The Angel of Khan el-Khalili by P. Djèlí Clark

The Angel of Khan el-Khalili by P. Djèlí Clark

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love the intersection of steampunk and the workers’ right movement, the transition from one era of the world to another as shown by a moment in the life of one desperate young woman, the liminal space of the angel’s den that allows her to reconcile with the burden and consequences of her own choices. Excellent addition to Clark’s alternate magical Cairo.

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My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley for a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for a review.

Paranoid and claustrophobic, but in Jones’s compulsively readable style, making for a read both difficult and enjoyable, as horror should be.

Poor Jade just can’t catch a break. Even her moments of triumph set her up for further hardship and misunderstanding. She’s a great character, though. She fights hard for her agency in a town full of people that do nothing but squash it, some with ill intent, others with good intentions, but both insistent on ignoring not only her observations about a rapidly unraveling situation, but the most basic of requests to use her preferred name. I rooted for her even as I wanted to cover my face with my hands and look away, yell at her to let it go and look out for herself.

Excellent for fans (or folks who want to become fans) of the slasher genre. Made me realize that what I liked most about Jone’s other novel I recently read, The Only Good Indians, wasn’t the slasher nods but the ghost/spirit stalking. This book didn’t check as many of my boxes, but Jones absolutely nails the ending. Weeks later and I’m still thinking about those final lines.

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The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke

The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for a review.

I didn’t like this one. Too many ideas thrown in the story blender, not enough of any one of them to create something great. Too much changeling panic. Too much purple prose and telling, not showing. Not enough atmosphere. Definitely not enough witches. Too many clueless women running around reacting to bad things happening to them instead of having agency and making real decisions, and this largely seemed to be so that they could each slowly find out a piece of the puzzle so the reader didn’t get information too quickly. Most of the critical information came from a man’s diary instead of the women actually being smart and figuring things out. The jacket copy sounded so promising. What a disappointment.

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Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The more I think about this book, the more I love it. Came for the ghosts, gods, and family drama, was very excited for the surprise GANGSTERS. All the elements (characters, plot, surprises) are very well balanced. The story moves at a good clip that feels urgent without tossing all the character and family development aside to be a straight thriller.

I enjoyed this so much, I struggled to write a review because I couldn’t identify any single thing that made this book stand out. All of it was so good, and all of it worked so well together.

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St. Valentine, St. Abigail, St. Brigid, by C.L. Polk

St. Valentine, St. Abigail, St. Brigid by C.L. Polk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Listened to the Levar Burton Reads podcast of this story, and his reading is fantastic. I really appreciate that he highlighted Teresa’s inner landscape of acknowledging, receiving, and giving love. There are a lot of things going on this story, and that wouldn’t necessarily have been the element that stood out to me the most, but it is at the heart of the character, and drives the story above all other aspects.

This story has so many things I love – witching, witching with bees, birdcage elevators, women being strong in different ways, academic competitive friendships, and horrible people getting what they deserve.

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