I’m back with some mini reviews today. As a big consumer of fantasy, I tend to read a lot of longer books. Fantasy writers have a lot to get into a story and, sometimes, that can lead to some chonky books. Lately, though, I’ve found myself really getting into shorter fiction. That’s why I figured it was time to do a mini review of some mini books, aka novellas!
I’ve been having a great time with the novellas I’ve read recently, but am so behind on actually reviewing them! That being said, let’s jump into this post, shall we?
Nnedi Okorafor has been on my radar for quite some time, but this was my first experience reading her work. Now, I wish to read everything she has ever written!
In Remote Control, we follow the story of a young girl who has lost her name and been adopted by Death. After a tragic event, Sankofa becomes her new name and death follows wherever she goes. She spends her days wandering Ghana with her small fox companion, trying to find answers and an object that fell from the sky and changed her life.
This was such an incredible, quiet read. You would think a book about a girl that brings death with her would be more in-you-face, but this book is much more a character study that was strangely calm. Even when the character was surrounded by death and destruction. I absolutely loved the writing in this story and how it gripped me from beginning to end. I loved Fatima/Sankofa and following her around as she searches for answers to her suffering. Watching her character growth and her interactions with the world around her was a treat! And, even though I could have followed this story for chapters and chapters more, it still felt like a fully formed and finished book in this short amount of pages. I can’t wait to read more from this author!
Who knew that a book about a tea monk and a robot would have me going absolutely feral? And yet, here we are 😂
A Psalm for the Wild-Built focuses on a tea monk named Dex. Dex wasn’t always a tea monk but, when they have a crisis of faith, they decided to try their hand at tea and comfort. They set off into the country with tea leaves and a need for something different, something new. During their travels, they run into Mosscap, a robot. The strange thing about this is that robots haven’t interacted with humans for ages, after becoming sentient and choosing to live away from the human race. And, to make it even stranger, Mosscap has one question for Dex: “What do humans need?”
This review could just be me screaming about how much I love Dex and Mosscap (THEY MUST BE PROTECTED AT ALL COSTS), but I’m going to try it semi-coherent. This was an utterly beautiful story that also struck quite a few nerves. Dex’s crisis that leads them to try a new way of living is something I think anyone can relate to. I know I’ve had a couple times where I looked at where I was and questioned everything about my life. Their struggle to find their peace, their happiness is so poignant that it had me all in my feelings. This is absolutely due to Becky Chamber’s wonderful writing. I instantly connected with Dex and, later, Mosscap and it took this book to another level. I adored this novella and I cannot wait to read more in this series!
If you’re looking for a fantasy with gorgeous storytelling, this novella is going to be a hit for you! This beginning to a series is an absolute gem.
This is the story within a story. First, we have the story of Cleric Chih, who visits an abandoned palace with the intent of cataloging the contents inside. Once there, they meet Rabbit, a handmaiden who was a servant to the Empress that resided in the now empty palace. Rabbit tells Chih a story of a woman taken from her home and how she manages to survive in a hostile environment.
This was such an atmospheric and engaging novella! I loved getting Rabbit’s story through interviews with Chih is fascinating. I love that we get to explore the palace and the past right alongside out main character. I also love Chih’s companion, a talking hoopoe named Almost Brilliant! Almost Brilliant is the best. Reading this made me feel like I was wandering through an abandoned building, picking through leavings of the past, that’s how good the writing was. It envelopes you and it keeps you wrapped in the story from page one until you reach the end. I’m excited that this is just the first in a new series!