by Rebecca Roanhorse
Between Earth and Sky #1
I’ve been wanting to read Rebecca Roanhorse’s books for a while now. First when I saw Trail of Lightning, and then when Brigid absolutely raved about Black Sun. This pandemic has been awful on my reading though, and I just got to this one last month – when I had to fly home for my grandfather’s funeral and grabbed this book from the airport bookstore.
I was pretty distraught on the trip, needed the distraction, and my Kindle wasn’t cutting it. So I grabbed this book (and a couple others) and devoured it on my five hour flight home. I couldn’t stop reading.
Black Sun is set in a world inspired by civilizations of Pre-Columbian Americas. I am ecstatic that diverse fantasy stories are being published and shared more widely now. I love fantasy, almost all fantasy is going to be near the top of my reading list, but publishing has typically paid more attention to (and this is true in all publishing) white, European/American stories. But today, I have many choices that I can pick up at many stores – the accessibility increased exponentially. I was absolutely in love with the world from the very beginning.
Speaking of… I should give a warning. This book can get dark, and intense. It starts with a mother scarring her son, making him stare into an eclipse, and sewing his eyelids shut. There is a lot of violence and death. It never felt gratuitous though. It happened, it was there, but it wasn’t page after page after page of detailed description of the atrocities.
Instead, we’re treated to an incredibly detailed world filled with characters you can’t help but want to know more about, characters that you’ll love. I literally could not put this book down as the plot kept pulling me along at breakneck pace. I needed to see what was next, what happened to these characters I’d grown to love.
Serapio and Xiala are my favorites. I absolutely loved them from their first introduction. I also came to love Nara, though she took me a bit longer. In fact, I can’t get to Fevered Star quickly enough to find out what happens next.
I also want to mention the casual diversity in gender – honestly almost genderless culture – throughout the novel. Characters are just who they are. “Xe/xir,” “they,” and third genders are casually mentioned, identified as, and accepted without issue. There’s a character who meets another and says “But now you are a woman,” without judgement, and when she replies “But I was always a woman,” it’s accepted as absolute truth – a real truth that has no alternative.
It’s incredibly refreshing to experience a story, a world, that is so accepting of these characters – whether they’re pansexual, genderless, gender-fluid, non-binary, or anything else that a person can be. They – and we – exist in the world. Except in Rebecca Roanhorse’s world, they are accepted without injury to their souls, without questioning their truths, exactly as they are and always have been.
Black Sun completely immersed me in it’s world, with it’s characters. This is some of the best fantasy out there, and I can’t wait to see where Rebecca Roanhorse takes me next.