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enne📚

picklish@books.theunseen.city

Joined 1 year, 7 months ago

I read largely sff, some romance and mystery, very little non-fiction. I'm trying to write at least a little review of everything I'm reading this year, but it's a little bit of an experiment in progress.

I'm @picklish@weirder.earth elsewhere.

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Waubgeshig Rice: Moon of the Crusted Snow (2018) 5 stars

"A daring post-apocalyptic novel from a powerful rising literary voice. With winter looming, a small …

Moon of the Crusted Snow

5 stars

Moon of the Crusted Snow is a story about a small, remote Anishinaabe community surviving through the beginning of an apocalypse. Power goes out, communication is down, and they turn inward to try to take care of their community, through leadership struggles, limited food, and the chaos of taking in strangers. I read this as a part of July's #SFFBookClub book.

I quite enjoyed the smaller focused story of survival here, where the outside world is at the margins. It centers a small Anishinaabe community, and about its dread and uncertainty and adaptation as everything starts to slowly unravel when winter sets in.

For me, the part that set the tone of the entire story was the conversation that Evan Whitesky has with the elder Aileen Jones, about halfway through the book. She says that there's no word for apocalypse in Ojibwe. But more than that, she says that their …

replied to enne📚's status

Content warning major spoilers for Fathomfolk

reviewed Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan

Eliza Chan: Fathomfolk (Hardcover, 2024, Orbit) 4 stars

Welcome to Tiankawi – shining pearl of human civilization and a safe haven for those …

Fathomfolk

4 stars

Fathomfolk is the first book in a fantasy politics duology, set in a partially flooded city where humans and magical sea creatures called fathomfolk (sirens and sea witches and kelpies) try to live together in the city of Tiankawi. It's a story about rebellion, power dynamics, and exploitation.

I quite enjoyed all the various perspectives in this book. There's Mira the half-siren captain of the guard, who is trying to make it in the human world but gets disdained as the airquotes diversity candidate. There's Nami the rebellious dragon child who gets exiled to Tiankawi and gets caught up in the currents of rebellion there. Finally, there's Cordelia the sea witch who is mostly out for herself, making bargains and pulling strings.

The ending sets up quite a bit for the final book in terms of large scale changes and future plot hooks that will need to be dealt with, …

reviewed Upstart by Lu Ban

Upstart

4 stars

Remember that it is your obligation to die before the end of your legal life.

Lu Ban's Upstart is a dystopian novelette about the government giving people the opportunity to be paid a lot of money in exchange for half of their lifespan in order to curtail population growth.

This story does a lot of worldbuilding through the eyes of one such Upstart who has taken this deal. It doesn't overtly tie overpopulation worries to fascism, but it is very explicit about how these "new money" upstarts are very much second class undesirable citizens in the eyes of this world.

This is what I love out of short fiction: a good hook, some worldbuilding, and a sharp ending--pondering personal questions of the value of life and what makes life worth living while also having a capitalist twist of the knife.

Rebecca Thorne: Can't Spell Treason Without Tea (2022, Thorne, Rebecca) 4 stars

All Reyna and Kianthe want is to open a bookshop that serves tea. Worn wooden …

Can't Spell Treason Without Tea

5 stars

Rebecca Thorne's Can't Spell Treason Without Tea is a cozy sapphic romance fantasy, explicitly in the vein of Travis Baldree's work. The book focuses on the (prexisting, and secret) relationship between a palace guard and a powerful mage. When the queen pushes too far, they treasonously abandon responsibility to set up a combination teashop/bookshop in a small town, like you do. It feels like there's larger stakes here than in similar books, but they're still personal and local ones. I'd also argue that these two are so competent in their own domains that any conflict feels much more about the potential emotional impact than a true worrisome threat.

I appreciated the amount of worldbuilding heft here. I am always a sucker for anything that opens with a fantasy map, and I felt like small bordertown Tawney was interestingly situated both geographically and politically. It's caught between three countries, and has …

Andrea Hairston: Archangels of Funk (2024, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 3 stars

Archangels of Funk

3 stars

I wanted Archangels of Funk to work for me, but I struggled with its prose. Some of it was the rhythm of short choppy sentences; however, a lot of it was that it felt "no show" and all "third person omniscient tell" that provided details in a jarring manner.

It's got a really unique style (and I truly mean that positively) and I enjoyed the way that it gets into resisting capitalism and post-apocalyptic despair through theater and magical technology, but this book just wasn't for me.

(Also, this is on me, but I only realized belatedly that this is a sequel to Will Do Magic for Small Change and not a standalone book, and maybe this would have stood better for me if it had? To my credit, this is not mentioned anywhere on either side of the dust jacket or in any of the copy, and I think …

Sofia Samatar: The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain 4 stars

The boy was raised as one of the Chained, condemned to toil in the bowels …

The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain

4 stars

The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain is a lyrical science fiction parable whose strength is in the development of its titular metaphors through its characters and worldbuilding.

The book follows an unnamed boy released from physical labor in the hold of a starship into the care of a woman professor, as part of an uplift university program. We get to see her world through his eyes, as he copes with unwanted changes to his life and as she learns to trust him. It turns out that she too her own set of different chains.

There's a lot of details I really enjoyed: names as a class distinguisher, interrogation of university politics, some horrifying about-face character and worldbuilding reveals, and also just the strength of the chain metaphor to show that what binds us also connects us.

Suyi Davies Okungbowa: David Mogo (Paperback, 2019, Abaddon) 3 stars

Nigerian God-Punk - a powerful and atmospheric urban fantasy set in Lagos.

Since the Orisha …

David Mogo: Godhunter

3 stars

(Reposting this here to keep all my book reviews in one place, sorry!)

David Mogo Godhunter is a urban fantasy book about a demigod living in post-apocalyptic Nigeria. Gods and godlings have invaded and taken over and destroyed large parts of Lagos, and David is scraping out a living capturing wayward godlings that are causing trouble.

The strongest part of the book for me was the Lagos setting, of its island and mainland, and its observations about culture even in a post-apocalyptic world. It's just got such a solid sense of place running through the whole book.

The beginning of the book hooked me with David getting forced into a job he doesn't want to take, but the middle and end got very muddy plot-wise and character-wise. Some of this is that due to some plot it felt like David became a different (and less likeable) character. I think also …

replied to enne📚's status

Content warning cw: minor spoilers for Thursday Murder Club, police violence, suicide, disordered eating

reviewed The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (The Thursday Murder Club, #1)

Richard Osman: The Thursday Murder Club (Paperback, 2021, Penguin Books) 4 stars

Welcome to... THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet …

The Thursday Murder Club

4 stars

The Thursday Murder Club is a murder mystery book that centers a group of people from a posh retirement community who take it upon themselves to try to solve local mysteries. The characters are a delight and the mystery is solid: red herrings, bonus mysteries, and satisfying answers.

The best part about this book is the characters themselves and their retirement community. It felt like a real portrayal of folks who might live there and what they're dealing with--grief around death of loved ones and friends, the possibilities (and realities) of senility and disability, and also just the complications of younger family. All of the characters felt like unique and interesting people, and it was quite fun to see the murder club team in action playing off of each other.

(All that said, there are some minor unintended things in this book that rubbed me the wrong way that I'll …

reviewed Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden

Nicky Drayden: Escaping Exodus (2019, HarperCollins Publishers) 4 stars

Escaping Exodus is a story of a young woman named Seske Kaleigh, heir to the …

Escaping Exodus

4 stars

Escaping Exodus is an afrofuture science fiction novel about future space colonists living inside of giant space whales. It's a hard book to pin down--it's messy, literally and metaphorically.

I want to say this book is a YA book, as it feels like bingo full coverage of ghosthoney's dystopian YA tiktok video. Forbidden love across exaggerated and artificial class boundaries. Wild biological worldbuilding elements. Matriarchy and gender flips. Novel family structures. Horrible Omelas-esque abuses. One of the protagonists starts a revolution. But, it's also much darker and full of way more body horror than I usually expect from YA as well.

I would love to know if there is a word for this, but this book engages in the technique where it uses a common noun like "heart murmur" but then it turns out to have an unexpected meaning in this world. In this case, Adalla is a beastworker …

Tantie Merle and the Farmhand 4200

4 stars

RSA Garcia's Tantie Merle and the Farmhand 4200 is a delightful short story about a grandma on a farm who needs some help with her planting and her ornery goat, and finds both assistance and friendship in the form of a determinedly helpful robot.

My thought was, what if the singularity arises due to an empathetic purpose, like the desire to help and be of service to those in need, instead of data mining an Internet that’s basically a repository of our worst impulses?

This is the quote that hooked me from this interview in the same issue of Uncanny.

reviewed The Husbands by Holly Gramazio

Holly Gramazio: The Husbands (Hardcover) 4 stars

When Lauren returns home to her flat in London late one night, she is greeted …

The Husbands

4 stars

The Husbands is a light-hearted book whose core premise is a marriage-themed time loop/multiverse situation: whenever Lauren's husband goes into the attic, an entirely new husband comes down instead, and reality warps itself so that this is the husband she's always had. Shenanigans.

This goes in a lot of directions I enjoyed. It explores the "what if" feeling of imagining what different relationships and lives would like with different people in them. There's funny montages of "nope not this one, nor this one, nope nope nope". There's a hilarious "is this husband cheating on me" scene. There's an incredibly awkward "oh I have a different job and I have no idea how to do it or even who my boss is" moment. There's also the nature of understanding who you are by seeing the ways you do and do not change in different multiverse situations.

Some of the time loop-esque …

reviewed Small Wonders Issue 7

Small Wonders Issue 7

4 stars

Here's my favorite bits of Small Wonders Issue 7. I'm still slowly catching up on these from last year, but I'm glad to see this magazine got kickstarted for another year.

A poem about feline love and a mummy's chronic pain. Unsurprisingly, I feel really called to stories about chronically exhausted narrators (and wish I too could mummy curse anything that irritated me).

A fun story about death, hidden queer love, and the perception of being a "good girl".