Book Review: A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows

A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows

“It’s all right,” said Ruby, squeezing Saffron’s hand.

This is the sequel to An Accident of Stars, which you definitely need to read before reading this one. You can read my (very)short review of that book here.

A Tyranny of Queens is breathtaking. It takes everything that was built and set up in An Accident of Stars, and runs away with it in unexpected directions. I could probably write a great deal of essays about the world that Foz Meadows has created, about what has been done with gender and sex and religion and race, how they relate to where we are now. About polyamorous marriages and matriarchy and family. About how we treat victims.

And the wonderful thing is that all of those things above are in the book without making one feel as though one is reading a book that wants you to think certain things. They just exist, in the world, and the plot roars along like a steam engine on the boil, veering sharply enough that I thought, several times, it had gone off the rails and there was no possible way that this new development could make sense and then it did! The cast is, as in An Accident of Stars, fantastic. Primarily women, and primarily not white women, and with a big mix of ages and origins and wellness – how often do we get main characters with chronic illnesses? Facial scarring? Partial paralysis? Neurodiversity? The answer is not often enough – it’s hard to find even one, and in this book we get all of those things in a fantasy setting, as well as most of the fantasy settings (this is a portal fantasy, so we get more than one world) being extremely queer-friendly.

It is, of course, not perfect. But it’s damn good, and having only finished it a few hours ago I am still emotionally entangled with it all, and more than a bit breathless from the way it ended. I realise I’ve barely mentioned the characters or the plot; in this instance it’s really hard to do without MAHOUSIVE spoilers… So, yanno, go read it 🙂

Rating: Read this book, phone all your friends and make them read it…

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Book Review: Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

It’s late, and the star-starved sky’s a shade of indigo-black.

So, I’ve mentioned this book before (link here). Bearly a Lady is, in a word, delightful. There are a lot of supernatural romance (or as I once saw them labeled in a bookshop, ‘fangbanger’) stories around; I don’t think I’ve ever read one quite like this. The main character is a werebear. A bisexual, WOC, fashonista werebear called Zelda. She is a brilliant protagonist: I felt immediate sympathy and investment. I really cared what happened to her, and I wanted her to be happy.

There’s a tendency for most fluffy fun romance to be very straight. And for a lot of queer romance to have angst of the “am I bi/gay/or so on?” or “Should I tell anyone that I’m bi/gay/a werebear?” type. This story, wonderfully, has neither. Zelda is bi, and precisely no-one makes a fuss. Zelda is a werebear, which is a bit more problematic (waxing. Lots of waxing), but similarly just a thing. Her roommate is a vampire. A wonderfully snarky vampire. And really, I just think you should read this book. It’s warm, it’s fluffy, the writing is excellent and it plays with all the supernatural romance tropes with great glee. Should Zelda go out with the sexy werewolf? Or the infuriating but yummy Fae prince? Or perhaps, someone else entirely…?

It has a lot of brilliant background characters, and the humour is spot on. Also, having a plus-sized main character who gets portrayed as attractive and awesome was great. (you may have noticed that I like this book). So, to sum up, this is definitely fluff, but it’s well written, diverse, queer friendly, intelligent fluff WHICH IS ANNOYINGLY RARE. I shall definitely be re-reading.

Rating: read this book. Release your inner beast, just not while wearing your favourite jeans…

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