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This sure was a weird couple of books to read in one week, huh?
On one level, they're not that dissimilar - they're both horror-ish, at least, which is something? I'm genuinely unsure of what else would have paired better. At least they are alike in being extremely unique reading experiences, and I can't imagine pairing either, but particularly Jones' book, with something fluffier.
This is what happens when your reading schedule is determined largely by the library holds.
#65: THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS by Stephen Graham Jones
Oh boy was this book a wild ride! I...I think I liked it, though it was definitely touch and go a couple of times there.
I'm not even sure how to attempt to give a brief synopsis without spoilers. Basically, the story follows four Indigenous men (more or less) as an event from their past catches up to them, and scary things ensue. I think that's about all I can give without spoilers, though if you want something that might have helped me while I was reading, [SPOILERS] there IS definitely a supernatural happening, though it takes a little while to get there [/SPOILERS]
I will give a warning for violence and gore, against both animals and humans (and specifically against women, kind of?) Also, I found this book to be genuinely scary, or maybe more accurately, genuinely disturbing, for whatever that's worth (though as discussed a couple weeks ago, I am a bit of a weenie).
Some vague, spoiler-ish thoughts: I think I lack some cultural context to fully understand the themes of the story, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I'm not sure if Jones was specifically riffing off Deer Woman legends, but I was really into that connection. What is it about deer specifically that we find to be scary? Is it the antlers? Anyway. Also, use of second person POV, which is always really fun.
The characters are well-rendered, even if not necessarily always likeable, and I was rooting for them to make it out. The thing that I think stands out the most, though, is the creeping sense of dread that the author manifests: absolutely necessary in horror, and extremely well-done.
I think what really made this book work for me was the ending, because like I mentioned, I teetered a couple times over whether this was going in the "extremely competently made but holy shit did it make me feel bad" category or the "scary and awful but enjoyable reading experience." I thought that the payoff was absolutely worth it, and totally satisfying, though it may not be for everyone.
I imagine this book might get DNF'd around the point where everything goes Weird and Horrible (about 100 pages in), and I would urge people to try to stick it through, but also, I would kind of understand. It doesn't necessarily get less horrible, but the horribleness has a point, and, like I said, it pays off really well (and you are reading a horror story, so, y'know).
All in all, my next quest is definitely to seek out more of this author's work!
#66: HARROW THE NINTH by Tamsyn Muir
(...it feels oddly appropriate that this is book #66)
God, how to talk about Harrow the Ninth.
I mean, if you're looking for the short version: it's good. It's wildly experimental and deeply weird and an excellent follow-up to Gideon - it builds on the world and the themes in ways that make sense, definitely push it from weird horror-fantasy into science fiction, and answers, frankly, more questions than I was expecting it to.
Truthfully, I found the ending to be a bit unsatisfying, but such is the nature of second books in trilogies. Very little is resolved at the end of the book, and I'm still a little bit confused by several aspects of the story, but I'm less confused than I expected to be, if that makes any sense
I read this book a little after most people I follow did, and while I avoided spoilers pretty well, I was still aware of people tweeting out their vague impressions, and I feel like my reading experience was a bit...different? The common theme I seemed to see was that the book makes no sense for about 70%, and then continues to not make a lot of sense. I did not feel this way!
It might be a different approach to reading - I was, as I often am, perfectly happy to let the author take me on a journey of her own making. Harrow doesn't quite have the same narrative voice as Gideon (appropriately), but I genuinely was having a lot of fun with the novel, even when I didn't know what was going on. The writing is still excellent, and I like to speculate.
And OH BOY was there stuff to speculate about.
Without getting into spoiler territory, I was pretty happy about all the reveals; they all made sense with the build up from book one and book two, and honestly, I was happy to get ANY answers - I had been half-convinced I would have to wait until book 3. I loved the use of second person, and I loved the weird jumping around, and I loved the weird meme references, though I think those are best discovered for yourself. I loved just spending time with the characters, new and old (oops, was that a spoiler?)
Also, you know I'm ALWAYS here for queer immortal polyamory.
Anyway, I really enjoyed it, I'm looking forward to rereading both Gideon and Harrow to look for clues, and I'm ESPECIALLY excited for Alecto the Ninth!
NEXT WEEK'S AGENDA:
#67: On The Come Up by Angie Thomas
#68: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron