It’s been a moment since I’ve done this for the blog, but in my defense, I’m a hopeless slacker. No, but seriously, it’s been a good while since I’ve done a review post. So many circumstances in my life have shifted over the past few months that I lost the only three times I actually had set aside to read, so I’ve slowed down drastically like I have with writing. However, I did manage a few things to read before I finally started Sofia Samatar’s short story collection Tender to end my reading calendar year.
Na’amen Gobert Tilahun – The Root
I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of The Root at WisCon and began reading it over the summer. However, it took me five months to get through it. It’s simply a long book with small print, and as I said, I’ve lost almost all my set aside reading time due to extenuating circumstances. So I can tell you that it was worth those five months to get through The Root. Tilahun’s worldbuilding is thorough and enchanting, creating urban fiction in both a recognizable real-world setting and an alternate dimension (Zebub) that parallels San Francisco. Told through multiple points of view but focusing on two primary protagonists, Erik and Lil, The Root is the type of urban fantasy that makes for good drama. And truth be told, I’d love to see this book adapted even as I await the next sequels in this series. As a content warning, there are some instances of brutality during graphic fight scenes, but it’s never gratuitous, always necessary in demonstrating the odds Erik, Lil, and their respective secret societies face in their battles against evil forces.
Tracey Baptiste – The Jumbies
I won a copy of this book (and its sequel) from the publisher. While I usually don’t read stories meant for children or teens, I thought I should get past my reservations and give these books a chance. I’m glad I did. The Jumbies follows Corinne La Mer and her friends as they find themselves facing the reality of the stories their parents told them about jumbies, tricksters with the ability to shapeshift and take vengeance upon humans. One of the things I loved most about this book is that a pre-teen Black girl gets to have an adventure. Corinne is outgoing and already has a role in running the household she shares with her single father. Another thing I loved is the focus on and setting in the Caribbean as we don’t have many we can name off the top of our heads that center the traditions and stories of this part of the world. Baptiste falls in line with writers like Nalo Hopkinson who bring Caribbean folklore to the fore.
Tracey Baptiste – Rise of the Jumbies
I immediately started the sequel to The Jumbies right after I finished it. While the story continues to focus on Corinne, there is a small change in setting. Well, two actually. Whereas the first story gave us an idea of forest jumbies, Baptiste turns her attention to the sea for this fanciful sequel. The underwater sequences are the things fantasy is made of and takes us all into the depths of our imaginations. Possible spoiler alert, but Baptiste also takes the setting off the Caribbean island for an incredible “return” home that eventually addresses that most peculiar aspect of the Black diaspora. Rise of the Jumbies is one of those rare sequels that matches its predecessor and gives little Black girls the fantasy hero they’ve always needed in Corinne La Mer.
Damian Duffy and John Jennings – Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation
For a long time, Octavia Butler’s Kindred was my favorite book. It still holds a place in my heart and I will never feel the way I do about it about another book. So I grabbed a copy of the book during WisCon and eventually got around to it a couple of weeks ago. I must say the adaptation does the novel justice. Duffy made some great choices about which elements should be used to tell the story in a new way while Jennings’ illustrations brought a new dimension to experiencing Butler’s vision. In some ways, the illustrations made it tougher because you actually see what happens to the characters. You can’t simply just imagine it. Even those who don’t like or usually read graphic novels can appreciate what was done here.
Avy Jetter – Nuthin Good Ever Happens at 4 A.M.
Last week, I saw that the latest edition of my favorite indie comic was available, so I ordered a copy right away. If you’ve caught previous reviews of this series, then you know it’s set in a more accurately diverse Oakland overrun by zombies with the gang of survivors trying to figure out what’s happening and find loved ones. However, in addition to the outbreak, there seems to be more sinister goings on afoot. In this edition, we get a little hint as to what might be behind the outbreak or at least who knows something about it. And by the way, Jetter included some lovely zombie stickers with my order! Unfortunately, the camera on my tablet is broken so I can’t share them *sad face emoji*. However, you can check out her Etsy shop to find her comics, stickers, postcards, and apparel.