Happy Friday, trollhunters and Targaryens! I am grateful for all of you, and for your continued interest in my meanderings about SF/F. Today in said meanderings we’ve got updated Satanic lawsuit news, warrior women, Star Trek controversy, mixed morality, and a review of The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson.
This newsletter is sponsored by Revell Books.
To save his enclave’s future, he’ll have to risk his own It’s been fifty years since the Great Crash. What was once America is now a collection of enclaves, governed on the local level and only loosely tied together by the farce of a federal government. Catawba, one of the largest and most affluent enclaves in the southern states, is relatively stable and maintains a successful business of trade with nearby enclaves. But when a new vein of gold is found beneath their feet, it’s only a matter of time before trouble finds them.
In the continued saga of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the Church of Satan is totally fine with that statue (which the Satanic Temple is suing Netflix over). Related, if you want to do a deeper dive into Wicca and paganism, we’ve got a reading list for you.
One Rioter is struggling with her complicated feelings on the Harry Potter franchise and the latest Fantastic Beasts movie.
If you need a warm hug of a post, this round-up from Tor of some of their favorite things from 2018 is exactly that.
If, like me, you’re a fan of all things occult, you will be very interested in this interview about the historical overlap between technology and the supernatural.
For those who prefer their morals gray, Marissa Meyer recommends five books in which you’re not sure which side to root for.
For your ears, Sharifah and I talked about SF/F romances on SFF Yeah!, which was new territory for her.
And now, for a Game of Thrones read-alike that is also an unfinished series, let us all weep together.
The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Trigger warnings: dubious consent, institutionalized homophobia
Baru Cormorant continues to rise through the ranks of the Masquerade government, wielding her mathematical genius with ruthless cunning and keeping her true purpose to herself. But even Baru has scruples from time to time, and now she’s being pursued by a foe hell-bent on torment and her ultimate destruction. She’s also been sent on a mission to discover the truth behind rumors of a shadowy cabal — and the result of this mission could determine the fate of nations.
This sequel to The Traitor Baru Cormorant has all the twists, turns, betrayals, battles, and machinations that you’d expect. What I didn’t expect was, given the events of the first book, how connected to humanity Baru has stayed despite her best efforts. In the hands of another writer, the Baru of Monster could be just that: numbed, narcissistic, entirely convinced of her own rightness, and isolated by choice and/or design from those around her. Instead, we get a Baru who is tormented indeed, but far from numb. Every choice she has made and continues to make is a raw wound, and circumstances conspire time and again to force her to see those around her as people — with their own agendas, and their own wounds. And those people continue to see her as a person, which means she’s not allowed to forget that she is one. It would be easier for her if she could, and in fact this makes her anti-heroism all the more effective. She’s a smoking dumpster fire of internal conflict and contradictions and, as she manipulates and betrays others in the worst of ways, she feels every bit of it.
We also get occasional POV from other characters, and while the voice switches sometimes confused me (some are first-person, some second, some third), I loved the added perspective. Baru knows she’s not seeing everything on the table, and it’s both glorious and terrifying to be able to see what she can’t. My biggest complaint is the enormous, incredibly frustrating cliffhanger — exactly HOW LONG do we have to wait for the next installment?! *Flails arms dramatically*
For those of you who are dying (heh) for a dark, bloody, political-shenanigans-filled, heartbreaker of a series about an antiheroine, grab these two books and buckle up for a wild ride.
And that’s a wrap! You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda, or on Twitter as jennIRL.
Stay strong and keep moving,