My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a bit of a weird one to rate and categorise for me. It’s billed as being ‘darkly comic’ but I didn’t feel anything like that coming through. It’s a tale of a woman who does not fit in and trying to fit in the only ways she knows how. It explores ideas of normalised behaviour within society and how these normalisations can make anyone who doesn’t adhere to them feel alien or, in Keiko’s example, not human.
She goes from trying to be normal based on what her family and sister want or react to, to people she’s known from school, to her colleagues at the convenience store, including Shirara, who also falls outside social norms but is equally no good for Keiko.
This is a story about following your instincts whether or not that makes you appear ‘normal’ and ultimately trying to shake off the restrictive expectations that are placed upon us by societal and cultural norms.
Keiko is a well-written, neurodiverse character in a story that does not focus on naming and parading her differences. The author has successfully made a sympathetic character and does an excellent job of telling the story through the eyes of someone who feels out of place and as if they don’t understand the world swirling around them. Keiko’s slice of normalcy as a ‘Convenience Store Woman’ feels tangible and provides an excellent opportunity to explore the difficulties she faces getting on in life.
Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ah, Falcio, Falcio, Falcio; sometimes you are a bit of a great big dumb-dumb.
As this book was significantly longer than the first I was expecting it to take longer to read but somehow it was just as easy to make progress with and went by quite quickly for 600 pages. Compared to the first book there was also a lot that was very similar and Falcio seems to be somehow both clever and utterly oblivious all at once, which did start to grate on me a little in this installment.
How is he so intuitive in battle and negotiations and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together to see the picture no one else can and yet still never figure out who is behind the grand machinations that are sweeping Tristia? I guessed both “big reveals” of who was behind the two different forms of atrocities fairly early on and found myself getting more and more frustrated by Falcio’s dumbest genius routine. This happened in the first book too but as that was a lot shorter it didn’t impact my overall enjoyment quite so much; in this book I found myself getting a bit bored of Falcio’s selective stupidity.
Oh, and can we stop calling every woman in the book a ‘whore’? I mean, c’mon! Use your imaginations, boys & girls.
DESPITE the drawbacks above, I still enjoyed the story overall though it feels very compact. I will continue with the series to Saint’s Blood and I’m curious to see if any of my other predictions will come true.
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