Last time I did an WWW Wednesday: ARC edition (two weeks ago, I think?), I was like ‘hey, I’m going to work through my goddamn ARC backlog!’ And then, wouldn’t you know it, I got late-approved for two more October releases. Because, obviously.
I also COULD NOT resist this particular READ NOW title with an October 13th release date because I thought it just sounded so cool and unusual and I wanted to help spread awareness of it. Title in question: Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire, which is a ‘groundbreaking Afrocentric vampire anthology celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the African Diaspora.’
Or, to put it another way: books happened and my backlog is just as loggy as ever.
The Three Ws are: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next? WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking On A World of Words.
I really like Nikita Gill’s Great Goddesses: Life Lessons from Myths and Monsters and I LOVE the cover of her newest book, The Girl and the Goddess so I was very pleased to be approved for this ARC… even though I was also kind of AAAH because I was approved on publication date, October 1st. I have been known to blast through a book or two in a day, so I could – technically – have done that for this one.
But I could tell right away that would have lead to a more or less useless review, as this is the kind of book that is meant to be read slowly.
Reading it also makes me very, very aware of my own breathe. No idea what that means, but that’s how I feel. Does anyone else feel like they’re actually terrible at reviewing books because they just want to be like ‘it’s just this book, you know??? It makes me feel complicated feelings?? And I don’t know what those feelings are??’ Possibly a good time to mention that one of the ways I’m autistic is that I have alexithymia.
She had all the makings of a god but none of the love, no mercy.‘Love Hangover’ – Sheree Reneé Thomas, SLAY
Drawing from a variety of cultural and mythological backgrounds, Slay dares to imagine a world of horror and wonder where Black protagonists take center stage – as vampires, as hunters, as heroes. From immortal African deities to resistance fighters; matriarchal vampire broods to monster hunting fathers; coming of age stories to end of life stories….
Some books you go into determined to love them, and SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire was one of those stories for me. Like, look at the summary. Look at the cover!
Since it’s an anthology, it’s inevitable that some of the stories were better than others. Some of them were actually much better than others, which is mostly a comment on how damn perfect some of the stories were rather than as a slight on the other stories.
Particular favourites of mine:
- ‘Lover Hangover’ by Sheree Renée Thomas | A human becomes an uneasy, enchanted accomplice to a murderous siren of a vampire.
- ‘The Retiree’ by Steven Van Patten | A retired Supernatural hunter goes into an old folks’ home.
- ‘Diary of a Mad Black Vampire’ by Diey Grenor | Two women – one a vampire, one a psycohpath – become enamoured with each other.
- Shadow of Violence by Balogun Ojetade | In the dead of night, a beautiful woman with a motorbike and a ‘teenie-weenie afro’ hunts vampires.
- Desiccant by Craig Laurence Gidney | A trans woman is forced to move into a shithole full of supernatural bloodsuckers and will give up without a fight.
Some of the other stories great concept but were lacking in execution, cut off far too soon to work as a short story, or were solid stories but not as fantastic as the above. But it is definitely, definitely worth reading.
And never forget when all is done: Monsters can’t chase unless you run.
Snow White’s stepmother wanted to get rid of the beautiful stepdaughter who was challenging her title of ‘most beautiful’ – by any means necessary. Was Snow White poisoned? What happens to the poisoned, and the poisoner? A feminist retelling of Snow White.
Jennifer Donnelly’s debut, Stepsister, was actually one of the first ARCs I ever reviewed. As I gave Stepsister five stars, I was stoked when I got approved for Poisoned.
Poisoned is a very three star read. It’s good, it does some interesting stuff, there’s some cool quotes and it progresses in a way that really makes sense buuuut… I expected more, basically.
Also, the narration was inconsistent – sometimes it was the dead huntsman, sometimes it was Snow White herself, and sometimes it was like the author talking to you directly. So the voice.. was not there, and kind of annoying at times. I’m all for doing interesting and quirky things with narration, but when it’s not pulled off it just seems kind of wince.
I did really like how Donnelly handled all of Snow White’s almost-deaths. While one of the characters did tell her to stop trusting strangers in the woods, I never felt that the intended message was ‘stop being good to people or you’ll get hurt’. Likewise, I never felt like the author was victim-blaming Snow White (Sophie) for her near-death experiences. I also liked the ending.
Assuming I don’t get any late-approvals for any November ARCs, I only have the one ARC to read for November (You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat), so! Before that I’m hoping to get through some of my backlog, startig with these ones that look like they’ll be fun, quick reads.
I have classes today, so I probably won’t get to hop around until this evening, but I’m already looking forward to seeing what people are reading this month! Undecided as of yet if I’ll do WWW next week, or wait until the week after next, I guess that depends on how many ARCs I get through…