This week it appears I reached my fill of misogynistic societies. I don’t mean in the real world (although I’ve definitely had enough of misogyny there, too), but in fictional worlds.
I’ve read several fae books lately (CN Crawford, I’m looking at you) and whilst the stories have been fabulous and enormously entertaining, I’ve been put off by the unredeemed sexism of fae society. In all the fae books I’ve picked up recently, when our heroine goes from earth into the fae realm she takes a step back several hundred years in terms of womens’ rights. Women become possessions, or mates to be trapped, and status is everything. In the stories I’ve read, the heroine always has a high-status male to protect her from the worst of his society, but that’s kinda not the point. Women don’t generally require protection, and in the twenty-first century they certainly shouldn’t need it.
Again, I’m left wondering whether I’m closing my eyes to unpleasant things and think it’s realistic to live in a land of rainbows and unicorns. (There’s nothing to stop me doing that in fiction if I choose; what I read is entirely my choice). However, I really don’t think so. My view is that I know unpleasant things happen in the world. If I wanted to see them in fiction, too, I’d still be bingeing on crime thrillers like I did in my teens.
I don’t want to be reminded how awful the world can be. I want to know the heights humans can reach, not the depths. In my opinion, what the real world needs from fiction more than a mirror of how bad people can be, is a refreshing picture of positive ways for people to get along.
What I’m looking for now is fictional worlds where men and women from all backgrounds get on as a matter of course, working together to deal with whatever the bigger picture problem is in their world without the spectre of sexual violence.
I’ve just tried to think of some “for instances” and come up short. Any recommendations?
Well, this week was another gorgeous reading week. I went straight from Sea and Sand to another new release, The Reprisal, by Kelly St Clare. This is the finale in her The After trilogy, and I’ve been waiting impatiently since I inhaled The Return the day it came out. It’s an utter delight. The relationships between Romy and her knot moved forward in fabulous ways, there was lots of humour, and the uncertain fate of those on earth and the space soldiers was resolved highly satisfactorily. Loved it.
And then I found a new series. I’d seen mention of Sarah K Wilson’s Dragon School on social media and thought it looked good. The premise is that a disabled teenager is determined to take on the highly physical role of a dragon rider – will she manage? It’s also fantasy with (you may have guessed) dragons, so there’s lots to love for fantasy readers.
The books themselves are being presented slightly differently. Instead of novels, they’re novellas, but as a result of their shortness they’re being released more closely together. I’m finding myself growing more and more fond of novellas as I grow older. I daresay it’s just a perception, but it makes me feel as though I’m getting more new worlds in my life. Another positive is that most of them are available in KU, so I feel like I’m working my subscription hard by reading three books where I might only have managed one before!
The first three stories in the Dragon School series are available now (First Flight, Initiate and The Dark Prince), and I loved them. They’re very episodic, so you could think of TV just as easily as books. Amel is a great character (as is Raolcan the dragon), there’s stacks going on in the background so they rattle along at a terrific pace, and the writing is actually very visual so I found it easy to “see” what was going on. I want to read the rest, and I’m delighted to report I don’t have months to wait for the next episode, since it’ll be out at the start of February.
And then just last night (when I’d run out of Dragon School stories) I discovered that there is a book 4 in CN Crawford’s Fae FBI series. I kind of thought there must be another one coming, because book 3 left so many threads unresolved, but last time I looked on Amazon there was no sign. But it’s out now, so that’s what I’ll be jumping into once I’ve written this blog post. Can’t wait!
Well, I have been a reading machine this week with three books comfortably under my belt and a fourth nearly done!
First up was Rhoda Baxter’s Girl in Trouble. I know Rhoda IRL, and I absolutely love it when I’m properly able to rave about a friend’s book. Girl in Trouble isn’t my usual genre, but I have no problem reading something different if it’s good – and Girl in Trouble is an absolute smasher, a convincing romance with real emotional depth. I zipped through the novel in the space of 8 hours, it’s that good!
After that, I went back to my young adult TBR pile. CJ Archer’s The Medium caught my eye when it was in some promotion newsletter a while back, and it turned out to be a fabulous find. Set in Victorian-era London it’s slightly steampunk, largely supernatural and an utter delight.
Then a friend recommended Donna Augustine’s A Step into the Dark. This was a lesson in why you should give a book more than two paragraphs of a chance. If I’d just stumbled across it I know I’d have tossed it aside (metaphorically; it’s not really wise to throw your Kindle around). But because someone whose opinion I value (I’m looking at you, Kelly St Clare) said it was worth reading I gave it a bit longer, and I was pleased I did. More supernatural shenanigans abounded and Ollie, our heroine, was an absolute delight. I’m definitely going to read more of her adventures.
I am aware that none of this week’s reads feature in Shattered Worlds. I have strayed from my challenge, readers, I’m sorry to say. I wish I could tell you I’m most of the way through a Shattered Worlds book right now, but I’m not (I’m closing in on the end of the also-excellent Infernal Magic by CN Crawford – clearly I’m having a supernatural splurge this week). But I promise, once that’s done, I will get back on the straight and narrow next week, come what may!