Tag Archives: Rebecca Roanhorse

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

Dazzling Diverse Fantasy: Fevered Star and The Gilded Ones

27 Apr

Myth, legends, and traditions have always worked their way into fantasy, but for years much of what was written in English drew from European history or if it looked elsewhere it was through an “exotic” outsider lens. It is exciting to see so many People of Color, especially women, writing and getting published fantasy works inspired by their own cultures. Here are two powerful works I enjoyed recently.

Fevered Star
Fevered Star is alive with strong willed characters that kept me turning the page. I was especially drawn to Xiala a Teek whose voice has power and Serapio who though literally now a powerful god still manages to have the complexity of a lesser man. This is a second book so the various strands of each main character are interwoven together, but they are distanced from one another. The series is set in a Fantasy American Continent drawing from native myths and legends. I would recommend to other readers starting with Black Sun and then reading Fevered Star to better understand the underlying political dynamics at work. The end of Fevered Star definitely left me hungry for the third book in the series. Rebecca Roanhorse is an African American and Indigenous author. I was provided an advanced copy of Fevered Star by Net Galley/SAGA Press.

The Gilded Ones
The Gilded Ones is the first in a series by Namina Forna. The next book, The Merciless Ones, will be coming out at the end of this month. Forna immigrated from West Africa as a child and her experiences there helped to inspire some of the novel’s story. In The Gilded Ones, women are considered impure if they bleed gold when cut. They must choose between death and becoming warriors whose service to the emperor will purify them. But all is not what it seems, in this inspiring work of feminist fantasy. Although it is listed as a Young Adult work, adults will also enjoy this book. We read it as part of our monthly HPL Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group.

Both series are available from elibraryNJ and in print from BCCLS Libraries.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Service Manager

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