Review of Black Wolves by Kate Elliot

20980680Black Wolves by Kate Elliott. ★★★★

Trigger Warning: Rape

This may be my favorite read yet from Kate Elliott, and I have the feeling that this trilogy will become one of my all time epic fantasy series. If non-Western epic fantasy with loads of ladies who do things sounds like something you’d like, then you need to read Black Wolves.

The first hundred pages of Black Wolves introduce many of the central characters, but everything then changes after a forty-four year time skip. King Anjihosh saved the Hundred from demons and conquered it in the process. The story starts with Kellas, a captain of the Black Wolves, the king’s elite unit of soldiers and spies. The king’s son, Atani, learns of a family secret and soon after disappears. Kellas is tasked with his retrieval. The first section ends soon after. In the time skip, Atani both became king and was murdered on one fateful night still shrouded in questions and mysteries. Now Atani’s son is king, and he fears that no one around him can be trusted. His aunt Dannarah enlists a now elderly Kellas to return to safeguard her nephew and his kingdom.

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Review of Wilders by Brenda Cooper

31246586Wilders by Brenda Cooper. ★1/2

Trigger warning: suicide

Reading Wilders was a struggle from the get go. It took me three weeks to finish. I haven’t had this much difficulty forcing myself to finish something since my senior English class read Faulkner. I may take Faulkner over Wilders.

The future is divided between the cities and the unincorporated land outside them, intended to be restored to nature and wilderness. Coryn Williams lives in the megacity of Seacouver but is left orphaned after her parents double suicide. Her sister Lou leaves her behind to become a ranger, working for an NGO on the outside. On her eighteenth birthday, Coryn is determined to reunite with Lou… so she ventures outside her city, accompanied only by her robot Paula.

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Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

60932Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler. ★★★★

Trigger warning: Sexual assault

Parable of the Talents somehow manages to be even darker than the first book, Parable of the Sower. Of course, I knew it’d be dark. Octavia Butler’s work is always intense. But even prepared for it, Parable of the Talents was difficult to read in places.

Like it’s predecessor, Parable of the Talents follows Lauren, a young woman driven by her religious revelations of something she calls Earthseed. At the end of Parable of the Sower, Lauren had formed Acorn, a small community based around Earthseed. Six years later, the world is a less chaotic place than it was during Parable of the Sower. Things are still bad, but they’re bad in a different way. Mobs of arsonists and looters are no longer the main threat to Acorn. The danger is instead in growing religious intolerance and the rise of a far right Christian group, Christian America, that wants to make “America great again.” And by “great,” they mean their type of Christianity.

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Review of The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig

30653880The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig. ★★★

This YA time traveling book is the sequel to The Girl from Everywhereand I suggest the series be read in order. While I find the time traveling method quite novel, reading The Ship Beyond Time made me realize I wasn’t caring about the characters enough to want to continue with this series.

Nyx has finally taken the helm, directing her family’s ship through the tides of history. She’s thrilled… until she learns what fate awaits her. She’s destined to suffer the same fate has her father, losing the one she loves. Is it possible to change time itself? A mysterious stranger claims he knows the secret of it, and he requests Nyx’s presence at a mythical island where nothing is as it seems.

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Review of The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

32714267The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente. ★★★1/2

Catherynne Valente tackles gendered superhero tropes with this collection of six stories. The girls of the Hell Hath Club are dead, but they’ve found each other for company is the strange expanse of Deadtown. They gather together, drink Styx water, and commiserate about their lives and deaths. Superheroines, girlfriends of superheroes, supervillainesses… they all got the short end of the stick.

I’m not super knowledgeable about comic books. I’ve seen some movies, read a few issues of Ms. Marvel, but that’s pretty much it. However, I could still tell which comic book characters most of the dead girls were supposed to be. The first one, a scientist who accidentally gives her boyfriend superpowers, is clearly based off of some girlfriend of Spiderman. The extremely powerful, only woman on her team heroine with psychic powers sounded a lot like a certain X-Man. An off kilter villainess with an impressive but misplaced loyalty to her man could be no one but Harley Quinn. Another’s the wife of Aquaman, not quite dead but slipped out of her asylum to search Deadtown for her murdered son. Of the six women, there were only two I couldn’t connect to any Marvel or DC characters. One is the famous girl in the fridge, who I’ve heard of before but don’t know much about. According to other reviewers, the last is a riff off of Karen Page, who I only know from the Netflix series.

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