Publisher: The Kraken Collective
All Marian wants is for society to accept that she’s just not interested in… whatever society thinks she ought to be interested in. A princess with a reputation for insults and snide remarks, she’s afraid to show anyone who she would be if people would let her. In a fit of temper at her refusal to marry, her father creates her worst nightmare: she is to be wed to the first beggar who arrives at the gates.
Edel was visiting purely for diplomatic reasons, aiming to ensure her daughter inherits a strong and peaceful kingdom. She sees something in Marian that is achingly familiar and when Edel hears the king’s proclamation, only one thing is on her mind: to protect Marian from the fate that had befallen Edel herself.
Their lives threaded together by magic, Edel and Marian will have to find their way in the world in this queerplatonic, sapphic verse novel retelling of King Thrushbeard.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Did I request this book for the aro/ace rep? Yes. Did this book deliver? Absolutely. This book tells the story of Edel and Marian, their lives, their first encounter, and their experience with their sexualities. Edel, Queen-regent, is asexual aromantic, who’s been married and had children out of necessity. Marian, princess of a neighboring country, is sex-repulsed asexual homoromantic. What I love about this book is how open the characters are about the discussion of labels like asexual and aromantic. Both characters have their own experiences that shape how they view those words and how they view their sexuality in general. Marian in particular, wasn’t aware of the term asexual until she was 17, and there’s a lot of discussion of her confusion when she first discovered her feelings were different and how she thought herself different or strange.
Aromantic, we call it
You know that, my sweet
Aromantic and asexual, in fact
Why do those words bother you so?
They don’t bother me!
I just… This isn’t the right place for them.
It’s my story and I’m telling it, now hush.
No, dear. If you’re going to tell it,
Tell it loud. Tell it proud.
That’s why I agreed to do this.
I want to hear no more.
Of people like yourself
Who needed words they lever learned
Because no one believed they were needed.
I loved the dynamic between Edel and Marian. The pair make such wonderful foils to each other. Edel is older and thinks very logically, while Marian is younger and very very hotheaded. While Edel never faces major blatant opposition or discrimination due to her sexuality, Marian grows up thinking she’s somehow wrong and develops very extreme defense mechanisms to ensure people don’t discover the true reason she turns down all her suitors. Closer to the end of the book, I thought Marian was getting a little on the annoying side of bratty, but Edel makes such a wonderful counterbalance that I didn’t mind too much.
One thing that might catch readers off-guard (I certainly was) is the formatting. This is a verse book, which means sentences are broken up into fragments like a really long Instagram poem (see quote above). The book is written as a conversation between two characters, Edel and Marian, and the justification of the text lets the reader know who’s speaking. I thought the formatting was odd at first, but it was something I very quickly adapted too.
Overall, I rated this book a 4/5. I loved the aro/ace rep and discussion in this book and I thought Marian and Edel were absolutely adorable. While the formatting was different, found myself easily adapting to it, though it might bother other people. I did find Marian’s character a little annoying, but that’s largely because I relate so much to Edel.
/r/Fantasy Bingo 2018 Squares
- Book published in 2018
- Hopeful Spec-Fic
- Self Published Novel
- Novel Featuring a Protagonist Who is a Writer/Artist/Musician
- Novel With Fewer than 2500 Goodreads Ratings
- Stand Alone Fantasy Novel
- Novel from the /r/Fantasy LGBTQ+ Database