And welcome to another week of Monday Minis! This one is called Fab tries to catch up to NetGalley…
The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky is a Tor.com Publishing novella about a woman with perfect memory setting out to be a God-King’s Amanuensis. To become the God-King’s Amanuensis, Manet had to master all seven perfections, developing her body and mind to the peak of human performance. She remembers everything that has happened to her, in absolute clarity, a gift that will surely drive her mad. But before she goes, Manet must unravel a secret which threatens not only the carefully prepared myths of the God-King’s ascent, but her own identity and the nature of truth itself. However, it was written in a very experimental form, closer to highbrow literary fiction than what readers of speculative genre fiction are more used to. I struggled to connect with the story, especially due to its fragmented, second-person narrative, and so this ended up really not being a book for me. I have been realising more and more that, with a few exceptions, I am really more of a straight-forward narrative type if I get the choice. I prefer stories that are experimental in content rather than form, if that makes sense. But I can totally see how this would be brilliant for readers who appreciate authors playing with form, and who are more avant-garde than I am.
The Star Host by F.T. Lukens has been on my TBR for far too long (I’m so sorry!). This is a sci-fi adventure in which young Ren discovers that he has technopath powers – which he’d not even known were a possibility. Because of this, he ends up a prisoner, as he is deemed too dangerous to be left free. Desperate to escape confinement and avoid being used, he bonds with his cell-neighbour Asher, and they hatch an escape plan, making the second half of the book a traditional sci-fi romp through space. It is a fun read, compelling and I loved the tender slow-burn relationship between Ren and Asher. But it also doesn’t really do anything new, and I felt like I’ve read this before. Thus, it ended up not really standing out for me, even though I enjoyed my reading experience.
Last, but not least, Witherward by Hannah Mathewson (this was by far my favourite out of this batch). This is a YA/crossover portal fantasy set in London – which I loved because I’ve been to many of the places mentioned. Ilsa, seventeen, is a foundling with shapeshifting powers, making a living as a pickpocket when she finds out about a whole other London, the family that abandoned her and much more. This is a really intriguing debut, well-written with interesting characters. I didn’t quite fall in love with it – I’d rate it a solid 3.5 stars – but it’s certainly a book to look out for, and an author to watch. I am curious where the story will take this next, and this is the kind of book that can scratch your itch for a comfortable, escapist fantasy read.