Stories don’t always need to be long to hit home and the following two “books” (they’re more like a novella and a short story, but let’s not stress the details) once again proved that to me. I’m so happy that I started out my year with them and will happily share a brief review for both with you.
*links to Goodreads and Storygraph will be provided after the ratings!*
The Deep by Solomon Rivers with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes
Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.
Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.
Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.
Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future,” The Deep is vividly original and uniquely affecting.
Don’t let the low page count fool you with this one, because it sure holds a lot. While reading, I always felt the weight the characters had to carry and really took my time reading to process what was going on. All those memories, all that shared pain and trauma, but also the beauty that came in community and wanting to share the load. The Deep took me on a journey that I don’t think I will forget soon.
“What is belonging?” we ask. She says, “Where loneliness ends.”
From the setting to the characters, I can’t say I’ve quite read anything like it (despite how I came about finding this book, which I will explain below). It took me a bit to really understand what was going on and to accept some unfamiliar components, but it was a masterclass in making you invested and feel deeply connected. I was sad, joyful, infuriated, bewildered, moved, lonely and found along with Yetu’s people.
Lastly, I want to give a shoutout to Olivia’s Catastrophe on YT. She made a video recommending books by black authors based on other stories you might have liked. She compared The Deep to The Giver, but mentioned that this was for a more mature audience, which I would agree with. You can check out her full video HERE!
Hint: The audiobook version of The Deep is actually narrated by Daveed Diggs!
Page Count: 170
Content Warnings: trauma, slavery, hate crimes
Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! Quite heavy, yet beautiful!
The Six Deaths of the Saint by Alix E. Harrow
The Saint of War spares the life of a servant girl so she can fulfill her destiny as the kingdom’s greatest warrior in this short story of love and loyalty by New York Times bestselling author Alix E. Harrow.
Always mindful of the debt she owes, the girl finds her worth as a weapon in the hand of the Prince. Her victories make him a king, then an emperor. The bards sing her name and her enemies fear it. But the war never ends and the cost keeps rising—how many times will she repeat her own story?
The Six Deaths of the Saint is part #3 in the “Into Shadow“-Anthology. You DO NOT have to read any of the other stories to read this one. They’re not connected!
Last week or so, my entire Twitter feed just EXPLODED with tweets about this book and THEY WERE SO RIGHT! The all caps may seem overly dramatic but there’s not a single thing that I didn’t enjoy. 30 pages. JUST 30 pages and I was out here sobbing like a baby.
I want to say more, I want to scream about this short story from the rooftops, but it also very much feels like something you should just go into knowing as little as possible? I didn’t have the slightest idea what The Six Deaths of the Saint was even about, I jut knew that many of my bookish friends suddenly couldn’t stop raving about it. Please, join us in our cult of the Saint of War … thank you very much.
I very much do realize that this was my worst review to date, but I’m not even sorry. JUST READ IT!
If you need something to compare it to, I would say that it felt most close to The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo.
Page Count: 30
Content Warnings: a lot of death really
Fazit: 5/5 stars! I’m trying not to exaggerate, but it really is the best thing I’ve read this year so far.