An evocative coming-of-age novel that captures the fear, rage, and yearning of three women growing up in a time of...

READ REVIEW

THE WATER CURE

Three sisters, secreted away during a global crisis of male violence, learn to fight for their survival in this spare, dystopian debut.

Grace, Lia, and Sky follow the rituals enforced by their mother and their father, King, the only man they've ever known. The strange family lives in an isolated, crumbling mansion by the sea, where women arrive to receive the family's storied water cures and heal from violent pasts. They look like "they had been bled out, their skin limp. Eyes watering involuntarily, hair thinning," recalls Lia, and the sisters learn to fear a world that visits so much violence on its women. There are water cures for everything: to purify toxins from the outside world, illness, grief, too much feeling. The rituals themselves are often violent, requiring drowning or self-harm. When the novel opens, the sisters are mourning the death of King and the discovery of Grace's pregnancy, which disrupts their harmony and fractures their routines. To complicate matters, three men wash up on shore and beg for entry. Met with deep suspicion and relegated to the beach, the men become figures of both fascination and fear. Mackintosh alternates between the sisters' collective voices and the heartbreaking narratives of Grace and Lia. Despite being warned by her sisters and mother to stay away, Lia begins her first love affair with Llew, who is by turns charming, careless, and cruel. Grace gives birth to King's stillborn baby boy, an experience that isolates her from her younger sisters and her mother, who inexplicably disappears. While the narrative at times veers toward the pedantic, it's both shocking and refreshing to see the observations women make to one another—about the specific, learned cruelties and emotional violence of men—represented so plainly on the page. "It was no one big thing but many small things," one of the patients writes in the house Welcome Book. "Each one chipped away at me. By the end, I felt skinless." Ultimately, Grace, Lia, and Sky must make a choice: to trust the men or to save one another.

An evocative coming-of-age novel that captures the fear, rage, and yearning of three women growing up in a time of heightened violence.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54387-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

THE FIFTH SEASON

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 1

In the first volume of a trilogy, a fresh cataclysm besets a physically unstable world whose ruling society oppresses its most magically powerful inhabitants.

The continent ironically known as the Stillness is riddled with fault lines and volcanoes and periodically suffers from Seasons, civilization-destroying tectonic catastrophes. It’s also occupied by a small population of orogenes, people with the ability to sense and manipulate thermal and kinetic energy. They can quiet earthquakes and quench volcanoes…but also touch them off. While they’re necessary, they’re also feared and frequently lynched. The “lucky” ones are recruited by the Fulcrum, where the brutal training hones their powers in the service of the Empire. The tragic trap of the orogene's life is told through three linked narratives (the link is obvious fairly quickly): Damaya, a fierce, ambitious girl new to the Fulcrum; Syenite, an angry young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor and who stumbles across secrets her masters never intended her to know; and Essun, searching for the husband who murdered her young son and ran away with her daughter mere hours before a Season tore a fiery rift across the Stillness. Jemisin (The Shadowed Sun, 2012, etc.) is utterly unflinching; she tackles racial and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while chronicling the painfully intimate struggle between the desire to survive at all costs and the need to maintain one’s personal integrity. Beneath the story’s fantastic trappings are incredibly real people who undergo intense, sadly believable pain.

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-22929-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE OBELISK GATE

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 2

In the second of a trilogy (The Fifth Season, 2015) by the science-fiction columnist for the New York Times Book Review, the latest in a series of apocalypses marches on.

The powerful orogene Alabaster has used his powers to tear a blazing rift across the continent, and humanity faces extinction. Finding refuge in the underground comm of Castrima, the now-dying Alabaster struggles to impart vital information and skills to his former student and lover, Essun, which could potentially cease the flow of the tectonically devastating Seasons. All the while, Castrima faces tension from within—those who fear Essun’s rapidly growing magical powers—and without, as an invading army prepares to take the comm’s dwindling supplies for its own. Although Essun’s greatest desire is to recover Nassun, the daughter she loves, the girl always wanted to escape her mother, whom she perceives as cold and who imposed harsh training to discipline and hide her daughter’s orogeny. Nassun willingly left with her adored father even though he murdered her brother and violently loathes all orogenes. This uneasy father/daughter pair travels to a mysterious, distant community rumored to “cure” orogeny, where Nassun discovers a key figure from her mother’s past—but he’s no longer quite what he used to be. The worldbuilding deepens in this installment, with fresh revelations about the distant past and the true and alarming nature of the enigmatic stone eaters. But as in the previous volume, it’s the people who take front and center. Jemisin’s depictions of mob behavior are frighteningly realistic. And she offers a perceptive and painful portrayal of two different kinds of abusive relationships between parent and child. She also generates huge amounts of nuanced sympathy for some (but not all) of the characters driven to do truly dreadful things, often accidentally, to save themselves and the ones they love.

Stunning, again.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-22926-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more