I had to sit with this novella for a while after finishing; mainly to make sense of how I felt about it, or if I even understood it enough to form a valid rating. But ultimately, that was the problem I had with this story. The premise sounded great, but ultimately the quest isn’t all that inspiring, and many times I had to re-read sentences to understand what was happening, just for the author to have moved on to another topic in the next sentence, making for jumbled paragraphs and a reading experience where I never once felt really enmeshed in the story. And while the book deservedly gets praise for how it blends traditional epic fantasy prose with modern day vernacular, I personally found the shifts to be rather jarring. It’s clear that the author set out to craft a really vivid and rich world for the reader to get swept up in, only to make it really uninviting by burying it in a murky and obscure narrative.
What happens to the world when only three of the four horsemen ride? “Misericorde” looks at that in great detail. Set in the future when all horsemen of the apocalypse—except Death—ride, the author presents a world that has fallen back into the Middle Ages. All technology is gone, there is no electricity, and people go back to living in castles in the few places where basic resources can still be found. There is a ruling class that lives in luxury, while all their servants are barely surviving. You never really meet this ruling class though, instead the reader is introduced to a servant, Lourdes, the brutal soldiers she’s tasked with serving, and an Archangel that is determined to find any human still capable of mercy in such a brutal world. This book has “Angelfall” vibes but written with literary prose full of feeling, with well crafted characters, but maybe just a tad too much description.
“Sacred Mounds” is a historical fantasy and magical realism tale full of prose and a dual timeline with its main characters living 400 years apart. What connects Lewis and Skyfisher? Not much, and that’s the point. Skyfisher is on a quest to save his people, and the world, through strengthening the connection his people have to these sacred mounds. In order to do that, he must inhabit the body of someone in the future in order to bring those memories, appreciation, and understanding of these mounds and Natchez people to a place where they are otherwise almost forgotten. But while Skyfisher is in the future, inhabiting Lewis’ body, Lewis’ consciousness is placed into Skyfisher. Now Lewis is in the body of a blind man, with a wife he can’t communicate to, on a mission he knows nothing about, but he has to complete it if he ever wants to return to his rightful time and body.
This is my first foray into Lorde’s writing as I don’t typically read poetry. That being said, Lorde’s writing is gorgeous, visceral, and still holds so much truth even close to 40 years after “Sister Outsider” was originally published. That’s really why I wanted to read this, to better understand and educate myself on racism and sexism in a way that I, as a white woman, don’t experience and don’t see the way that black women do, or lesbian POC would experience. I learned so much from this collection of essays and interviews, both about feminism and racism. It took me much longer to get through this relatively short book because I often had to sit with what I just read, to really digest it and hear what Lorde had to say, which is written with incredible passion. But it also took me awhile to finish because the organization of the different essays wasn’t well thought out, and the different essays got a little repetitive.
I had to take my time with this review so it wouldn’t devolve into a jumble of screeching and excited gurgles. But trust me when I say that this book is like riding a roller coaster while tripping. But, you know, in the most masterful way possible. Muir is easily, and quickly, becoming one of my favorite authors; not only can she craft such a gothic and macabre, gory and intensely beautiful world, but she successfully uses ALL THREE types of POV’s in this book in order to build the most amazing mystery and the best pay out for said mystery that I’ve read in a long, long time. Which makes writing a review for this book so, so hard… I don’t want to say anything for fear it mat spoil something, which would ruin everything. But let’s give it a try, shall we?
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