93. THE SALT ROADS, BY NALO HOPKINSON
Recommended by Carlos. Not what I was expecting, and a somewhat unusual book.
Synopsis: Ezili, something like a small goddess, who can travel through space and time, experiences life within the spirits of three women: Mer, a plantation slave in Haiti, Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire’s mistress, and Thais, a prostitute in Alexandria who later became a saint. Their lives are intertwined by their yearning, their fears, and their hopes.
Overall enjoyment: It was a very delicate and sensitive read. I enjoyed it a lot.
Plot: Ezili’s thread, that connects the three stories, isn’t much of a story in itself, but that’s not a bad thing. Rather, it adds some urgency and commentary to the lives of these other women. The only problem I had with the book’s structure is that Thais’ thread is added very late on the book, when Mer’s and Jeanne’s stories are more than halfway through, and that causes a bit of a distancing. I wasn’t ready for a major character to appear then. It kind of makes sense when you consider Ezili’s story by itself, since she ends with Thais, but, like I said, Ezili doesn’t feel like the main character here.
Characters: The three of them are delightful and well developed. They are somewhat similar, but that only puts more emphasis on their differences.
World/setting: It’s quite well made for the three stories. They are helped by the contrast between them, of course, but there is a noticeable change in atmosphere along with the stories.
Writing style: Quite enjoyable and very fluid.
Representation: The three women are dark-skinned, and none of them are straight.
Political correctness: This is basically an ode to the lives of women in difficult situations. It is very poetically done, and very effective.
Up next: The Poison Master, by Liz Williams