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Fantastic Creatures Make Me Feel Uncomfortable

My honest review of Alice Godwin’s Slipstream

I was a bit torn before I accepted to read and review Slipstream from Alice Godwin. On one hand, there was my usual curiosity when it comes to read stories from authors outside the mainstream. On the other hand, the book smelled like fantasy, a genre I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about.

Which is a strange thing to say for a self-proclaimed wannabe urban fantasy writer, I know, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the genre, intended as canonical fantasy with elves, fairies and unicorns. I’m totally fine with magic, time travel, and multiple dimensions because of the paradoxes they create, but I don’t feel comfortable around fantastic creatures.

Still, the premise showed something more than just that, and it delivered it right away: in the first few pages of the book, a woman is brutally murdered, and her child is taken away. Then the story jumps sixteen years ahead, and we finally know what happened to that child. She’s grown up and she lives in a post-pandemic world and, as the majority of people on Earth, she does her best to just survive. Her name is Raven.

She has a gift, though: she can travel to a state of higher consciousness, where there’s no electromagnetic humming to disturb her and she can find some peace. And here in this suspended place she meets Ceriful, an ethereal and ambiguous figure. Sure enough, there will be trouble, a lot of it, but it’s not my place to spoil the book for you.

As Raven’ story goes on, several flashback give the reader more information about the past and slowly but steady everything comes together, one piece after the other. I liked how the information was released in bits across all these flashbacks and it ended up meshing together with the main storyline, even though I found that there was too much exposition at times.

When I got to the end and realised it was supposed to have at least a sequel, I felt satisfied and let down at the same time. It let me down because the story had just begun to really intrigue me after its long setup and I was so curious to know more that it was almost painful to let go. But I also felt satisfied because I’m sure such a complicated situation as the one we got at the end deserve at least another full-length novel to be solved.

In a certain sense, Slipstream confirmed the biases I have towards YA fantasy tropes and style, because it took a while for me to care about the characters and have the story get under my skin. But then it got there, and I couldn’t put it down anymore.

It did a good job of introducing its own world and its multi-faceted characters, leaving the reader craving for answers about what it’s going to be. Is Raven’s choice a final one? Which consequences will it have for both the worlds she lives in? And who murdered her mum, and why?

As you can see, so many questions to be answered. If you are a YA fantasy reader you’ll devour Slipstream and you’ll be captured by its unique story and the themes it tackles. And I’m sure it’s going to leave every fantasy fan out there holding their breath until the next book comes out with some answers.

Published inReviewsStorytelling

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