Makeda deals with family drama, an ailing father, and growing up. It’s a little harder to do all that when your father is a disgraced nature spirit, your twin sister is a demi-goddess, and you’re the token mundane in an extremely magical family.
Character empathy rating
The characters in this are not only empathetic, but extremely likable. Makeda in particular has an individuality that I look for in all my favorite books. So often I’ll like every character in a book except the protagonist, who is just paper. Makeda is a snarky, impulsive, pig headed hot mess who reminds me of some of my best friends, and I want to go have a coffee and craft store friends date with her.
Tone: What’s it Like to Read This Book?
Fun! Even though things get serious and you will worry for the characters (the last few chapters will fly by), this book feels like an extroverted childhood friend; wild and bouncy yet deeply comfortable.
It’s also completely original. There wasn’t a single page where I felt like I was following something that could appear in any other urban fantasy novel, which is such a relief. I love the genre in theory, but, like much of fantasy writing, it can get mired in cliche and formula, when it should showcase human imagination at it’s wildest.
And while it’s light and fun, it’s not shallow. The characters have rich inner lives, and when the scenes turn towards ancient magic, it really does feel like you’re seeing something just beyond normal human ken. Makeda’s arc is well constructed, and the end of her story left me thinking, in the best way.
Other Shiny Stuff
Jimi Hendrix’s guitar is a character. He’s great
Also features Death as a favorite, if somewhat stiff uncle
A child medium scene where the kid was actually written. Half the time even kids in realistic fiction don’t feel at all like real kids, so I’ve come to peace with the fact that fantasy-novel magical kids are going to talk like tiny Yodas. Then Nalo Hopkinson comes along and completely nails a normal child who happens to channel the voices of the most eldrich gods.
A nursing home that has to deal with constant invasions of deer and raccoons because it’s the personification of the primal life force in there, and he kind of can’t help calling nature to his side.
Bisexual representation! Nalo Hopkinson is really good in general if you’re looking for some good queer fantasy
There’s some consensual incest that isn’t nearly as off-putting as it sounds. Like, you know how, in classic myths, half the gods are technically married to their siblings and then cheat on them with sexy horses and stuff? This book… plays with how that would play out in a modern era. It doesn’t sound like it should work, but it totally does.
“Beauty and ingenuity beat perfection hands down, every time.”
“I’m going to check the world’s best source for spawning new urban legends, the Internet. What, you thought I couldn’t even type? The Web is just another threshold between one world and another.”
“When your elders are millennia-old demigods, you’d best take the injunction to respect your elders seriously.”
“Why? Because I played god with you? Baby girl, that’s what I do. And not lightly, either.” He thought about that for a second. “Well, yes, sometimes lightly. You know what they say about all work and no play.”