Book Review

Mini(bot) Reviews: Empire of Sand & Aquicorn Cove

Sometimes I want to review a book, but I don’t have all that much to say. Rather than push myself to come up with a review that I didn’t enjoy writing (and likely you didn’t enjoy reading), or not mention the book at all, I’ll post a mini review.

Today I have two books for you: an adult fantasy (not that kind of adult fantasy) and a middle-grade graphic novel, both of which I really enjoyed.

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
My Edition: Paperback – 432 pages – 2018 – Orbit – ISBN: 9780316449717

Mehr is an Amrithi – a descendant of the desert spirts – and an illegitimate outcast in her father’s home. Mehr struggles to adapt to court life and still keep the ways of her mother’s people, while her sister is being groomed as a “proper” Ambhan woman. When a storm hits the city and Mehr inadvertently reveals powers she wasn’t aware she has, the mystics come for her. Mehr finds herself hastily wed and trekking across the desert to the palace of the Maha so she can use her magic to serve both him and the Emperor and their cruel agendas.

First off, big thanks to Corey (Grimdark Dad) for sending me his extra copy!

If you’re looking for a slow-burn fantasy, rich with Indian culture and magic, this is the book for you. The magic system felt unique – as much of it is based on yoga or dance-like movements and very much centered around the spirits of the earth and manipulating them. There’s an emphasis on class structure and social customs which brought a lot of life to the characters.

I don’t have much in the way of criticism for this book. There is a rather large emphasis put on the consummation of marriage that I found off-putting and somewhat awkward. I suppose it made some sense in the terms of the story, but it was such a key role in the events and the way it happened just made me…uncomfortable. It’s hard to describe without going into a lot of detail, but I could have done without it.

Suri does fall prey to The Cliché on page 6 though: Mehr let out a breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding. I know this is a thing people do in real life, but man, will we ever escape the Dreaded Line?

At any rate, I’m excited for more from Suri. I loved the world-building and the characters and I’m hoping we’ll see more of the land she’s created in future books.

Suri’s website

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill
My Edition: Hardcover – 95 pages – 2018 – Oni Press – ISBN: 9781620105290

Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help Lana’s aunt Mae and the residents of the town clean up and rebuild after a bad storm. Lana is missing her mother and glad to be back home. When she finds a small seahorse-like creature injured and trapped in a tide pool, she discovers her aunt’s history with the creatures and others who live beneath the waves. When another storm approaches, Lana fights to save both the town and the sea life it depends on.

I already know O’Neill’s artwork is adorable and pretty much my favorite. If you’re a fan of her style and you like middle-grade fantasy graphic novels with cute creatures, LGBT+ relationships and an emphasis on environmental responsibility, I highly recommend Aquicorn Cove.

O’Neill expertly blends relationships, conflict, mystical creatures and a focus on preserving the planet into a beautifully-drawn, feel-good comic. I especially appreciate the section she added in the back which has more information about coral reefs, how they’re being harmed and how we can stop the damage. I’ve never encountered a graphic novel or comic with information like this before.

O’Neill is definitely an auto-buy author for me now and I can’t wait for more of her work!

O’Neill’s website

Bonus pictures:

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