The Book of the Unnamed Midwife–recommendation

Recently, I read The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, and its sequel, The Book of Etta, by Meg Ellison and was so impressed that I wanted to recommend these two outstanding books to those of you who love dystopian/postapocalyptic fiction, and strong female characters. Ms. Elison’s writing is convincing, conveys a strong sense of place and time, and portrays realistic characters, both good and bad, dealing with a changed world. These two books are the author’s first, but I hope not her last.

The following 2 editorial reviews were taken from Publishers Weekly:

Re The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere 1):

“Elison’s gripping and grim first novel, which won the Philip K. Dick award in its previous small press publication, tells the story of an unnamed woman who survives a plague that wipes out most of humankind in just weeks, leaving 10 male survivors for every woman. The story is beautifully written in a stripped down, understated way, though frequently gruesome in its depiction of rapes, murders, and still births. The protagonist, who sometimes calls herself Karen, or Dusty, or Jane, is beautifully realized as a middle-aged, bisexual woman with considerable skills, an indomitable will, and great adaptability, though she suffers considerably and is far from superwoman. A prologue and an epilogue set long after the events of the main narrative (and reminiscent of the concluding chapter of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid ’s Tale) hint at a positive future, leaving the reader with a glimmer of optimism in the midst of despair.”

Re The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere 2):

“In this gritty sequel to her Philip K. Dick Award-winning The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, Elison returns to her postapocalyptic American Midwest milieu, but far in the future, when the midwife protagonist of the first novel is largely a legend. The plague that destroyed human civilization lingers, killing women in childbirth, fetuses in the womb, and newborns. Far more boys survive than girls. The various pocket communities that have survived have found their own ways of coping with the gender imbalance. In matriarchal Nowhere, women collect men into “hives.” In nearby Jeff City, castrati live as women, giving the illusion of gender balance. In Estiel, formerly St. Louis, a monstrous dictator known as the Lion raids other communities for their women and girls. Etta—or Eddy, as he calls himself outside the confines of Nowhere—is a young transgender man who can’t find a place for himself in a world where people with wombs are classified as either baby-making machines or midwives. He’s a wanderer and explorer by nature and has no interest in any other role. Elison continues to startle her readers with unexpected gender permutations and fascinating relationships worked out in front of a convincingly detailed landscape.”

Gender issues aside, these two books are engrossing reads. To me, the protagonists’ sexual orientations are only a small part of Elison’s two novels, and have little bearing on what makes them great stories. I highly recommend reading both, though each can stand alone. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a third Road to Nowhere.

You can keep up to date on Ms. Elison at her website at: www.megelison.com.

Click on the covers to view or buy on Amazon.

Selkie

Selkie by Zirasharia

Selkie by Zirasharia

Writing a book review is not–no where, no how–in my bag of magic tricks. But the idea behind this tale is such an unusual and intriguing one that I felt compelled to share my mediocre review of this fine novel here. Please bear with me…

I had never heard of a Selkie until I read Julia Lund’s novel aptly titled Selkie, but then I’m not familiar with Scottish folklore. For those of you who don’t know what a Selkie is, it’s a creature that has the form of a seal, but can also take on a human form.
And so the story begins…
Sixteen-year-old Sam Harris, along with her mom and younger brother, move to the Scottish coast for a new start after their father/husband abandons the family. Sam’s mother has taken a job caring for the elderly Miss McCulloch who abides in a house overlooking a magical cove. And it is on the rocky cliffs above this cove where Sam meets the enigmatic Seb, a young man who will have a profound impact on her life.
Selkie is a bittersweet coming of age story, but much more. Mystery haunts the cliffs and cove. Sam sees things others don’t, and exploring this mystery costs Sam dearly.

I highly recommend this book. It moves along at a brisk pace, raising questions that keeps the reader guessing until–
image Well…you’ll just have to find that out for yourself.

You can purchase Julia Lund’s book on Amazon.
Click here to buy in the US,
here for the UK.

Something New In My Treasure Chest

 

The FedEx man dropped it outside my front door and rang the bell on Monday. If I’d known what it was–it arrived a day early–I would have dragged myself out of my sickbed and crawled to the door and somehow managed to reach the knob, crack open the door a bit, and drag my treasure inside. As it was, kind Husband was around and retrieved it for me. He even went so far as to open the box and place it in my greedy, little hands. Continue reading