*I received an ecopy of this book via Edelweiss. This has not influenced my review.*
This was a unique fantasy book involving twins, possessions, vices, virtues, gods, and unexpected twists, all taking place in an African-based setting. I’m not sure if I should classify it as paranormal/urban fantasy or high fantasy or magical realism or mythology or maybe even metaphysical & visionary since it took place in a land very similar to ours in some ways but very different in others. But whatever it was, it explored some interesting concepts and ideas. However, I did have a few issues, so this seems like a good time for some lists.
– I know it was because of the proximity aspect of the twin bond, how being physically close actually made them feel physically better, but I loved seeing Auben and Kasim holding each other, putting an arm around the other, huddling close in a bed, seeking comfort with each other, etc. without any sense of toxic masculinity.
– I also loved the brother relationship in general and how much Auben loved and cared about Kasim and didn’t want them to drift apart. But they also had their issues, so it wasn’t always a perfect relationship.
– Auben cracked me up sometimes. He was the lesser twin with all the vices and did bad things sometimes, but I couldn’t help but like him. And I loved that, even though he was the more misbehaved and mischievous one, he didn’t fall into any stereotype and was also really smart when he wanted to be and did have some good in him.
– The African-based setting was interesting.
– There were some thought-provoking themes/messages in the end, especially in regards to the vices and virtues.
– My biggest issue was that I was confused about so many things. Almost nothing was explained, you were just supposed to figure it out from context, but this was a completely different world, and I needed more explanation about how the twinning and vices/virtues worked. I was also confused about the world and who was affected by the things that happened. Considering certain things, it stands to reason the whole world should’ve been affected, except it sounded like only two small cities were. I’m not even sure there was a whole world.
– Auben’s romantic feelings jumped around too much to be believable. *MILD SPOILER* He was in a relationship, then all the sudden he was saying he never had real feelings for her and was in love with someone else, then later in the book he was suddenly in love with the first girl. *END SPOILER*
– The writing was kind of matter-of-fact. It took me a bit of getting used to, but I did get used to it and started to enjoy it more as the story went on.
– I felt like the gender stuff in the book might be a bit problematic since, even though there were more than two genders, they were still assigned based on body type, and one character’s pronouns changed when their body type changed. But there was a trans character, and near the end, Auben had a realization that gender is about more than body type.
Despite the confusion, this was not a bad book. I would’ve liked more world-building and explanations, but I thought the story was unique, thought-provoking, and surprising, and other people might easily enjoy it more than I did.
Anyone who likes African settings, twin relationships, and unique stories.