Hello! I somehow managed to read 14 books last month, so as you can imagine I’m struggling a little to narrow it down to a few favourites. That being said, I did read two wondrously feminist & queer fantasy books that couldn’t be more different. One, set in 1950’s America follows the story of a young girl whose life changed when a significant part of the female population shed their skin and became Dragons, and the other a trip into the multiverse courtesy of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White’s Evil Queen. You have no idea how hard it was to narrow last months reads down, but these two books just blew me away. One by a new to me author and the other by pretty much my all time favourite, if you haven’t read these books already get them added to your TBR’s asap.
When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill
Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours. But this version of 1950’s America is characterized by a significant event: The Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales and talons, left a trail of fiery destruction in their path, and took to the skies. Seemingly for good. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex’s beloved Aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn’t know. It’s taboo to speak of, even more so than her crush on Sonja, her schoolmate.
Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of dragons: a mother more protective than ever; a father growing increasingly distant; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and a new “sister” obsessed with dragons far beyond propriety. Through loss, rage, and self-discovery, this story follows Alex’s journey as she deals with the events leading up to and beyond the Mass Dragoning, and her connection with the phenomenon itself.
“My aunt was big and loud and shiny. Sometimes she laughed louder than any man I knew. I found her thrilling, but terrifying too. She had a way of occupying a room that felt dangerous. She was heat and claw and intentional velocity. Even then.”
“Anger is a funny thing. And it does funny things to us if we keep it inside. I encourage you to consider a question: who benefits, my dear, when you force yourself to not feel angry?’ She tilted her head and looked at me so hard I thought she could see right into my bones. She raised her eyebrows. ‘Clearly not you.”
“While it is true that there is a freedom in forgetting – and this country has made great use of that freedom – there is a tremendous power in remembrance.”
“Men, after all, delight in nothing so much as to recast themselves in the centre of the story.”
A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow
Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.
Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?
” I can’t stop myself from picturing the slideshow Charm would assemble for the occasion: So There’s Something Fucky Happening to the Multiverse: Ten Implausible Theories. Or maybe, So You’re a Little Bit Hot for the Villain. We’ve All Been There but This Isn’t the Time Babe.”
“In Sleeping Beauty stories, I’ve come to recognise certain moments – tropes, you might call them, repeated plot points – that have an echo to them. Pieces of the story that have been told so many times they’ve worn the page thin: the christening curse, the pricked finger, the endless sleep, the kiss. You can almost feel reality softening around you, at those times.”
” If she already put you to sleep… how come you aren’t married to a prince right now?’ ‘Oh I told him no. I have seventeen husbands already.’ An extremely compelling dimple appears, presenting a convincing argument that a man might share one-seventeenth of this woman and count himself lucky. ‘Eighteen just seems greedy.’ ‘Sure, yeah,’ I say faintly, making a distant mental note than not all princesses need saving.”
“We don’t all get to choose the parts we’re given to play. You should know that better than most.”