- The Year of Silent Birds by Siobhan Carroll [Jump]
- 50 Ways to Leave Your Fairy Lover by Aimee Picchi [Jump]
- Five Functions of Your Bionosaur by Rachael K. Jones [Jump]
- Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse by S. B. Divya [Jump]
- Flow by Marissa Lingen [Jump]
- A Very Large Number of Moons by Kai Stewart [Jump]
- Graffiti Guardians by A. T. Greenblatt [Jump]
- The Outlaw Tree by Alex Singer and Mildred Louis [Jump]
1. The Year of Silent Birds by Siobhan Carroll [Top]
The Year of Silent Birds is actually one I found for myself, how's THAT for turn up for the books? It follows the raising of a young woman called Rehlite from her tomb, called back to help her noble family as their political games backfire on them. It's fascinating. The mix of magic and politics is really well done, and the slow unravelling of what past, present and future schemes have brought forth this moment is great. There's as much story spoken as unspoken, and if you've read any of my reviews at all, you'll know that this is catnip to me. The way she's written – as specifically and distinctly no longer human, albeit with clear memories of her own humanity and regrets – is really cool, and I deeply enjoyed it, especially because of the way she has to work out who everyone is and what has changed since she was alive. And the climax of the story was really well done – I think it felt a bit Tamora Pierce, but that could be because I read the Wild Speaker books too many times when I was a kid.
I thought The Year of Silent Birds was great, and I'm really looking forward to reading more stuff by Siobhan Carroll!
2. 50 Ways to Leave Your Fairy Lover by Aimee Picchi [Top]
I THINK this was a rec from forestofglory with bookgazing running back up, but I could be wrong! It's a cute little story framed as a letter from a grandmother to her granddaughter, talking from experience about how to break up with a fae (without taking advice from lists on the internet). I love that it has a queer grandma protagonist, the magic throughout, and the quests that Grandma Carol sent her fairy lover on, because I can truly believe that those are all impossible quests! It was just a really sweet and funny story, with lots of hope and affection in it even with the acknowledgement that breaking up is sometimes the right thing to do! If that's what you're in the mood for: definitely try 50 ways to leave your fairy lover.
3. Five Functions of Your Bionosaur by Rachael K. Jones [Top]
From sfbluestocking, just for a change! Five Functions of Your Bionosaur is a sweet little story about growing up with a bionic dinosaur. Honestly, it reads like a scifi update of the melancholy stories about people growing up with pets and their protective playmate growing old and faded but still beloved, which isn't necessarily bad! It has very cool imagery (I love the description of the bionosaur), and the practicalities of running a piece of tech for half a human lifetime (tech goes out of date VERY QUICKLY even when that's your robot dinosaur) and the ways the protagonist slightly jailbreaks their dinosaur. It's sweet, even if it was pretty obvious where it was going, so not bad!
4. Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse by S. B. Divya [Top]
This one is from our regular correspondent forestofglory, who was giving recs for stories about disabled people wrangling the end of their world! In Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse, a disabled activist has to survive the end of their world when the military comes for their family – and kills the person they expected to survive and deal with all the difficulties that come after.
It's such a good story! I think Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse came up in conversation about disabled people not appearing very much in post-apocalyptic stories, and this is exactly the sort of story we should have more of to counter that. It doesn't shy away from how much the narrator struggles with their escape on a physical and emotional level, and the practicalities and calculations that they have to do to make it possible! And the setting – an Arizona under martial law, where abortion is criminalised on pain of death – is plausibly horrifying and gives the story a little space to dig into reproductive freedom.
It's a very well written, and if you want a story that centres disabled people specifically and explicitly surviving, this is a great place to start!
(And as always: our very own bookgazing has reviewed Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse, so I definitely recommend reading her thoughts on it!)
5. Flow by Marissa Lingen [Top]
Another one about disabled people in an SFF setting from forestofglory! Flow is about a young woman who helps her father and some naiads to solve problems that would affect their river... Until her father dies, and she gets sick.
Flow was really cool. I loved the idea of water spirits recognising people by the thing that made them most like water: the way that they moved. And I love that Gigi finds ways to help the nymphs even without explicit magical direction, and finds wyas that their knowledge can complement each other! It's lovely in its details and emotions, it feels authentic in how people treat a small, female, disabled scientist, and the narration is absolutely lovely. Highly recommended.
6. A Very Large Number of Moons by Kai Stewart [Top]
A Very Large Number of Moons one was weird. It is a one-sided conversation between someone who collects moons – moons of specific types, the moons that hung over specific events... – and someone who would like to take one of those moons off their hands. It has very pretty imagery, and I liked the creativity of the different types of collections and collectibles, but I just... Didn't really have any emotional investment in it. It's not bad, but I don't think I'd bother reading it again.
7. Graffiti Guardians by A. T. Greenblatt [Top]
I really like the premise of Graffiti Guardians! It's about a graffiti artist who's trying to repel the monster spreading malaise over the city by spray painting guardian beasts onto buildings, and also about the things that it's hard to explain to the people that you love the most! Literally my only real problem with it is that it's a bit light on substance – it sets up a lot of interesting stuff but it feels like it's just scratching the surface of what it could do – and it makes me want to go back and reread The City Born Great, which isn't really a problem, is it?
8. The Outlaw Tree by Alex Singer and Mildred Louis [Top]
The Outlaw Tree is about – and hear me out on this one – a tree grown from a cutting of a tree that committed A Crime. No one will tell the tree what this crime is, but all of the cuttings are still liable for them... So she just gets up and walks away!
Apparently this is a riff on a book called The Giving Tree, which given all of the reactions I've seen I'm now assuming is a kid's book that's supposed to be inspiring but is actually a horror story? I haven't read it, so I can't comment on it in that context, but The Outlaw Tree is pretty great! I really enjoy the fairy-tale feel of this story, which especially comes through in the scenarios the tree ends up in and the reasons she finds not to submit to the arborists chasing her. And the tree's personality is great, as is the reveal of the original's crime! It made me very happy, and I enjoyed it a lot.
... I'm not gonna lie to you, I was gonna buckle down and read more Robots Vs Fairies this week and then just faceplanted into a hole made of Detroit: Become Human fic. Please make better life choices that I do.
Reading goal: 90/180 (8 new this post) Prose: 57/90 (8 new this post) Nonfiction: 2/12 (0 new this post)
#getouttamydamnhouse: 23/50 (0 gone this post)
#unofficialqueerafbookclub: 30/50 (3 new this post)