This Week’s Reads

Anna-Marie McLemore’s When the Moon was Ours
Contemporary(ish) Fantasy, Finished
As the secrets build up and Miel and Sam struggle to define where their relationship stands, the Bonner sisters find themselves losing their own power over the town. In an attempt to regain that power, they tell Miel she must give the roses that grow out of her wrist to them or they’ll reveal everything she’s trying to keep hidden.

This book was so good. Seriously, stop reading this and go read When the Moon was Ours. I mentioned last week that I loved how secrets were handled in the book. I love even more how every single out of those secrets are important to the characters and how they relate to themselves. It is all about people hiding who they are and suffering for it. It’s about finding that thing that is yours, which no one else can have, and owning it, even if other people disprove. At no point does the story pretend that’s easy, but it was so amazing watching all these characters struggle through who they are – hurting each other and themselves along the way – before they realize how to be comfortable with their own identities. I love that so, so much.

And on top of that the details are ridiculously amazing. There are three major images in the book: pumpkins, the moon, and the Bonner girls’ hair. These are described over and over again and they are lush and wonderful every single time. I had no idea the spots on the moon had names and they’re absolutely beautiful. I also didn’t know there were so many types and beautiful colors of pumpkins. The descriptions create such a fantastic, crisp world with beautiful sweeping colors that are light and thick and viscous.

Also she has a book called Wild Beauty coming out and I can’t wait to read it.

Short story of the week: Lavie Tidhar’s The Red Flower
Secondary World Fantasy, Finished
Read it here.
This is a weird little piece of fiction and I think it went over my head. It’s about the Stranger traveling through a world filled with clowns (who may or may not be evil and deserving of scalping) and symbol storms that melt ears and turn your knees into jars of bees and sink clocks into your belly. (Also this is very Catherynne Valente’s Palimpsest.) I guess a lot of the story for me was trying to decide if the Stranger was chasing the scalpers because he agreed or disagreed with their decision to scalp the clowns. If you wanted to pull this out into the real world, I would say it’s an interesting commentary on a thing that people have all decided are terrifying, for reasons I’ve never fully understood. The clowns are ultimately a very small part of the story so we don’t get a sense of who they actually are. And even though the Stranger is rather upset at these men for scalping the clowns, he expresses some similar fears about clowns. So we aren’t exactly provided with clear-cut answers on the issue either.

Also, the main character has no name. He is literally unknown, the Stranger, and we get very little about him. Stories are about knowing people, about seeing their interiority and empathizing, so we’re sort of thrown out of the story when it’s told from a stranger’s perspective because you can’t know a stranger. They’re no longer a stranger once you get to know them. But it’s also appropriate because we still don’t know very much at the end of the story. This is a weird, strange land and we’re never really invited in. So I suppose it creates a sense of distance and unknowability, just as the clown issue is never fully explained.

Leave a Reply