sarahmichigan: (kitty)
[personal profile] sarahmichigan
"Everfair" by Nisi Shawl, a steampunk fantasy novel set mostly in the Congo during the time of King Leopold's reign (late 1800s to early 1900s). In our real history, Leopold was a monster, forcing native people to work for free harvesting rubber to enrich Belgium, kidnapping famlies to keep workers in line and punishing those who rebelled by lopping off limbs. In the alternative history of "Everfair," a group of black and white missionaries, both religious and secular, carve out a piece of the Congo as a respite for former slaves and other black folk who need a peaceful refuge. The story includes double-dealing by Leopold, spy missions and battles fought from air ballons. It also follows the personal relationships of Everfair residents, including polyamorous marriages, same-sex romances, and interracial and and cross-generational marriages. I found this book to be beautifully written but somewhat flawed. Because the narrative is spread out through such a huge set of characters, it's hard to care deeply about any one character. Overall, I liked it and would recommend it, but  it is a book that can take a few chapters to pull you in, and it requires some patience with a slower pace than many other fantasy novels.

and

"The Departed" by Kristy Cooper, the first in a planned trilogy also called "The Departed" series. The premise for the series is: "What if somebody tried to fake the Rapture?" The main character, Gwen, is a bookworm, and her friend Lana goes missing in an event that many people is a biblical event called The Rapture. Gwen finds some evidence that it is being faked to convince more people to join the True Believer Temple. She and her friend/crush Isaiah go on an adventure to find the truth. I found the writing somewhat flawed in places, but the plot pulled me in and kept me reading, so that's a big plus in its favor. I'm looking forward to the second installment, "The Sainted." See a book trailer for the series here.

My full comments on both books here.
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