We made it through January 2021, the longest month in a while. I managed to read 18 different things, and thus, I am switching up the format of these recaps. I’m going to show a grid of each work by category with links to the reviews to read at your own leisure. Feedback appreciated.
This month’s author interview was with S.T. Gibson, to celebrate the release of her Dracula’s brides retelling, A Dowry of Blood.
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Year Release: 2020 Source: Libro.fm
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Listened to the audiobook Content warnings: abortion, animal death, attempted sexual assault (author’s note), vomiting
I took Elana K. Arnold’s Revision Season course last fall, so before getting into the book itself, I felt like I had an insider knowledge of its revision cycle. I got my ears into the audiobook and dove right in.
This work follows Nina Faye as she navigates her teenage years with the social pressures as they relate to autonomy and sexuality. Her mother tells her that there is no such thing as unconditional love, and Arnold explores the different modes of love during key moments of Nina’s life. It feels like the contemporary precursor to Damsel, so if you enjoyed the brutally honest way it explored its topics through fairy tale, you will enjoy this.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2020
Source: Edelweiss ARC
Read an ARC acquired via Edelweiss
Trigger warnings: gore, murder, sexual assault (off-page, but heavily implied)
I devoured Damsel—Arnold’s other take on classic tales—last winter break. The way the story examined common tropes of princess narratives blew my mind, so naturally, I couldn’t wait for Arnold’s next work. Red Hood uses Little Red Riding Hood as a vehicle for a tale examining feminine power, menstruation, and how to survive in a world that protects awful men.
Though mostly downplayed, I really liked the fantasy elements in this. The villains in this book are men who have the inexplicable ability to turn into wolves. Bisou, our main character whose introspection and journey we follow through a second-person narrative, magically has the ability to sense when these men are afoot, and when wolves attack. I wish this element had been more explored from a world-building standpoint, but it very much fit what Arnold seemed to be doing with the narrative.
I especially admired how Bisou and her friends gain more agency as the story progresses, turning into a coven alongside Mémé, Bisou’s grandmother and parental figure. The atmosphere here is also exquisite. Arnold works magic when it comes to melding contemporary and real-life fears with the terrors of the fantastic. The mysterious wolf attacks are horrifying, but so is the awfulness that is being a girl in high school.
A must-read for fans of more literary prose and loose but terrifying takes on classic fairy tales.
In December, I made it a small goal to get my Currently Reading List down to zero. While I failed at that, I got most of the way there, even reading two additional books. I start 2020 with a four-book-long backlog, which honestly, it pretty good. Anyway, here is the last recap of the year. Continue reading →