Safiyya: For March’s buddy read, Hailey and I read Firekeeper’s Daughter, by Angeline Boulley, a YA mystery/thriller about an Anishnabe girl who gets pulled into a murder/drug investigation in her community.

 

After eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine witnesses her best friend’s death, she becomes determined to root out the drug ring that has taken hold over her town. After joining forces with an undercover FBI agent, she faces a series of increasingly dangerous challenges as she hunts down source of the drugs and the people masterminding the operation. To solve this case, Daunis will have to investigate her family and closest friends, test her own abilities, and come to terms with her identity as a biracial woman in a colonial world.

 

Readers, we loved it. Daunis is such an incredibly compelling main character, and I was rooting for her throughout the book. She is strong and brave, but that doesn’t prevent her from being vulnerable and flawed. I loved the side characters, from Daunis’s badass aunt to Lily’s badass grandmother. I loved that the adult characters were not infantalized, nor pushed to the margins, as happens in many novels with the YA Publisher’s Generic Gloss (TM). I loved the deeper insights into Anishnabe history and traditions. I loved most of the twists and turns of the mystery (more on that later).

 

Angeline Boulley spent several years working on this novel, and she chose to keep the setting in 2004. Blackberry phones are all the rage, the Internet is still a nascent thing, and meth is the biggest danger facing high school kids. None of this feels dated; the story is simply set at a specific time and place, and it is all the better for that decision. Some of the plot elements wouldn’t work as well in the age of the Internet and social media, and it was refreshing to revisit a different period that still felt contemporary and relatable. Boulley also drew upon her own experiences as an Ojibwe woman, and as such, the story is a fascinating blend of the mystery and coming-of-age genres, with deep dives into Anishnabe traditional history.

 

I am increasingly not a fan of first-person POV in the present tense, which seems to be the default for all YA novels these days. (I generally find this form of storytelling to have a kind of breathless, messy pacing. and I suspect the fell hand of publishers who are still trying to reproduce the Hunger Games series.) All that being said, the first-person, present tense actually worked for me in this book, and all credit should be given to Angeline Boulley for her deft writing style and pacing. I can hardly believe this was Boulley’s first novel; she writes with such confidence and smoothness.

 

If I had one complaint or criticism about the book, it would be that the resolution of the mystery fell a bit flat for me. (Vague spoilers for the ending here; skip to the next paragraph to avoid.) We have this big, corrupt gang of criminals who are in various positions of power within the society, and they are apparently taking orders from a teenager? It seems unlikely, given the specific characters involved, and the book needed a fuller explanation as to how this situation came about. Some of the villainous characters also seemed to regress in their complexity, becoming two-dimensional and uncomplicatedly evil for evil’s sake. On the other hand, the emotional resolution of Daunis’s character arc was handled beautifully, and the final chapters of the book are pitch-perfect. If I had to choose between a satisfying ending for the mystery or the coming-of-age story, I would much prefer the latter.

 

I look forward to reading whatever Angeline Boulley’s next project happens to be, and I would definitely encourage people to check out Firekeeper’s Daughter. Since Netflix has apparently optioned the rights for an adaptation, hopefully we will see an increased awareness and interest in the book.

 

Content Warning: Please be aware, this book portrays drug addiction, sexual assault, racism, suicide, and the effects of the residential school system.

Title page for Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My whole life, I’ve been seeking validation of my identity from others. Now that it’s within my reach, I realize I don’t need it.

Angeline Boulley

 

Safiyya: For February’s buddy read, Hailey and I read Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey, an urban fantasy/mystery set in modern-day America.

 

Private investigator Ivy Gamble is called in to investigate the mysterious death of a teacher at Osthorne Academy for Young Mages. Although Ivy claims to hate everything to do with magic, she secretly longs to be a magician like her talented sister. She decides to take the case, live out her inner fantasy of belonging to the magical community, and reconnect with her estranged sister. In the course of her investigation, she comes across snotty teenagers, prophecies, secret relationships, and impossible magic.

 

I will get straight to the point – I did not particularly enjoy this book. It had an engaging mystery plot, side characters whom I found interesting, and fascinating world-building with regard to the magic. Nonetheless, I almost DNF’ed Magic for Liars because I was so utterly exasperated with the main character Ivy. Since everything after the prologue was written in first-person POV from Ivy’s perspective, there was really no way to escape her. As such, I mostly spent the book quietly seething at this annoying brat and her increasingly poor decision-making.

 

Just to be clear, Ivy is a fully adult woman in her mid-thirties, with a fairly good life:

 

  • She is a white, American, heteronormative, upper-middle-class woman. As far as we know, she has never experienced abuse, oppression, or discrimination or any kind.
  •  She has never been deprived of anything for her basic needs. She didn’t have any worries about food or shelter through her childhood, and her parents apparently paid for her college education.
  • Speaking of which, she has a loving family, and if she was ever in need support, or a home, or really anything, she could always go to her father or sister for help.
  • She has no physical or mental health conditions that would potentially restrict her abilities or life choices.
  • She seems to like her work as an investigator, and it seems to pay well enough that she still doesn’t have any concerns about money.

 

Ivy has more than most people will ever have, and yet she spends twenty-seven chapters of a twenty-seven-chapter book complaining that her life is ruined forever because she doesn’t have magical powers.

 

(Incidentally, Ivy doesn’t actually need magical powers. Most of the people around her don’t even believe in magic. She just wants to have magic powers, because her sister Tabitha got to have magic powers, and it’s not fair that Ivy can’t also be gifted, and she deserves to have magic powers too. Basically, this book felt like it was all about Petunia Dursley from the Harry Potter series.)

 

Aside from Ivy’s constant obsession about not having magic powers, she pursues a relationship by constantly lying to her romantic interest, tries to reconnect with her sister by accusing the latter of de facto killing their mother, and just generally spends a lot of time complaining about how teenagers are so ungrateful for all of the things they have. Blegh.

 

Protagonists are not always likeable, and I don’t need a protagonist to be likeable in order to appreciate a book. But a protagonist should at least be compelling enough to draw the reader through the story. I think the author meant to portray Ivy as a compelling and somewhat sympathetic character, and I think the reader is meant to root for her success. Unfortunately, I was not able to do so, and that is why I would struggle to recommend this book.

 

In spite of my overall feelings about Magic for Liars, there were some positive points:

  • Sarah Gailey has a good writing style and sense of pacing
  • She sets up the murder mystery and revelation of suspects quite well. She also plays with some classical fantasy tropes in an interesting way.
  • I liked several of the side characters, including Ivy’s sister Tabitha, the school nurse Mrs. Webb, and the practical magic teacher Rahul. I rather wished the book had been told from Tabitha’s POV, in fact.

As such, I would certainly be interested in reading some of Sarah Gailey’s other novels.

 

It is also worth noting, Magic for Liars has a pretty high Goodreads score, so a lot of people were able to connect with the story and the main character. If you aren’t sure where you stand after reading this review (which is fair, the ambivalence vibes are strong), I would suggest that you try the first three or four chapters, and see how you feel about the rest from there.

 

For my part, if you want to read a fantasy/mystery story featuring a compelling female protagonist who is determined to solve a mysterious murder, I would recommend Olivia Atwater’s Longshadow.

Title page of Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This time was going to be different. This time was going to be better. This time, I was going to be enough.

Sarah Gailey

Cover page for Madeline Miller's Circe

Hailey and I fully intended to do a buddy read and review for Madeline Miller’s Circe. Unfortunately, we hated it. After a long and cathartic ranting session, neither of us felt much like getting into it all over again in a written format. Well, it’s been some time since then, and I am ready to discuss this book in a calm and rational manner. Mostly.

 

Content Warning: this review discusses violence against women and sexual assault. We have to address these topics, as they are present within the book.

 

Circe is an amalgamation and retelling of the Greek myths around the mysterious witch-nymph Circe, famously prominent in Homer’s Odyssey. Miller follows Circe’s life from her early childhood to the end of her days, as she encounters heroes, fights monsters, and comes into her magical powers as a witch whom even the other gods fear.

 

I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open.

– Madeline Miller

Dear readers, she was exactly that dull.

 

 

Safiyya: This month, Hailey and I read Mary Hoffman’s Stravaganza: City of Masks, a childrens’s lit/YA novel filled with fantasy adventure, parallel worlds, and political intrigue.

 

The city-state of Bellezza lives peacefully under the reign of the Duchess Silvia, and her magician-advisor Rodolfo intends to keep it that way. But when a young boy named Lucien travels through space and time from the 21st century England into Bellezza, he inadvertently sets off a series of events that count change the future of Bellezza. Meanwhile, Lucien discovers a strange notebook, and to his amazement, it carries him to a whole different parallel world, where Italy is Talia, Venice is Bellezza, gold tarnishes and silver is prized, and magic is in the air. He befriends a Talian girl named Ariana, falls under the mentorship of Rodolfo, and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

 

I really enjoyed City of Masks, and I’m curious to see where the rest of the Stravaganza series goes. I loved following all the parallels between the two worlds — de Medici becomes di Chimici, etc. — and I loved all of the elaborate political intrigues. Fantasy and historical fiction are individually book-catnip for me. As such, the combined genres in this book were tremendously fun.

 

Mary Hoffman’s world-building, writing style, and characters were all incredibly compelling. In particular, I was impressed with the complexity and agency of the adult characters. Many authors of children’s literature or YA novels have a tendency to focus entirely on their young protagonists, relegating adults to two-dimensional stereotypes or inactive background décor. By contrast, Silvia and Rodolfo are fascinating, active, and awesome characters, propelling much of the plot with their endless machinations. I also really liked Lucien as a protagonist. He was warm-hearted and curious, quick-witted and compassionate. It’s very easy for the audience-proxy character to become a very boring means of exposition, but Lucien remains compelling throughout the novel.

 

Pretty much the only major issue I had with this book is the character of Ariana. When she is first introduced, I absolutely loved her. She was ambitious! She was clever! She was a rule-breaker! She saved Lucien’s life before she even knew his name! Unfortunately, the character peters out to a two-dimensional damsel in distress from then on. I kept waiting for Ariana to take charge and demonstrate her agency again, only for her to burst into tears and wait around for a rescue, or forgive Lucien for some trifling annoyance without even telling him about her concerns. It was an annoying and jarring note in a book filled with fascinating women — the duchess Silvia, the lace-making grandmother, Lucien’s mother, the decoy girl Giuliana. When even the midwife who appears for a single scene is more interesting than one of the book’s lead characters, that’s a problem. On the other hand, Duchess Silvia more than makes up for it. She is deliciously devious, brilliant, witty, charismatic, and altogether wonderful.

 

I would encourage anyone to read this book, regardless of age. Although the book is aimed toward a 9-12 or YA market — and to be clear, I enjoy reading 9-12 or YA books as well — it is a fun adventure that any reader could enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some time ago, a traveller came from your world to mine. It was hundreds of years ago in your time, though not in mine. He was the first to discover the secret, the first member of the brotherhood I belong to. He was the first Stravagante.

Mary Hoffman

 

 

An Indigenous Canadian boy with a streak of white paint on his cheek against a dark blue background

Safiyya: In July, Hailey and I read Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves, a dark, dystopian novel about a Canada which we are chillingly close to seeing in real life.

 

Content Warning: this review discusses the Indian residential schools, sexual violence, child abuse, and institutional racism.

 

The Marrow Thieves is set in Canada, about a hundred years in the future. Earth has been ravaged by diseases, earthquakes, rising sea levels, and wars for scarce resources. People have been experiencing a strange illness which affects their ability to dream, and eventually drives them to madness. Yet for some reason, this disease does not seem to affect people of Indigenous descent. As such, government officials in white vans have been taking Indigenous people away to “schools” and subjecting them to unspecified horrors, alleging it is for the good of humankind.

 

Frenchie, aka Francis, a sixteen-year-old boy of Métis descent, is on the run from government Recruiters in this rundown version of Ontario. Alone after his brother Mitch sacrificed himself, Frenchie joins a ragtag group of survivors making their way north, including:

  • Miig, an older man and one of the group elders
  • Minerva, another senior member, a gentle and sweet-natured elderly lady
  • Chi-Boy, a seventeen-year-old boy
  • Tree and Zheegwon, twelve-year-old twin boys 
  • Slopper, a nine-year-old boy
  • Wab, an eighteen-year-old girl
  • Riri, a little girl somewhere between five and seven
  • Rose, a sixteen-year-old girl and the group’s newest addition

Together, these people create a foster family: protecting each other, passing on skills and knowledge, sharing stories, and holding true to their cultural heritage. Frenchie and his companions hope to escape the government’s reach in the far north, but they will first have to survive the wilderness, the government’s vicious Recruiters, their own past horrors, and betrayal.

 

Sometimes you risk everything for a life worth living, even if you’re not the one that’ll be alive to see it.

– Cherie Dimaline

 

As you might imagine, this book hit me like a gut punch. In our real world, we are dealing with cataclysmic effects of climate change, a widespread, mysterious disease that took out a huge portion of the global population, and the exposure of mass graves at the sites of former Indian residential schools. The Marrow Thieves was written in 2018, pre-pandemic, but it could not have been more prescient.

 

In our discussion of this book, Hailey pointed out that this book defies categorization. The story follows a teenage boy, but it does not follow the conventions of the YA category. It is a dystopia, but it draws on real, historical events as its background. It is incredibly accessible, a book that could be read by anyone of any age group or background, but it is also rich with symbolic meaning and layers of fascinating detail that could be analyzed for days.

 

I’m currently in the midst of an online class on Indigenous Canada, and I think that made a huge difference as far as being able to pick up on some of the deeper meanings and references that Dimaline wove into her story. For instance, here are some of the things that struck me on my first read-through:

 

  1. Oral Traditions: Dimaline very deliberately places a higher value on oral evidence over written words. For some context, certain Indigenous nations within Canada have a deep-rooted tradition of oral history and storytelling. This became a real challenge when various Indigenous peoples tried to establish their legal rights in court, because a hearsay story passed down through generations was considered less credible than a written document dating back several centuries. (Check out the Delgamuukw decision here and here for more information on that front.) But Dimaline flips the script in her novel. Oral narration is given a primacy and value through traditions like Story, whereas written words prove to be unreliable.
  2. The Role of Elders: Dimaline has no interest in restraining herself with YA conventions. The adult characters are as significant to the story as the teenagers, having just as much agency, value, and (without getting too spoilery) playing as central a role in the major plot events. Just as importantly, the teenage characters respect and admire their little group’s elders, valuing the well of knowledge and experience that they can provide.
  3. Real Traumas: Dimaline incorporates several past and current traumas faced by Indigenous people into her fictional world’s horrors. Residential schools, mass graves of children, resources stolen and stripped from Indigenous peoples, over-criminalization, gendered violence – each of these issues is reproduced within the world of the book. You cannot visit this world and then step back into our own, having had a nice feeling of escape; not when our own world has all the same horrors.

 

I could go on and on about The Marrow Thieves, but I will leave off with three more things for now. First, I alternated between reading a text version of the book and listening to the audiobook version. The latter experience was a fantastic way to really immerse myself into the oral storytelling tradition woven into the fabric of the story, so I would recommend that format for readers who’d enjoy that kind of experience. Second, Cherie Dimaline is releasing a sequel to the book later this year. If you are worried about starting an as-yet-incomplete series, in my opinion, the first book stands on its own well enough to satisfy the reader.

 

Finally, and this is a very important factor to consider — it was very difficult to read this book. In fact, there were a few times where I had to stop and set it aside before I could continue. Some people may find it too disturbing to read through The Marrow Thieves, and that is okay; you have to take care of your own mental health and comfort level. However, if you can handle it, you will find a brilliant, rewarding, rich text about family, and society, and the everyday dystopias that we do not question enough.

 

 

PS: As a disclaimer, neither of us are experts on Indigenous literature or on the Indigenous cultures of Canada. If you want a list of recommended Indigenous literature by more informed people, you can try here, or here , or here. I also highly recommend the American Indians in Children’s Literature blog, established by Dr. Debbie Reese, which provides detailed discussions on the representation of Indigenous peoples in children’s literature; you can find it here.

 

If you want to learn a bit about some of the Indigenous cultures and history of Canada, there is a free course online through the University of Alberta, which you can check out here . You can also see the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s reports on the residential schools and some of the horrors faced by Indigenous peoples in Canada here.

 

 

I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Alex Michaelides’ writing, so I knew I had to read The Maidens. It did not disappoint! This was such a gripping thriller and I loved the inclusion of themes from Greek tragedy and mythology.

Mariana is awash with grief after the sudden death of her husband Sebastian. Struggling just to make it through the days, Mariana’s cocoon of solitude and loss is disrupted when she receives a frantic call from her niece Zoe at Oxford. Zoe’s friend Tara has gone missing and she fears for the worst. When Tara’s body is discovered, brutally murdered, Mariana quickly becomes embroiled in a sweeping conspiracy involving enigmatic professor Edward Fosca and his unnerving group of acolytes, known as the “Maidens”.

Filled with loads of twists, red herrings and astonishing revelations, The Maidens was a wonderfully written tale of love, loss and betrayal. The ending was absolutely astounding – I’m honestly still reeling and trying to wrap my head around it. If you want to be shocked and awed, this is the book for you!

 ‘It was written’ is the Greek expression. Meaning, quite simply, from that moment on, their destinies were sealed. 

– Alex Michaelides

On a whim I decided to take a chance on the audiobook, however, I now wish that I had chosen a print copy instead. As much as I admire Louise Brealey as an actress, (her voice-work was objectively excellent), I just don’t feel like audiobooks are the right format for me. I enjoy ambient noise and regularly go about my day with headphones in, but I tend to tune out the specifics of the music/sounds etc. and I simply could not break that habit when listening to an audiobook. I would actively try to listen but soon enough I’d filter out the words and end up having to rewind entire chapters. I also missed the actual act of reading a book and seeing the words set down on paper (or screen in the case of ebooks). I’m sure that people who regularly enjoy audiobooks will love this recording, I just think I’ll try to stick to print in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for providing a copy of this audiobook for review. It was certainly a wild ride!

– Hailey

 

Wendy Darling’s life was irrevocably altered when she and her two brothers were swept out of their bedroom window and spirited off to an island of pure fantasy. When they returned home to London, John and Michael were able to move on with their lives, but Wendy could not forget Neverland nor the impossible boy that brought her there. Refusing to deny Peter and Neverland has fractured Wendy’s relationships with her family and even resulted in her institutionalization in an asylum.

Many years later, Wendy is married with a daughter of her own and trying to finally put the past behind her. Until one fateful night when a boy who does not age, a boy with no shadow, slips through her daughters bedroom and carries Jane off to Neverland in Wendy’s place. Now Wendy must confront the unsettling truths about her past, in order to save her family and her future.

Wendy, Darling was exactly what I hope for when reading a fairytale retelling. I’ve always thought there was something sinister lurking behind the shiny veneer of Neverland and Peter Pan and A.C. Wise exploits that ominous undertone in dark and delicious ways. Decay, death and eldritch horrors replace mermaids, magic and childhood naiveté.

The book had a wonderful cast of strong and empowered female characters as well as queer and aro/ace rep (we don’t see a lot of this so it was very exciting!) I was also really impressed by the way that the author addressed trauma and trauma recovery in a very raw and realistic manner.

Thank you to NetGalley and Titan Books for providing a copy of this book for review. It was an incredible read that I highly recommend!

– Hailey

 

 

 

You have to stand up, even when you’re scared, because if you let the monsters frighten you and take away the things you love, then they win.

A.C. Wise

 

The Space Between Two Deaths had a fascinating premise, very little modern literature focuses on Sumerian culture, religion and mythology. I thought that the story started off very strong with the sack of Uruk by the army of Nippur which throws off the balance between the land of the living and the netherworld. As a result of this imbalance a rift opens up in the earth leading down into the netherworld. Here is where I felt the author missed an opportunity – though the rift did play a role in the lives of the main characters, the larger implications of the rift on Sumerian society was ignored, it was as if no one else was affected by this supernatural event. It had seemed as though the author had set the scene for the dead to rise and overwhelm the living, for mythological creatures or deities to assert their influence, but none of this occurred.

The rest of the novel was, in essence, a family drama. Though some aspects were interesting, I personally found all the main characters to be rather unlikeable and as such I felt it difficult to become emotionally invested in the tale. Temen, Meshara and Ziz were all callous and self-interested without a sense of care or concern for the other members of their family. Temen was violently abusive and lacking in work ethic, Meshara was deeply resentful and happy to abdicate any sense of maternal duty, and Ziz thrilled in carrying out theft and violence with little sense of consequence. Themes of physical and sexual abuse, child marriage, slavery, mutilation and even cannibalism seemed to be casually thrown into the book without much commentary or critique.

I think my favourite parts of the book were the chapters narrated by the crow, who was the least problematic and most interesting character. I did really enjoy the ending, (at least for Ziz and the crow). Overall the book beginning and ending of the book are very strong, its just the muddle in the middle that I’m not sold on.

Thank you to NetGalley and GenZ Publishing for providing a e-copy of this book for review. 

– Hailey

 

 

So much had gone unsaid between them – to tease out one thread risked unraveling the entire tapestry.  Perhaps a story was for the best, one in which the outcome was predetermined.

Jamie Yourdon

 

Objectively, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is a great book. I really wanted to love it, but personally, I had a very difficult time getting past the writing style. I truly did not like the “interview” style narration of the story. I don’t mind multiple narrators, I often like that style of writing, but something about the transcript format of Opal & Nev kept taking me out of the story – I found it distracting and hard to engage in the story.

As a reader I was already at a disadvantage as I know next to nothing about three of the main themes of the book – the music industry, the 1970s, and life in the United States; there was no personal connection that would have made it easier for me to relate to the story at hand, so when that was compounded by a narration style that I really did not care for, the entire reading experience was rather lacklustre. There also seemed to be a lot of references to the American music scene and politics in the 70s which were totally lost on me.

I did really like Opal and Sunny, both strong women in their own right, forced to confront racism, sexism and character assassination. It was fascinating to compare the two characters, the similarities and differences in the way they approached their lives, careers and society at large.

I think many people will really love this book, the actual story is very good and themes are incredibly relevant to current events. The style simply wasn’t a fit for me, something that’s bound to happen from time to time when reading.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for providing an e-copy of this book for review.

– Hailey

 

 

How did I not just let life run me over? I’m sorry, I don’t usually use this word, but it’s because fuck that. I believe in myself above all.

Dawnie Walton

 

Cover of Skyward Inn, by Aliya Whiteley

Skyward Inn was certainly unique. I took a few days after I finished reading this book to collect my thoughts and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel. Aliya Whiteley succeeded at creating an engaging novel that captivates the reader. I was thoroughly invested in the story and I didn’t want to put the book down, however, I’m not sure if that’s a credit to the actual writing or simply an indication of how confused I was and much I wanted answers.

We burn history down, over and over, as an act of remembrance. When there are no answers, there is recollection, and repetition.

– Aliya Whiteley

I was a bit irked by the alternating points-of-view (Jem’s was first person, yet Fosse’s was third person) and I thought that some unnecessary elements were added simply to unsettle the reader, when the surrealist nature of the book would have been sufficiently unsettling on it’s own. I really could have done without Fosse’s masturbatory scenes at the farm and the rather distasteful revelation about “brew” and bodily fluids. There was also a sudden and unexplained timeline shift toward the end of the book that didn’t feel all that effective as a plot device.

Initially, the book seemed to be a commentary about colonialism and the exploitation of indigenous peoples, their land and their resources. When the “Kissing Gates” appear on Earth, humans immediately seize the opportunity to mount a military incursion on the planet of Qita. They then take advantage of the Qitan’s peaceful nature in order to appropriate the planet’s resources and bring them back to Earth. Ultimately, it is revealed that the Qitan’s aren’t quite as docile as they appear, and that maybe it isn’t the humans who are the colonizers. So perhaps the story is actually a critique of human arrogance. Either way, it was a stunning twist that I very much was not expecting.  The author also makes a powerful statement about the nature of assimilation and how little choice people are often given in the matter.

Most of the story is set in the Western Protectorate, which seceded from the UK and rejected all modern technology following the appearance of the Kissing Gates. I thought that the Western Protectorate beautifully encapsulated the concept of hiraeth, a Welsh word with no true English equivalent that can be translated as a “longing for a home that no longer exists or never was”. Many characters in the book have an idealized, nostalgic view of the Protectorate that they try to cling to even if change is inevitable. I think that in our rapidly changing world, where technology seems to take precedence, the desire for simpler times will resonate with a lot of readers.

At then end of the day, I do think that Skyward Inn is a worthwhile read. Stylistically, it’s quite different from other books on the market and the content will challenge the reader’s perceptions and leave them thinking long after they finish reading.

Thank you to NetGalley and Solaris Books for providing this ARC.

– Hailey