Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood

November 30, 2009

Amanda Downum – The Drowning City

Filed under: review — Tags: , , , , — Sam @ 2:28 pm

This was a chance discovery at the library. Let me just take a moment to explain why my local library FAILS at shelving. They’ve very carefully taken all the SF and fantasy books (a task made easier by the fact that they all have “SF” classmarks on the spine) and sorted them in alphabetically with other fiction. Crime (detective, police procedural, &c.) still has its own section; so do YA and black fiction. In all three of those sections, there are SF books. I’m not philosophically enamoured of sorting books by genre, but I do strongly prefer to have them sorted by likeness, and publishing-genre gives a good first-pass model for that. Also, the less time I have to spend wading through third-class chick lit[1] and “auto”-biographies of pop singers or models, the better.

Anyway, the book! Haven’t got it in front of me any longer, so this will be fairly brief.

The environment is basically South Asian in inspiration, but the heroine has travelled from a European-ish country. Downum doesn’t shy away from either skin colours or colonialism, and does a good job of depicting tensions between races[2] & nationalities. The magic system is well thought out and interesting.

Oddly, the author Downum reminds me of most is Tamora Pierce (I’m thinking particularly of Wolf-Speaker and Trickster’s Choice), but this is definitely not YA.

[1] I’ll happily read first-class chick lit. But it’s too rare for me to want to look through it deliberately.

[2] Actual races, not this dwarves-and-elves shite.

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