Mr. Impossible (Dreamer Trilogy, #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Stiefvater delivers, as always. I love the ways these characters are growing, growing apart, changing, getting in their own ways, lying to themselves, trying on identities, and trying their best to look out for each other, as misguided as their efforts are. You can have more than one coming of age in your life, and I’m excited to see Stiefvater explore that idea through these characters and this story.



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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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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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Autumn Princess, Dragon Child (Tale of Shikanoko, #2) by Lian Hearn

Autumn Princess, Dragon Child by Lian Hearn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Spoilers ahead . . .

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Jokes on me! I skimmed the ending of book four to make sure Aki and Shika didn’t reconcile, and it looked safe to proceed, so I read volume two. In addition to being slower moving than volume one, I cared less and less about the characters as I went. Everyone was a scheming whiny asshole, and all the women kept getting screwed over, or reconciling with men who treated them badly. Before anyone pushes up their glasses and tries to say “well, actually” in my direction, I understand that the author is following traditional Japanese epics as a guide, and that everyone is probably meant to be a scheming, whiny asshole, but that doesn’t mean I have to want to read these books. This is not what I’m here for.

Aki had a rape baby, and then died at the end of the book. It was supposed to be a big heroic and sad sacrifice, and I might have appreciated it more if she hadn’t been raped, had a baby, and then considered reconciling with her rapist just before died. Also, the rape was unnecessary from a plot and character arc perspective, so . . . I’m done. I’m stopping here. This series will remain unfinished, and all four volumes are now in my giveaway pile.



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Emperor of the Eight Islands (Tale of Shikanoko, #1) by Lian Hearn

Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Really good stuff, right up until the end. Love the intrigue, the mysterious and unexplained magic, Japanese folk creatures, and interconnected characters and narratives. Every small win turns a corner into another disaster. As I read, I really started looking forward to the next three books, and how this twisty tale was going to unfold and resolve itself.

Now for the part that dropped my star rating from a four to a three. Spoilers ahead. CW: rape.



I am really upset about the rape-as-motivation for Aki to leave Shika and lose trust in him. I don’t care that he was magically manipulated/compelled by the Prince Abbott–Hearn has introduced the possibility that Aki is the woman Skika is meant to marry. I don’t like spoilers, but I actually flipped through the end of book four to make sure Shika and Aki didn’t reconcile and end up together because I am not here for rape apology, women marrying their rapists, rape as easy trauma, or rape as motivation. Writers can and should do better and be more creative. The Prince Abbot also magically manipulated/compelled Shika to attempt to kill Yoshi, which is motivation enough to make Aki feel unsafe and untrusting and leave him. Narratively, the rape is unnecessary.

I didn’t see any evidence that Aki and Shika reconcile by the end of the series. What I skimmed sounded as though they have been sundered forever and Shika regrets his assault on her for years to come. I’m hopeful that’s correct and I didn’t miss anything. If I encounter anything to the contrary as I continue reading, I’m DNF-ing this series.




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