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Well...so much for my goal to read all my CanCon 2019 books before CanCon 2020...oops? They're in my list! In the meantime, enjoy my "continuing to be swamped by the library holds" reviews...
#79: GIRL, SERPENT, THORN by Melissa Bashardoust
I LOVED this book.
I really like retellings of fairy tales and folklore, and though this wasn't precisely that, it feels so much like it that I was probably bound to enjoy it. My understanding is that it's based on elements from Persian folklore (e.g. divs feature heavily within the story), but not a retelling of any specific story.
It's a pretty fine line to walk, but enables the story to have those folkloric elements like curses and monsters and destinies, while still being a story that appeals very clearly to modern sensibilities and modern reckonings.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn follows Soraya, the sister of the shah, who has grown up with a curse: she cannot touch a living thing with her bare skin without killing it. When she finds out about a potential way to lift this curse, she begins to unravel the complicated story of her family's rise to power, and reckons with being "poisonous."
This is, bizarrely, not the first story about a girl able to kill anyone by touch that I've read and loved this year. I guess maybe this is a trope I enjoy? But also, this and The Obsidian Tower are very different books in many ways, though both very well written.
In particular, the thing that stands out to me about this book is the character of Soraya herself. She's fascinating and complex in a way that I feel female characters often aren't allowed to be; the narrative allows her to be deeply angry about what has happened to her, while still allowing for her to repent for the mistakes she makes.
Furthermore, I love the use of her curse, of the concept of being "poisonous." I love that it's portrayed as having caused her pain, yes, but also as a kind of power. There's so much going on thematically in this story about family and monstrousness, it's really really excellent. Also, the supporting characters are all well-drawn and fascinating, especially Soraya's one love interest, who has moth wings and was apparently made for me specifically. More moth-girls in fiction, please.
#80: SILVER IN THE WOOD by Emily Tesh
Oh, what a lovely little book!
I wasn't entirely sure what I was about to get into when I picked this book (novella?) up, and I ended up having a really great time with it. Giving information I feel risks giving too much away, but suffice to say, it is a story seeped in folklore and fairy tales and the writing makes it all come alive in a lush, beautiful way.
I know there's a sequel to this book, which is a little confusing to me, but I'm here for it. I really enjoyed this, and I hope you will too.
NEXT WEEK'S AGENDA
#81: The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
#82: Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko