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[personal profile] ursula
I was up long past my bedtime last night reading Spirit: The Princess of Bois Dormant (courtesy of amazon.ca, since it's not out in the US yet). The editorial reviews and back cover are misleading, in the sense that blatant Count of Monte Cristo references don't start showing up until halfway through, and at several hundred pages in I have yet to meet the Princess of Bois Dormant. The reviews don't mention that Spirit is a direct sequel to the White Queen books (and also to Life, unless that's convergent evolution); the book also has a handful of Fiorinda references. This makes for some dense, dense worldbuilding to sort out-- I'm not convinced that "Our heroine has two X chromosomes" would make any sense as a plot point on its own, for instance. Spirit also falls into the White Queen tradition of making "You have no idea what the aliens are thinking" a central plot element, this time with shades of horror. (Think Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis series crossed with the Long Sun books.) And as we might have expected from Gwyneth Jones, there is angst about motherhood. Really intense angst about motherhood.

I suspect that whether the story is ultimately satisfying will depend on how much of a clue the Princess has about what is actually going on. Intermediate joys involve that dense worldbuilding: our heroine is Welsh/Pakistani (Bibi short for Gwibiwr) and grows up in the central Asian city of Baykonur, her fiancé is named Mahmood McBride and paints his mustache on, and while in other science-fiction novels that kind of ethnic mix works out to a generic paint-water gray, here it is layers and layers and layers of knowledge, and Traditional never means quite what you would expect . . .

July 2017

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