Are There Lesbians? Yes
When Tannin’s grandfather dies she is left to deal with his not-inconsiderable debt. Forcibly thrown into a cut-throat world of thievery and intrigue, the last things Tannin expects to have to deal with are wayward princesses and half-forgotten fairy stories. But as she goes looking for answers in her grandfather’s old journal, Tannin finds that there is a lot more to her, and to the mysteries surrounding her, than she ever thought possible.
CW lots of murder, hanging
I’m going to start simply by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has been quite a while since I’ve been sent an ARC for review and I was more than a little nervous, as the last few I read were enough to make me stop reading ARCs. Lockdown settled around Sydney like a plague-blanket as I started this, so it was a good thing I had a new fantasy world to bury myself in for a while.
And what a world! I would hazard that there are very few fantasy novels out there that are based around Scotland itself, which Remnants of Blood predominantly is. Most fantasy novels I’ve come across in my time have tended to focus on a quasi-Great British society, with an emphasis on England, and maybe a shoe-in mention of some vikings or “wild northerners”. And The Five Kingdoms are very obviously reminiscent of Scotland. This is predominantly evident in the thick accents several of the characters support – much to my glee – and the gaelic holidays observed throughout the story. Being an ARC my copy didn’t have a pronunciation guide although I have been assured that this will feature in the final copy. Luckily I didn’t need it too often, but there were a few words that tripped me up and I’m certain I wasn’t the only one, so I’m sure that guide is going to get a real beating.
For a story with a blurb that leads with mentioning the Fair Folk, I expected there to be quite a few more actual fae in the world, something more akin to the writings of Holly Black or Cecilia Dart-Thornton. However I was pleasantly surprised to be absorbed into a world where the fae are considered almost as much a myth as they are in our own, with a few exceptions. From what is told of the fae throughout the novel, they are quite dissimilar to most representations, for example, kelpies are mentioned as being the fae of the waterways, rather than specifically being beautiful horses who will drown and eat a man (or woman, or enby, I doubt they’re picky). One thing I did find a little confusing was working out whether or not wargs were outright fae or remnants or their own thing entirely, but I didn’t really let it bother me, and if I read through the novel again I will probably find my answer. I found the way magical beings were approached really interesting and I think it served the novel well. By removing the fae themselves from the equation, we are free to focus our attention on their half-human offspring, the titular “remnants”, and their place in the world. The secret society of the Triquetra is referenced throughout the book, and although their threat to Remnants suffuses the background of the novel, it never quite comes to light. Judging from the ending of Remnants of Blood, this is the first of a series, so I expect that the Triquetra will take on the role of primary antagonist later on.
The main antagonist of this novel appears to mainly be Tannin herself, as she stumbles from bad decision to black-out and back again, and I love her for it. Honestly, I think it’s been a while since I’ve read such a relatable main character, and I couldn’t help but cheer for Tannin in the face of every terrible decision she made, because haven’t we all made more than a few bad choices in our lives, especially when a pretty girl is involved. If you’re looking for a fantasy story with a really hopeless lesbian in it, Remnants of Blood will be your jam because Tannin is emphatically both of those things.
I received an ARC of Remnants of Blood from the author in exchange for an honest review. Remnants of Blood is available in paperback and kindle formats and is currently available for preorder. It is due to be published on 14 September.