This Week’s Reads

Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon
Secondary World Fantasy, Finished
Doctor Adoulla is tired, but a powerful threat faces his city and as the last ghul hunter, he must lead his friends against the greatest threat he’s ever known.

The pacing and gripping action that began to emerge in the middle of the book provided a thoroughly satisfying climax. It had a grand scope and it tied all the characters and their conflicting interests together, forcing them to chose whether to go against their morals or fight. Saladin also did a very good job of making sure every character had a reason to be in the climax. None of them were damsels in distress or suddenly forgot how to use their talents effectively. The ending was a little more bittersweet than I expected, which I think works considering the tone of the book. The characters’ interests ultimately didn’t all align, so not everyone got exactly what they wanted. I like this because often conclusions feel too simple and happy because suddenly everyone wants the same thing and therefore everything is perfect. But here, even though Adoulla loves his friends and his friends love him, there are other things that are more important. So while not the most uplifting ending, it was certainly one I could get behind. The last paragraph also did a great job of acknowledging both Adoulla’s happiness at his success and also how emotionally draining the whole experience has been.

Sunil Khilnani’s Incarnations: A History of India in Fifty Lives
Non-fiction, Not completing
Incarnations explores Indian history through brief biographies of fifty of its most famous citizens. I love the concept of this book and Sunil does a great job tying each of the fifty lives back into modern Indian society. Looking at some of the more influential actions of some of the most influential people in a country’s history is a great way to explore how a society ebbs and flows. Unfortunately the style is very dry, to the point where I wasn’t that far in when I started skimming. The stories at the beginning of each chapter are entertaining, but the rest just didn’t hold my interest. So if the concept is enough for you, I would say check it out, but I don’t think I’ll be finishing this one.

Short story of the week: Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Shard of Glass
Urban Fantasy, Finished
Read part 1 here and part 2 here.
Leah doesn’t know what to think when her mother says they’re going on a long trip and not coming back. Soon she’s on the run, her most precious possession a shard of glass that shows her things that aren’t there.

That description makes this story sound much more action-packed then it is. Really this is a story about a daughter and mother who live as outsiders, never able to settle comfortably in a place or feel quite like they fit in. Even when they begin to blend into society, they have to flee again to avoid capture. The story’s also about the pain of memory and how it continues to haunt the characters on their long trek across the world, both emotionally and physically. The writing in this story is really lovely and the details, especially in that killer first paragraph, keep the story well grounded. I was especially impressed at the amount of detail given to every single country they visited, from Japan to Germany to Nepal. And by the end of the story, we’ve watched Leah grow into a strong and determined woman who knows how to control the people she once feared.

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