A book that leaves you with a sense of having visited a different world, a haunting memory, and a longing to return is certainly one in which I can say the author accomplished their goal of telling a damn good story. And this book by Premee Mohamad does that. With lyrical, flourishing prose it paints a picture, sometimes one as cloying as the perfumes I imagine which linger in the hall of the capital-h House. A woman who doesn’t stay dead, and upon realizing the power she holds by being outside of the societal structures, it could be an allegory for the lives of those today who choose to operate outside of the bounds of our capitalist, patriarchal society. Especially since the world of this book, the world outside of the House, definitely could be considered our own should things be allowed to continue unchecked and the people disposed of, uncared for.
I’m not sure we cheer for any of the characters, but their journeys certainly are intriguing. Their motivations sometimes fully on display and other times elusive and chameleon-like. Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but it can also taste sweet, and sometimes as heady as a rich, whiskey.
If there’s one complaint I have about this title, it’s that the writing with it’s reliance on over-long sentences combined with the flowery prose almost becomes too much at points. And to my editor’s eye, it took a couple of chapters before I quit looking at just…how…long… the sentences were and became swept up in the story. This book won a Nebula award for best novella, and I can see why, if nothing else than for the fact that it had a very literary feel to it, more atmosphere and mood, and not so much a play-by-play of the action. Which, to be fair, in this story, I’m not sure a play-by-play would be warranted.
In the end, this is a book which kept me reading and drew me into its strange and twisty world that I’m still thinking about the morning after. So while I may still be having extensional thoughts about sentence length and grammar rules, I have to say, that if the story pulls in the reader and leaves a hunting memory, do the mechanics really matter that much? The story worked.
Received from Netgalley in 2021. Just now reading and reviewing due to health issues. My apologies to the author and the publisher for the delay and the posting of my review.