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Poison Kiss: 08/07/17
Poison Kiss by Ana Mardoll is the first Earthside book. It's a queer urban fantasy set in Texas. While there is romance and the most adorable polyamorous trio ever, it's mostly about the types of families you make for yourself.
The book opens in a palace where Rose and Lavender are preparing for their mistress's next ball — a multihour ordeal. Im not going do these opening chapters justice. The language is florid, luscious, and filled me with the same sort of world building wonder that the earliest chapters of Lord Valentine's Castle did when I first read it.
That Lavender and Rose would manage to escape to launch the rest of the book was a given. It's how these sorts of stories start. I must admit I went into this book fairly ignorant so when the escape leads to Texas, I was floored (even though I know that the author lives in the state).
It took me about a chapter to reorient myself to expect urban fantasy rather than an epic quest across a fantasy landscape. Like Trailer Park Fae by Lilith Saintcrow, Poison Kiss is about people seeking refuge Earthside from Faeryland. Though they aren't called Changelings, these people who are escaping from the otherside have been changed by magic and their original memories erased.
There are very few books that examine the consequences of being a changeling. I realize I'm being fast and loose with terminology here as changelings are usually the fae that's left behind in the child's place. But these people have been changed. Rose for instance, gives poisoned kisses — made so to be the May Queen's executioner. Then there is Clarent who has a metallic body (and who I pictured as an adult but still metallic Alfonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. Besides the metallic skin, there's a similar gentleness to Clarent.
I really enjoyed the originality of the way magic works and how the faes' kingdoms are structured. So often in these urban fantasy books you get yet another retelling of the eternal battle between the Seelie and the Unseelie Courts. While that might be going on here too, it's not the focus.
Instead the focus is on Rose and Lavender and the other refugees living on the outskirts of this Texas town. It's about Rose learning to accept herself and love herself. It's about Rose, Lavender and Clarent becoming their own family, finding strength together. It's about the extended family of the refugee community.
It also ends on a whopper of a cliffhanger, so of course I will be reading Survival Rout soon.