Book Review

Moon Reads: Fireheart Tiger

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

Read before: No

Ownership: Preordered because how could I resist?

Spoiler free review: Probably, will try not to spoiler.

Content warnings: abuse, attempted rape (not graphic, implicit, trauma is dealt with but it’s still there), violence, colonialism

I really like Aliette’s writing, her way with words is like no other, as you can see from my review of In the Vanishers’ Palace and the F/F February exclusive interview for Beyond a Bookshelf. And then you comp this book with The Goblin Emperor and Howl’s Moving Castle.

I’ll start this review with my biggest complaint. It is not long enough. I mean by novella standards it is perfect, but I do wish this was a bigger book. That is in itself I guess also a compliment? Because I’d read a much longer book with Thanh and mischievous fires.

Now, this is a book about a negotiation, of Thanh trying to be a diplomat and help save their country as it is being colonised, seen as an exotic cute small country being fought over by other countries. It reminds me of various countries that had different colonisers and how that went on in actual history, so it was interesting to see the little signs, which I suspect some might miss if you’re not from a background that pays attention to those signs. And then there’s the whole relationship with Eldris, who is very interested in Thanh, but the question is why? It is a fun romance but is it worth becoming more?

In such a small book it packs a massive punch and I highly recommend reading it, since you can not only see Thanh trying to navigate the diplomacy task and knowing that in a way they are doomed and have to find a way out and choose the lesser evil. It is a tricky situation. Plus the slight magic touches and fire that seems to stick to Thanh no matter what is causing her to question her sanity, which is absolutely a delight and also a curious little thing opening up new choices to Thanh.

We also see Thanh navigate her relationship with her mother and in a way, how she sees herself and her abilities to navigate the world and find her own place in it. I am trying to avoid spoilers, so will stop here, but I do recommend you read it.

One last thing I do have to note is that for survivors and those of us who have lived through some of the things Thanh does, the red flags are extremely obvious, but for others they may not be, and my point to that is that yes, it is easy to overlook them if you don’t know. Do not judge without knowing.

Finally, as I said, as a survivor, the power in the words behind this book was inmense, and I felt extremely emotional as I read and as I saw the story develop, my heart soared, and hoped and hurt and it was intense, but so worth it. Hope you find it as good as I did or even better.

Book Review

You Can’t Hide Review

You Can’t Hide by Sarah Mussi

When Lexi wakes up in the Hudson Medical Center, barely in one piece, she is unable to recall how she got there.

Nobody seems to be able to tell her.

Disturbing memories haunt her daylight hours. Nightmares stalk her sleep.
With huge unanswered questions, like where is her Mom – why doesn’t she visit? What’s happened to her boyfriend Finn – and who is this friend, Crystal, who visits her a lot and of whom she has no recollection? Lexi sets out to discover what’s happened.

But the more she searches for answers, the deeper and darker the mystery gets.

And as she begins to piece the fragments together, she remembers one thing: I MUST HIDE FROM CHARLIE.

But the question is: who is Charlie? And is he still out there?

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

I will start by saying that this book requires trigger warnings: domestic abuse, violence, sexual content, gaslighting and similar. (Also mentions amnesia due to an accident)

This review will include small spoilers (not the two main plot things) so decide to read ahead at your own peril.

This is a tough book. Lexi has woken up int he hospital and starts to try to write down to Finn about what is happening. She’s forgotten why she’s in an accident but one thing she hasn’t forgotten at all is that there is imminent danger and that she may not be safe even in the hospital.

To try to help herself recover those memories, she backtracks to the moment they arrived to the US from the UK after having fled from her abusive father (they being her and her mum). And throughout what Lexi writes of her memories after the exodus (as she titles it) we also get flashback scenes on things that happened when she was younger.

The flashbacks can be a little brutal, and many brought memories to my mind, so do be careful when reading this to be prepared (the book doesn’t throw stuff without building up to it). But it was well done, and as we unravel what is happening and what is true and what isn’t things aren’t as clear as they seem.

One of the things that reduced stars for me from this is that Lexi stalls and does a lot of descriptions. I understand this is because that’s probably what someone with amnesia might do as they are anchors. But it became boring and I would skip a lot of her “in the US” descriptions (you don’t miss much).

Probably the best part is her trying to be a stronger self, one that isn’t bullied and pushed like her mother and like herself when they lived int eh same house as her father. That was interesting as was the build up to how they escape, and the build up to what the danger is.

All in all, if you can and want to read this book, it is very brutal and very honest, and does a good picture of domestic violence (and why it is hard to leave, why you don’t see it until it is too late, etc).