Tag Archives: #Bigotry

Flynn, Sabrina; A Bitter Draught (Ravenwood Mysteries II) (2015)

I have followed Sabrina Flynn‘s writing since her début novel. It simply does not do her justice to say that her writing has improved immensely. That she happens to throw in important issues as well, is frosting on A Bitter Draught.

Humphrey glanced at the envelope again. Muttering under his breath about redheads and their strange temperaments, he opened the envelope, hoping he wasn’t going to get arrested. It held a neatly folded slip of paper. When he unfolded the slip, a single line of elegant words ran its width. A cold prickle pierced Humphrey’s neck and crawled down his spine, producing a shiver that no San Franciscan wind had yet managed.

And so our story begins. San Francisco around the turn of the 19th century was a hot-bed of racism, corruption and bigotry.

“For murdering a Negro woman? The police all but accused my wife of harlotry.”

Isobel Saavedra Amsel (formerly Kingston), aka Bel, aka Charlotte Bonnie, aka Mr. Morgan is back in town and finds San Francisco unforgiving of people running out of capital. Bel has never been a helpless damsel, waiting for her knight in shining armor, and she aims to solve her emptying purse. The San Francisco Call hints at a solution.

Reporter Charlotte Bonnie gets wind of an unusual death on Ocean Beach. That people die after entering the water at Ocean Beach is in and of itself not interesting. It is a dangerous place to wade. What makes Ms. Bonnie’s detecting muscles stretch is the note in the sand that went with the death of Violet. Clues are given early on and continue throughout the story. Keep your eyes open and brain at attention and you may well solve the mystery before our favorite cross-dresser does.

Mr. Morgan is not alone in his cross-dressing. We also meet our favorite gender fluid and gay side-kick, Loratio, aka Madame de Winter, aka Paris. Since before they ran away to the circus, Bel and Loratio have caused their parents heart problems. Both are wild for their time. People often think of the “Wild West” as wild. And it was. But that wildness was pretty shallow when it came to gender- and sexually-fluid people. Our twins hold many of my favorite moments in this story.

Atticus Riot is both cynical and naïve. Despite his childhood as the son of a crib-whore, he thinks that as long as he does his part in fighting the darker sides of people, justice will prevail. He might also be deemed nuts. Ravenwood has not yet left him and conversations between the two seem a bit one-sided when all people see is Riot. Yet Riot needs both his naivety and his ghost to keep living and helping people. A husband comes to him seeking to understand the death of his wife. They had only been married three months, and the man knew little of her background. San Francisco being San Francisco, Riot warns the husband he may not like the answers he gets. As it turns out, neither does Riot. But the road towards understanding brings him, once again, into contact with Bel.

And Kingston. Will Kingston find out that his dead wife is back in town? Good question.

I loved A Bitter Draught. Yeah. Loved it. Definitely recommended.


My review of From the Ashes (1)

The author gave me a reviewer’s copy of A Bitter Draught

Just because: you-tube clip from 1903 of Ocean Beach w/Cliff House, Copyright: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co.


Wells, Martha: The Gate of Gods (The Fall of Ile-Rien III) (2005)

Saving the world is what heroes do. Tremaine Valiere is such a heroine. With the help of her friends and resurrected father she sets out to kick the Gardier out of her world and the Syprian world.

Sometimes the people we want to save do everything in their power to be destroyed. Falling for the lure of “something for nothing” could be tempting when your world is falling apart around you. Ixion promises much, but will he deliver? Oh, yes. He delivers. What he does deliver might not be what the Ile-Rien had in mind when they took him in from the wrath of Gilead and Ileas. We do stuff like this all the time. Internet and mail scams come to mind. Pyramid schemes. Hedgefunds. Humans must have evolved to be suckers. I love that Martha Wells shows some of the processes leading up to such catastrophic decisions.

Idiots or not, heroines do what heroines have to do. Her father is even more ruthless than Tremaine. Arisilde’s shade is as eccentric as the living person was. Ander is Ander. Gilead keeps on realizing how much of his works as the god’s vessel involves sorcery. Gerard tries to be the father-figure that Nicholas is incapable of. Florian’s abilities are stretched beyond what she thought possible. Even the Gardier prisoner proves an unexpected resource.

As I see it, the story is about Tremaine and her adventures and her ability to accept the world as it is. Just as falling for schemes seems to be part of our genetic make-up so does the inability to see people and situations for what they are. People are complicated. What I am able to observe in others, I am incapable of observing in myself. Lying to myself is no less part of autism than it is part of the lives of non-autists. This is what the societies we grow up in train us to do. Conforming to expectations and popular thinking gets you accepted, but so does not conforming as long as you do it the right way. While Tremain oftene goes against the Ile-Rien thinking on women, she has been inundated with their teachings from childhood. Breaking from the lies of society and her family through independent thinking and admissions of own strengths and flaws is incredibly challenging for Tremaine. But she keeps on trying. I think Martha Wells does an excellent job showing just that in her trilogy.

Definitely recommended.


The Gate of Gods available at Barnes and Noble, Powell’s, Mysterious Galaxy, Books-a-Million, Book Depository.com, Amazon, Amazon UK, IndieBound.

French edition: Amazon.fr

Audio: Tantor Audio

Unofficial Polish translation: Upadek Ile-Rien III: Wrota Bogów

Gilman, Laura Anne: Staying Dead (The Retrievers I) (2006)

Before starting in on a review of the PSI books, I felt the need to revisit the Retriever‘s series’ Staying Dead. Too many books have come between the last time I read it and now. That, and Bonnie, the main character of PSI, has a walk-on in one of the Retriever books.

Staying Dead is a mystery with a dash of current (magic) added in. Well, a lot of current, but it remains mainly a mystery that just happens to be placed in an urban fantasy environment. Theft method is by current and the retriever of that object is also gifted by the ability to use current (electricity both wild and tamed). Lightning is an example of wild current. Tamed is hopefully self-explanatory.

Our main character is Genvieve Taylor. Next in importance is her partner, Sergei Didier. Sergei and Wren “retrieve” lost items. Retrieve is used in its loosest sense in their business. I kind of like it when the a thief is set to catch a thief who has hired a thief to steal from a thief. Maybe this is one crime where there is only one victim – the original one. Or maybe not.

Staying Dead is also very much about racism. Village Pest Removal services ask people to “Let us remove infestations and unwanted visitations”. Wren soon understands that they are talking about removing the fatae from New York. Fantasy and science fiction seem to have become the venue where serious discussions about the impact of racism and all the various forms of bigotry occur. Perhaps that has to do with the opportunity the authors have to create a landscape of humans vs. non-humans.

Our world is filled with racism. Norway is no exception to that. I doubt any country is devoid of it. Here pink in various hues is the majority color. Practically any tone of brown stands out. I admit to be racist. I am also a bigot. Neither fact makes me proud and I do try to keep my mouth shut about some the thoughts that appear in my head. But I have been raised in a faith and several societies that have shared racism as part of their underlying principles (only an explanation – not an excuse). Sergei is that kind of racist. He really tries to control what he says, but he does not trust the otherness of the fatae. Like humans some of the fatae are mean and some of them are kind. Sergei did not understand that until Wren knocked some sense into his head. I needed to understand group processes and exactly what was meant by the term racism and find a way to relate it to myself. Sergei gets to do that as one after the other of the fatae is beaten to a bloody pulp for no other reason than being fatae. Life is like that. Every once in a while something or some person comes along that lets us see people in a new light.

Many books have come between reading Staying Dead for the first time and this time. I am still definitely recommending it.


Staying Dead available on Scribd.com

Race ya.