It’s no secret that I admire Roxane Gay for her ability to write (An Untamed State broke me, and Bad Feminist was at turns funny, raw, and made me be so reflective it hurt to think). Her new collection of short stories out today, Difficult Women, shares the story of women—women too strong for life, who keep secrets, who give too much of themselves or choose to keep enough of themselves sacred and untouchable. It tells the story of women as we are—not how other people wish we would be.
In Melissa Grey’s The Shadow Hour, Echo is a different person. This is to be expected after the events of The Girl at Midnight, which I discussed my love for here. But there was more to it than just a physical/metaphysical transformation. No, in this book, Echo has learned and done so much more than she wanted to.
The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway was a lovely book. In it, Callaway manipulates the history of Virginia Lynch (whom she remakes into Virginia—Ginny—Loftin), and weaves a story as heartfelt as the novel Ginny writes, The Web.
In Juliette Fay’s The Tumbling Turner Sisters, Gert and Winnie Turner narrate the tragedies and triumphs of their lives, and everything in between. Fay’s gorgeous prose lends itself to this touching story of the four Turner girls, their mother Ethel and father Frank, and the extended family they acquire as they take the stage during the vaudeville era.
In Nina Berkhout’s The Gallery of Lost Species, Edith Walker comes of age in the shadow of her older sister, Vivienne (Viv). Viv, whom Edith always characterizes as more talented and more beautiful, was trotted around to beauty pageants by their mother Constance, while Henry, their painter and artist father, encouraged the artistic tendencies in both of the young girls. In addition to being a pageant beauty, Viv was also an accomplished artist and painter, and Edith always felt as though her gift for collecting and categorizing items paled in the shadow of Viv’s talent.
In this fantastical re-imagining of Russian history, Evelyn Skye places two potential Imperial Enchanters, Nikolai and Vika. Mentored from childhood, both magicians must now compete in The Crown’s Game, and find out who will become the Tsar’s Enchanter, and who will lose more than just the game.