I understand this is the author's debut novel, and it shows. I feel it would be dishonest to rate this book any lower, simply because it doesn't really feel finished, at least in the ARC I read and that I got through Netgalley. It simply needs a lot, lot more editing. The writing is messy, I couldn't understand the beginning, the setting is frankly awful, we have a brown/indianish
lead that wears revealing saris and for some reason speaks african-american vernacular (I think the author wanted to go for "child from the street accent", but it's a terrible idea : accents are often simply too racially loaded to translate well into text— they invariably become offensive parodies of themselves), in some kind of medieval european setting with vintage radios (???) and knights that wield japanese swords????
The names are frankly bad. I feel that it's the least you can do to have decent place or character names but this book treads awfully close to Ebony Dark'Ness Dementia Raven Way territory sometimes. Raj comes from Limerick?
Her best friend is called Lady Nightingale, her ex is "Nyte" (I seriously wondered if this was parody at that point— but the terrifying fact is, it isn't), the ex's wife is called Miss Fury, and the girl Raj saved is called Luna. Other words thrown in because whatever : Slutgarden (a district. This town has like 10 district names), Maleficio (another discrict), Excalibur (I don't even remember what that is)... And I thought me naming all my RPG characters after myself was lazy and uninspired.
And frankly, the high point that made me request an ARC for this book in the first place was the sex. Dominant/submissive sex usually never fails with me, but this one does. It's clogged by some very tedious writing that blends silly euphemisms, downright wtf-inducing metaphores— it just sounds too amateurish to be sexy. My advice here would be to stop trying to equal sex with drowning while ascending the Mount Everest while a black hole pulls at you and just write sex
. The rest is drowned in awkward dialogue that never quite feels normal.
This book could be so much more— the writing shows that it can be good at times, and it actually gets relatively better as the book goes. And I suppose one can excuse so many flaws by the fact that this is a debut work, but this simply needs better editing before it can be palatable.
Oh, and main characters raping another, even if he is himself a rapist, that's not okay. Rape isn't a weapon we can use on people we deem to be evil, and seeing it so casually dealt on someone without being called out for what it is lands this book straight in my rape culture list.