Behold the Many

I was first introduced to Lois-Ann Yamanaka through Blu’s Hanging (1997). So, I thought I was prepared for the series of heartbreaks that ensue from her seventh novel, Behold the Many (2006). I was wrong. The opening scene, alone, reveals how sexual and racial traumas carved onto a young woman’s body are also manifest in the landscape…

The Black Isle

Sandi Tan’s debut, The Black Isle (2012), is a dark and wild coming-of-age story that left me wide awake after finishing it late in the night. The novel is part-horror and part-historical fiction that spans 480 pages. The protagonist, Cassandra, is gifted (or cursed) with the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. She is…

Shadowshaper

In Daniel José Older’s YA fantasy novel Shadowshaper, Brooklyn, New York comes alive as a character more than just a mere backdrop. Older is a former EMT, who has been riding the ambulance through the streets of New York for eight years. In various interviews, he has mentioned how influential his experience as a paramedic has been…

The Smoking Mirror

Aztec god Tezcatlipoca’s name roughly translates to “smoking mirror,” which refers to the mirrors made in obsidian that were used for rituals. This summer, I read two books that offer very different versions of this deity: David Bowles’s middle grade fantasy novel The Smoking Mirror (2015) and Ernest Hogan’s science fiction novel The Smoking Mirror Blues (2001),…

Country of Origin

Set in 1980s Tokyo, Don Lee’s Country of Origin is a detective novel that brings together a troupe of characters who are all half-heartedly searching for something or someone. Tom Hurley, a Junior Officer at the American Embassy in Tokyo, receives a call from Susan Countryman, who has not heard from her sister in a month. Her sister,…

Labyrinth Lost

Labyrinth Lost is the first installment in Zoraida Cordova’s Brooklyn Brujas series. I was very excited by the premise of this book and was glad that it did not disappoint. The protagonist of this series is Alejandra Mortiz, a fifteen-year-old Latina who lives in Brooklyn. And, she comes from a long line of brujas and…

The Book of M

I can’t exactly remember why. But when I was a kid, I used to say that the scariest thing in the world was losing memories of the ones you love. I don’t think I quite understood loss back then. Still, my answer would be the same today. The apocalyptic near future depicted in Peng Shepherd’s…