I wanted to make sure to actually write a review for this one, because I want more people to be reading it. Everyone who read Babel last year should also read this. Like, ASAP. I’m sure this review is about to be trash because I tend to babble when I attempt to sum up how good this book is, or go on too long, but I’m going to try anyway, because it was such an immersive and satisfying reading experience.
Our main character is Sciona, who has a fierce desire to be the first woman ever admitted to the High Magistry. She has spent her life studying harder and more relentlessly than anyone else around her, and now it’s time for her to finally prove herself. Except, achieving her dream turns out to be almost nothing like she hoped it would be. There’s the sexism, of course, but the bigger problem is that Sciona’s admittance, and the conversations she beings to have with her lab assistant, Thomil, put into motion events that Sciona doesn’t want to happen, and she begins to have her eyes opened in ways that are disturbing, and which begin to undermine her own sense of her identity. Her lab assistant, who used to be the janitor, was given to her as a prank by her male colleagues, and he is a member of a looked down upon minority group in Sciona’s supposed “utopia” of a city. Their complex relationship is the heart of the book, and I really can’t say more than that.
There were several points of this book that I literally gasped out loud (which were mostly followed by agonized moans of disbelief). This book GOES THERE. And you have no idea it’s going to do that, or where it’s going, at the beginning. The ending of the book is so emotionally intense and exciting (and terrible) that I don’t think I looked up from my Kindle for almost two hours. And that says something right there, that this book was able to hold my attention on Kindle, when I normally have a really hard time paying attention to things I read electronically.
After this book, I will follow M.L. Wang wherever she wants to go, and I’m really excited to get to The Sword of Kaigen sometime in 2024.
[4.5 stars, rounded up bc wow]
Read Harder Challenge 2023: Read an independently published book by a BIPOC author.