Seven by Farzana Doctor
A very very sad and heartbreaking account of a Bohra family that practices Female Genital Mutilation even in this age and day. Our protagonist is a married woman who has a daughter herself. She visits her family back in India after a long time. During that visit, she recovers a suppressed memory that is horrific. The worst part of all that goes on is the level of betrayal that the female children feel when it’s the women who have raised them who are responsible for the tragedy.
I really liked the patient unspooling of the mystery as the protagonist rediscovers the family secret. The ending is bittersweet because it makes you hopeful about the future while also relating the immense amount of trauma that’s already happened.
The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison
Okay, so I really loved this book. A very shadowy London in the 1880s that’s different from the city we know in one main way: it has angels crawling over it. Some fall and become evil while others are like guardian angels for the buildings. We follow an angel who is neither and both — think Holmes but with wings, which is also how the author said this story came into being, i.e., as wingfic. The angel meets the other protagonist in just the way Holmes met Watson — but this character is named Doyle after the author, instead of Watson. Together, they discover much about each other as they solve cases.
I didn’t mind that the author put a supernatural spin on Holmes’s classic cases. But I would have liked more backstory about why this version of London was the way it was. I mean, why angels? And there were shifters too, so why them? Aside from that, I found this to be an entertaining and interesting read.
Sharks of the Wasteland by Gwendolyn N. Nix
The setting is post-apocalyptic — one of my favorites. Our protags are two very different people. One of them has escaped from a facility while the other is nomadic and free. The unlikely duo pair up at the beginning of the book. That was all good.
But the unethical experiments on people, the contagious viruses, betrayals, and the violence — that’s all been done before. The only thing that was unique was that the lead couple were gay. Maybe this story would have worked better if told in the format of a graphic novel?
Shadow in the Empire of Light by Jane Routley
Another book that I liked a lot but for one thing: there’s no explanation about why the world is the way it is. It felt as if I’d picked up the second book in an ongoing series.
There’s magic and aristocracy — the two are connected, so if you have magic, you have money. And there are rites and rituals that the aristocrats use to keep the others in line. They fight each other to gain more power and those squabbles are often fatal.
Amongst all that glitz and glamor is born our protagonist who doesn’t have magic. Her family barely tolerates her presence while she yearns to travel. All that I understood but then she meets someone from another country who is so alien that she calls him ghost. The family has no issues with homosexuality, but they disowned a gay character because he fell for a man not befitting their status. There’s also a lot of incest and rape going on.
In short, while I liked the book, I needed to know more about the world it’s set in. Maybe a sequel?