THE HOUSE OF DISCARDED DREAMS, BY EKATERINA SEDIA
This one was recommended to me by a friend who is very into Magical Realism. I'm not sure what that means, to be honest, but I guess it would be something like Urban Fantasy with a blasé outlook. Weird shit happens and everybody is really cool about it.
Synopsis: Vimbai is the American daughter of Zimbabwean immigrants. She moves to a house in the dunes, trying to escape her mother, and ends up in a weird universe in the middle of the ocean, along with the ghost of her grandmother, a psychic energy baby, a best friend who has a pack of dog-like creatures, a boy whose hair is an entrance to an alien dimension and her own army of horseshoe crabs.
Overall enjoyment: It was weird, but I liked it. It took a while for the story to get started, it only really gets going on the second half of the book. The first half is more background information and kind of a philosophical trip into weirdness. Still, I am quite fond of philosophical trips into weirdness, so it was fine by me.
Plot: Like I said, it takes a while to get started. But I think she did it so the weirdness would creep up on you and you would be almost expecting it, instead of surprised by it.
Characters: I thought they were quite interesting. Vimbai is clearly the center of the narrative, so she's the most well-developed, but all the others still get their share of depth.
World/setting: It was really interesting, and quite fresh. The mythical background she uses for this is based on African folktales, and I'm sadly very ignorant on those (although I'm trying to rectify this). There are also many elements she made up herself and they blend in beautifully with the atmosphere.
Writing style: It was, maybe, too blasé for me. She's so commonplace and unimpressed by all the magic going on in the story. Maybe that was the effect she was going for, but I, personally, would have preferred a bit more wonder... Then again, it's just my personal preference.
Representation: The only white character is Fisk, and he's not even fully human. Vimbai and Maya are both black and queer.
Political correctness: The entire story is a magical metaphor for black and white conflict. Both in Africa, with Imperialism, and in America, with prejudice and racism. There is also some discussion of queerness, with Vimbai being attracted to girls but choking her own sexuality down so firmly that she herself sometimes wonders if she would also be attracted to boys if she ever tried to find out.
This book would be a really nice one to read during a lazy, rainy afternoon. It has very interesting and dense content presented in a beautiful and easy to consume package.
Up next: Deeper Than the Dead, by Tami Hoag