those – but I went for it and I’m glad I did.
She was tired of being told how it was by this generation, who’d botched things so badly. They’d sold their children a pack of lies: God and country. Love your parents. All is fair. And then they’d sent those boys, her brother, off to fight a great monster of a war that maimed and killed and destroyed whatever was inside them. Still they lied, expecting her to mouth the words and play along. Well, she wouldn’t.
I’m actually not sure where I first heard of the book or what drew me in. The cover? The concept? The fact that it’s based on a Portuguese legend? Was it on some list of sapphic SFF? All of the above? But it felt like a good impulse read all of a sudden, so I went in.
No one wants to be a real hero; it’s too hard. My husband didn’t give a damn whether the work I was doing was noble as long as it appeared to be. When I killed someone then—something I did a lot more than I do now—it was for the greater good. It was such bullshit.
I’ve never much liked or cared about superheroes – what’s some asshole in a cape? Despite my friends’ gushing, I didn’t put Hench on my radar until there was a sale, and….wait. Mundane job? Spreadsheets? Fuck me, I’m in. I’ve always had enough of a hard-on for bureaucracy and other usually boring shit in books to override subgenre preferences and sure enough, it was exactly my thing. The characters’ low opinion of superheroes was the final cherry on top.
And we’re all a little frayed around the edges, aren’t we? It doesn’t surprise me and it doesn’t frighten me, finding out you’re only human like the rest of us.
This is one of my favourite finds this year.
Have you ever wondered what happens to children violently thrown from portal fantasy worlds? Do you think Susan from Narnia deserved better? Are you looking for something quiet and melancholy? Did you wish the Wayward Children novellas were darker and longer? Then you should absolutely read it.
Once again, it’s time for a batch of mini reviews. I might not be in a reading slump anymore, not quite, but I am in a bit of a reviewing slump and I finally have enough of these hoarded up for a post.
ARC received from the publisher (Orbit) in exchange for an honest review.
I know there is no higher power that sanctions a king or an emperor. There is only the moment when power is placed in your hands, and there is one truth: either you take the power and wield it, or someone else will. And perhaps they will not be as kind to you and yours.
I should not have put this off as long as I did – my fears about this book being a slow read because it was epic fantasy were baseless. Not only does it largely live up to the hype, it reads really really fast as well. And the romance subplot is exquisite – sapphic, morally gray, with with a strong hurt/comfort element.