Writing: 4 / 5 Characters: 4.5 / 5 Plot: 4.5 / 5
I had such fun reading this book — clever and funny with plenty of gender benders, surprise twists, and sass. Short, too, at only 128 pages.
Zinnia Gray of Ohio is the Dying Girl. Afflicted with GRM — a malady that always kills before its victims reach 22 — she has become obsessed with all things Sleeping Beauty (a girl with very similar problems). What follows is a funny and piercingly acute adventure through alternative narratives where an array of women try to alter the “crap” storylines they were given.
It’s a brilliant modernization, magnification, and multiplication of Sleeping Beauty stories, all come together with the spare prose and humorous asides that I love in Harrow’s writing. Some of the references to academic takes on folklore and feminism crack me up while simultaneously getting to the point of what is truly important. A favorite line referencing a female character with a sword: “I know they promoted a reductive vision of women’s agency that privileged traditionally male-coded forms of power, but let’s not pretend girls with swords don’t get shit done.”
Great characters that I liked a lot, no BS, plenty of adventure, some cool self-reflection and growth (always enjoyable), and plenty of gender norm challenges that are playful rather than strident.
Harrow is right up there in my must-reads list.
A couple of other fun lines:
“My only friend in this entire backwards-ass pre-Enlightenment world is about to be married off to a sentient cleft chin.”
“We might not be able to fix our bullshit stories, but surely we can be less lonely inside them at the end.”
Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on October 5th, 2021.
One thought on “A Spindle Splintered by Alix E Harrow (Speculative Fiction)”
I’m putting this one on my reading list. Thanks for the recommendation.