The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw | 1 Minute Reviews

What a pleasantly macabre novel this is.

As a former teen witch wannabe from watching The Craft too many times, I have an innate weakness for literary witches. The Wicked Deep had been on my radar for this exact reason, so I was very pleased when Simon and Schuster offered to send me a copy of the UK paperback.

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 11.19.49

Marguerite, Aurora and Hazel Swan were drowned in the town of Sparrow’s harbour, accused of witchcraft and seduction. But their souls could not be contained by their aquatic prison. Every summer the sisters return to land, inhabiting the bodies of local girls, luring boys and men to their deaths in the harbour that claimed them 200 years ago.

Penny Talbot has been watching the Swan Season from the sidelines for years, too superstitious to take part in the town’s Swan-themed parties and celebrations, too wary to celebrate an annual slaughter. When a tourist named Bo blows into town looking for work, Penny finds herself drawn to him, offering him work in the lighthouse she lives in. But when Bo catches the attention of the Swan sisters, Penny must fight to keep him safe.

9781481497343
Can we pause a moment to admire the USA cover? What a beaut!

Where The Graces has all the sex and swagger of The Craft, The Wicked Deep has all the darker sides of Practical Magic — a small town utterly linked to one family of women and its curse.

I enjoyed reading the burgeoning relationship between Penny and Bo — there’s nothing like a bit of jeopardy and a 200 year old curse to bring a couple together.

Shea Ernshaw‘s debut novel demonstrates that she is an author to watch out for, providing the reader with an engaging (and often unreliable) narrator in Penny, a complex set of relatable villains, and a small town with a blood-curdling history.

Inspired by the Salem Witch trials, this is a fantastic novel of revenge, curses and murder set against a backdrop of the salt-sprayed Oregon coast.

Get it here: UK (Hive) // UK Paperback and USA Hardback (Book Depository)

What to read next:

Thank you to the lovely team at Simon and Schuster for sending me not just a copy of the book but the delicious smelling Sparrow candle from Meraki Candles.

Want to learn more about trans people? Suggestions from a non-binary babe

Two important non-fiction books have come across my desk in the last few months and I felt it was a great opportunity to share my take on them together.

I’m non-binary (or genderqueer). I have never felt wholly woman or wholly man, and is something I’ve felt but not quite understood for my entire life. I’ve explored various transitioning options, but right now I’m happy with a binder on my dysphoric days and people not referring to me as a lady/girl/woman, though I’m fine with she pronouns. Important aside note: this varies with every single person, so be sure to ask them!

The last few years have been a very interesting time for trans rights. You may remember a few years ago Laverne Cox graced the front cover of Time magazine, with the phrase “The Transgender Tipping Point” alongside her. This was 2014; Cox was a trans woman playing a trans character on Orange is the New Black and Caitlin Jenner had just announced that she would be transitioning. This was a time of hope, of visibility.

laverne.PNG

In the last twelve months, it has felt like acceptable discrimination towards trans women in particular has escalated in the UK. It has felt, in watching from the sidelines, that much of the trans-exclusionary discourse has been allowed to continue as though it was a legitimate topic of discussion, as though debating someone’s personhood is okay. I’m not going to link to the fundraiser by disgraced former Labour Party members, but this article goes into a little detail of what’s been happening, for example, within a political party that is support to stand up for the oppressed. Meanwhile, the media has continued to pit trans exclusionary feminists against trans women on talk shows in some misguided and dangerous effort for the sake of balance. Paris Lees refers to the current wave of violence towards trans people as an epidemic.

One way you can support trans people is through buying work from trans creators, but also by reading about them, educating yourselves on their lives and the issues they face daily. For this, I would immediately direct your attention to two books: Trans Like Me by CN Lester and Trans Britain edited by Christine Burns.

9780349008608

Trans Like Me is a mixture of memoir and writing about the current climate around trans people. Lester, who is non-binary, has created an informative introduction to issues surrounding trans people without ever being patronising. While trans people may be familiar with much of the introductory topics Lester provides, I suspect that much of the information about current issues for trans people will be new to many cis people.

As a non-binary person, I found reading Lester’s struggles with presentation and their frustrations at the limitations of hormonal therapy — to be personal here, a major factor in not taking hormones for me was wanting to maintain my singing voice, the same as Lester.

It is an affirming, emotional book that made me cry multiple times.

9781783524716

Trans Britain is a very different but complementary book to Trans Like Me; a historical anthology, including essays from individual people telling their own story within the major eras of trans history in the UK. Burns sets the scene by dividing the book into three distinct sections, and introducing them to the climate of that era, providing a reader with an overview that places the following essays within a clear cultural context.

The chapter on non-binary people was an essential learning process for me, seeing how we fit into the historical trans movement. I’ve only really began to understand myself as non-binary, knowing that I’ve always been “other” than the binary gender options, and this chapter in particular made me feel so much more connected to myself.

This is a book of mini-memoirs, and the story of a history that is still unfolding.

Trans Like Me: UK (Hive) // International (Book Depository)

Trans Britain: UK (Hive) // International (Book Depository)

These are both a great place to start. This thread I did for Trans Day of Remembrance has a number of recommendations from genres beyond non-fiction, so no matter what your reading style is there’s something for you to read. If young adult fiction is a favourite of yours, there are a number of trans main characters in the novels reference in this list.

Have you read either of these books? Do you have any recommendations? Tell me in the comments!

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi | 1 Minute Reviews

This is hands down going to be one of the best novels you’re going to read this year. I’m that confident. Yes, art is subjective, but honestly, this is a furious, brutal riot of a book and I think any fans of Sabaa Tahir, Nnedi Okorafor, Leigh Bardugo and Alwyn Hamilton are going to be extremely pleased with this book. This is easily a personal favourite of 2018, and is going to be absolutely huge — already evidenced by its competitive publishing auction and already snapped up film rights.

Inspired by Yoruban folklore, Children of Blood and Bone is the first novel in the next big fantasy epic series, and  follows three Orïshan teenagers whose lives are changed forever when they discover a way to return magic to their world.

9781509871353

Zélie is a Magi, easily identified by her sheer white hair, who has been training to fight in secret with Mama Agba. Even though magic has been struck from their lands, Magi still live as second class citizens, punished and forced further into poverty routinely by the cruel King Saran. Meanwhile, Princess Amari witnesses the murder of her Magi best friend at the hands of her father, understanding the part of a mysterious scroll in it all, which she steals from the palace.

Drawn together at a market, the two girls work together to flee not just Amari’s father but her intense brother Inan. When Mama Agba reveals to the girls that the scroll presents an opportunity to restore magic to Orïsha, the girls and Zélie’s brother Tzain set off on an adventure across the country.

 

I completely fell in love with this novel, a slow burn you can’t turn your head from. It hooks you in deep and I’d find myself having to return to my daily life wondering what would befall the characters next. I particularly enjoyed the eerie connection between Inan and Zélie, an intense connection on a semi-psychic level they cannot escape, somewhat like that of Rey and Kylo-Ren.

UK readers, do not be put off by the size of the paperback — chapters are relatively short as the narrative flits between Zélie, Amari and Inan, but importantly the book never feels slack, an impressive feat for a debut novel at almost 600 pages. I await the rest of the Legacy of Orisha saga with bated breath, especially after that ending.

This is a novel of rebellion, of uprisings, of fire and might. While the tale may be fantasy, the intense emotion that bleeds through every page is all Adeyemi’s, a literary reaction to the deaths and persecution black people in America (and globally) are experiencing daily.

You may have already come across the author Tomi Adeyemi through this beautiful moment she shared with us all — the day her books arrived. You might not know that her website has a wealth of creative writing tips and lessons, a resource I’m going to be reading all of!

We have been blessed with a wealth of young adult releases this Spring, but if you’re going to pick just one to read, pick this.

Children of Blood and Bone is a passionate epic, an immersive battlecry of a novel, a book that you absolutely must not miss.

What to read next:

Thank you kindly to My Kinda Books and PanMac News for kindly sending a copy over to me.