It’s Complicated: Fantasy Novellas with Complex Relationships

16 Nov

Often with fantasy fiction and movies there is the “good” guy and the “bad” guy, but in two fantasy novellas I enjoyed recently, Tread of Angels and Nothing But Blackened Teeth, things are more complicated than that as are the relationships depicted between the characters.

Tread of Angels
by Rebecca Roanhorse

I had written previously about Rebecca Roanhorse’s Between Earth and Sky series so was curious when I was offered an ARC copy of Tread of Angels from the publisher. This story takes place in an entirely different setting from her previous works, in an Old West where the descendants of Angels and Demons reside. For a short work, it brings up a lot of complex issues about race, family, friendship, romantic relationships and what makes someone “good” or “evil.” Celeste, the main protagonist, can pass in appearance for one of the Elect, though she is of mixed descent and also part Fallen. When her sister is accused of murder she must try to find the truth, forcing her to seek the help of her former demon love for whom she still has feelings. The conclusion surprised me but felt satisfying to the story that was being told, which to me is always the signs of a talented storyteller.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth
by Cassandra Khaw

Nothing But Blackened Teeth was suggested by one of our Science Fiction and Fantasy book club members for our Halloween read this year, when we pick things that veer into the horror genre. It is set in an old Japanese mansion where a group of childhood friends go for a wedding, where the ghost stories they tell awaken the yokai, Japanese spirits, living there including the Ohaguro Bettari, a faceless bride whose only feature is her black teeth, a style that was popular with wealthy women in the Edo period to show they were married. This isn’t your typical haunted house story and like with Tread of Angels, I and the other book discussion group members were surprised by the ending. Again it is another work that will have you question who the “evil” ones really are. While some of the group members would have preferred the story be a bit longer, we had a interesting discussion about toxic friendships. I enjoyed the lush language throughout, which managed to bring beauty to the horror.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

2 Responses to “It’s Complicated: Fantasy Novellas with Complex Relationships”

  1. readinginthewildwood November 16, 2022 at 1:25 pm #

    Both of these sound amazing. I’ve loved Rebecca Roanhorse in the past and I love her work.

    • hobokenpubliclibrary November 16, 2022 at 1:36 pm #

      Hope you like them. I’ve really enjoyed everything by Rebecca Roanhorse that I have read; definitely becoming one of my favorite authors!

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