hiya, coven! This week we’re coming at you with a discussion of Nocturna by Maya Motayne. We both loved this book and didn’t realize how complex the world building and magical system were until we came together in conversation (aka we’re both a little befuddled, and that’s fine!). Motayne’s debut novel is full of relatable characters and exquisite writing. Oh, and there’s magical texting and pining. Have we convinced you to put this on your TBR yet?!
Content Warning: this book deals with some heavy topics like emotional and physical abuse, which we discuss at length (although in general terms). Please take this into account when deciding whether to dive into this episode.
Call to action this week is some wisdom from Jessie. “This has been a great weekend! Biden won, and I think people should take some time to celebrate, take some time to rest, and then remember that there is still a lot of work to do. Just because 45 is out, doesn’t mean everything will be perfect. Support the dems in the run off races in GA, check out local politics in your area and aid the causes you believe in in whatever way you can.”
Also, did ya’ll know we have a bookshop.org affiliate page? Probably yes because we mention it on the regular. It’s bookshop.org/shop/thelibrarycoven. Consider checking out our lists and maybe you’ll be inspired to treat yourself to something…and we get a tiny sliver of proceeds! It’s a win-win <3
Onto the show notes!
Full transcript below [PDF transcript Episode 41]
- K croons some of the lyrics to “Despacito” (by Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee) and is disappointed (understatement!) when J doesn’t know the song. De nada for this song being stuck in your head. #sorrynotsorry
- etymology of the Spanish word propio
- Here is an article about OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). K highly recommends both episodes on How to Survive the End of the World podcast featuring Queer Nature (episode 1 and episode 2, which gets into detail about the OODA loop)
Books and other media mentioned in the episode
- Oculta, the sequel to Nocturna, is out mid-December (2020). Sweet!!
- If you enjoyed the visceral and violent action scenes, J recommends several Marvel shows in particular: The Punisher, Daredevil and Jessica Jones. These are available on Netflix.
- Brené Brown has written a lot on shame and you can check out some of the highlights in her 2012 TED talk “Listening to Shame.”
- Sylvia Wynter is a badass writer and philosopher from the Caribbean. K first learned about her formulations of the “Genre of Man” from the article “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation–An Argument” (2003, PDF of Wynter’s article here)
As always, we’d love to be in discussion with you, magical folx. Post or tweet about the show using #criticallyreading. Let us know what you think of the episode, anything we missed, or anything else you want us to know by dropping a line in the comments or reaching out to us on twitter or Instagram (@thelibrarycoven), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also check out the show notes on our website, thelibrarycoven.com.
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The Library Coven is recorded and produced on stolen indigenous land: Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and Ute (Kelly) and Chickasha, Kaskaskia, Kickapoo, Mascoutin, Miami, Mesquaki, Odawa, Ojibwe, Peankashaw, Peoria, Potawatomi, Sauk, and Wea (Jessie)
The Library Coven (a podcast) Episode 41: Nocturna by Maya Motayne
transition [00:00:13] [jaunty harpsichord and flute music plays]
kelly [00:00:14] Hello! And welcome to the Library Coven, a bi-weekly podcast in which to bookish besties discuss mostly YA fantasy through the lens of intersectional feminist criticism. Why? Because critique is our fangirl of language and because talking about books is pretty magical.
jessie [00:00:29] I’m Jessie.
kelly [00:00:30] And I am Kelly.
jessie [00:00:32] And in this episode we’re discussing Nocturna by Maya Motayne. A story set in the magical Latinx (Latin American) inspired world of Castellan, where we meet Finn, A Thief and Changer of Faces, who is making do however she can, and Alfie, a prince, grieving his maybe dead brother and looking for a way to bring him back. Their worlds collide and chaos ensues, as it does [laughs]
kelly [00:00:56] As always happens.
jessie [00:00:58] Yes. Yes
kelly [00:01:00] We want to just give a content warning for some talk about emotional and physical abuse.
transition [00:01:05] [spellcasting sound]
jessie [00:01:09] As a call to action, this has been a really great weekend for a lot of people, Biden won and I think people should take some time to celebrate, take some time to rest, and then remember that there is still a lot of work to do. Just because forty five is out doesn’t mean everything will be perfect. Support the Dems in the runoff races in Georgia. Check out your local politics in your area and aid the causes you believe in in whatever ways are available to you.
transition [00:01:33] [spellcasting sound]
kelly [00:01:37] We want to take a second to shout out our bookshop affiliate page. If you’re looking to buy books, think about shopping from our affiliate page, which just gives a very small proceed percentage of proceeds that don’t go to local bookstores because it goes to us. You can go to bookshop dot org slash shop slash the library coven (bookshop.org/shop/thelibrarycoven), or you can find it at the bottom of the show notes for each episode. And also, hello, welcome, Hey, Deanna, new Patreon member. Thank you for supporting the show. We’re so excited to have you on Discord and yeah, thanks for joining us.
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kelly [00:02:12] initial reactions, Jessie!
jessie [00:02:16] This book really stuck out to me to start with because of the cover. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I don’t have a physical copy of the book. I have the e-book. But still, like, I just love the cover. I didn’t have many expectations at the outset, which I think can be a really good thing because I absolutely loved this book. I think Finn and Alfie were great characters. I loved their banter. I really enjoyed spending time with them both together and apart. Lucca was funny and careing. Finn is such a smart ass and I want to be her friend. And I want to give Alfie a hug. And on top of all that, I really enjoyed the story. The stakes felt high throughout the entire story and it was super fast paced. What about you?
kelly [00:02:54] I was swept up in the story from the very beginning with the cover, like you said, which was the physical copy is like gilded and stuff. It’s so beautiful. And then the world building…woo!… So good. It was just action packed from the beginning. Kept my interest the whole time. I loved the book, like you said, like I hadn’t read any reviews or anything beforehand, which is not always the case with the books that we read for the podcast. Sometimes– I don’t know how this one ended up on our TBR, but we just like picked it. And I’m so glad we did because I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I love the ships. I love the friendship. It’s one of the most fascinating magical systems I’ve encountered in a long time with a lot of, like, new stuff. So, yeah, I’m stoked to talk about it.
transition [00:03:34] [jaunty string music plays]
kelly [00:03:38] Time to talk about world building in through the wardrobe.
jessie [00:03:41] We get a creation story at the beginning that explains where both people and magic come from in that kind of informs the rest of the story. I don’t think we always get like these big creation, like how everything came to be. And a lot of the books we read, I would say Labyrinth Lost [by Zoraida Córdova] is another one where we get kind of like the story of the Deos and in Children of Vengeance and Virtue [by Tomi Adeyemi]. That’s not the first one –Children of Blood and Bone [kelly laughs]. But those stories normally talk about like the creation of the gods and like how they got here. So it was really interesting to see that story also include like where human beings came from. So I really appreciated that. And I thought it was like a cool addition to the story, especially because it was given in the context of like this was Alphie and his brothers, like favorite story growing up. So I thought that was really cool.
kelly [00:04:25] I echo your sentiments completely! Taking in what you said. I really like how the– makes me think of how the book posits people in magic as connected, you know, not like separate entities.
jessie [00:04:38] Mhhmm.
kelly [00:04:38] I also really liked how it was like a bit of a history lesson in the world building. I think that was also like the creation story takes into account, like what actually happened with colonization and things like that.
jessie [00:04:50] Yeah, I assumed that you would like love this part because it’s like almost like paratext, [both laugh] like it wasn’t extra, but it was like in there [both laugh].
transition [00:04:57] [spellcasting sound]
kelly [00:05:02] We spend this novel in San Cristobal, which is a city in the continent of Castellan or the kingdom of Castalian and is a ringed city. So this kind of I mean, I was like visualizing Dante’s Inferno and the Rings of Hell for some reason and how up higher it was just like Stepford Wives, rich people.
jessie [00:05:22] Well, I’ve never read Dante’s Inferno, so I didn’t even think of, like, the rings of Hell. So I like that. That’s cool.
transition [00:05:30] [spellcasting sound]
kelly [00:05:33] We also have a world that’s loosely inspired by irl continents. And at the same time has changed. Same goes for like history, um, and then fictionalized. What did you think about this?
jessie [00:05:45] I actually don’t think I would have minded if the place names weren’t so similar to real place names like Englass. And I’m like like England? [laughs] Or like so like for me, a little bit like that kind of pulls me out when it’s too similar to what the real names of places are. But we’re in this, like, fantasy world.
kelly [00:06:04] Yeah.
jessie [00:06:04] I don’t really I would prefer to have had made up names, but I also understand that this book is written for younger people and they are going to know a lot less history and well, not all of them. Some of them will know a lot less history than I do. So like, I understand why you might want to make those names, like, a little more concrete in the real world. But as an adult, I’m kind of like, oh, could we have picked, like, a different name? [chuckles].
transition [00:06:26] [spellcasting sound]
kelly [00:06:30] Again, there’s a cool map. I especially like the animal details. There’s like an iguana and a possum and a Jaguar. I love the little cartoons and everything that they draw. I love maps. We should post more maps. I keep forgetting to take pictures of maps.
jessie [00:06:44] Yeah, I do so many ebooks that it’s really hard to like, but pictures of the maps are good, but like they’re just not.
kelly [00:06:49] All right. I’ll get on the maps.
jessie [00:06:51] You take some pictures of maps.
kelly [00:06:52] I’ll get on that.
jessie [00:06:52] I will post them. [laughs]
kelly [00:06:53] And then I also am really hoping that we travel to the other places and with the characters in the next book.
jessie [00:06:59] Mmhmm, I don’t know that we will because I actually think I read… the next book is called Oculta and I think they’re back in this in like San Cristobal. So I don’t know if we will travel to new places, but I am excited to read the next book because I just loved all the characters so much.
kelly [00:07:17] Yes. Do we know when the next book comes out?
jessie [00:07:19] It might already be out. Here, let me just do a quick little look see,.
kelly [00:07:23] click click click clickety click.
jessie [00:07:25] Um, let’s see. Well, it only has 19 reviews, so I’m guessing it’s not out yet. Oh, December 15, so it’s pretty soon, um, I think in this one, Fynn. Oh, it does look like it starts out with traveling and then she has to go back to Castellan. Maybe I think she becomes like in charge of like a gang of–
kelly [00:07:49] Nice. nice. Like Kaz!
jessie [00:07:52] Yeah, exactly. So I’m excited to see how that turns out. And plus, I love Finn she’s great.
kelly [00:07:57] Yeah, she is awesome.
jessie [00:07:59] Mm hmm.
transition [00:07:59] [spellcasting sound]
kelly [00:08:03] Another big part of the world building, I thought, besides like the city and stuff with one of the main scenes is in the magical prison, the Clocktower. So I wasn’t really sure where to discuss this, but,.
jessie [00:08:16] Yeah, I guess through the wardrobe makes sense. The prison was a weird place.
kelly [00:08:22] It was very just like latently torture-y. It reminded me of, like, the minute that I that I wrote like prison break exclamation point in the like on the side of my notes. And then I started thinking about, um, was it An Ember in the Ashes [by Sabaa Tahir] or was it the next one?
jessie [00:08:42] The second one? A Torch Against the Night,.
kelly [00:08:45] Yeah, where they had the prison break.
jessie [00:08:47] Mm hmm. I think so, yeah. It kind of reminded me of the prison, like, um. In, A Court of Mist and Fury [by Sarah J Maas], where the prison is a place that people are going to stay forever and it didn’t seem like people got out and it’s like more punishment than like rehabilitative. So that’s what I was thinking, like with the clock tower and like the past, like they can hear the passage of time and that kind of like is meant to be a form of torture for the people in the prison.
kelly [00:09:17] Right. And then they also had a moat of boiling water [jessie chuckles].
jessie [00:09:23] Yes.
kelly [00:09:23] That was Interesting. Reminded me of this comic that I saw. It’s like a. Wizard or something on a therapist’s couch or a king or something on a therapist couch. It is like the most keeps our enemies. Yes, but it also keeps our friends. [both laugh]
jessie [00:09:42] Well, anyway, I’m not commenting on that. [laughs ]Maybe we all need little motes of boiling water around us now to keep us away from other people.
transition [00:09:50] [jaunty string music plays]
jessie & kelly [00:09:57] Wands out!
jessie [00:09:58] Let’s discuss all things magic. As much as I love this book, I feel like I don’t have a firm grasp on the magical system. Am I right in saying they have elemental magic? Like Finn can control stones and Alfie can control water. But then some people also have proprio, which is like a special kind of magic. So Alfie can see and mimic other people’s magic and can travel through space and Finn can change your face. And then Dueños are like extra magical. I was a little confused.
kelly [00:10:28] So let’s go [singing] *pasito a pasito, suave suavecito* anyway, sorry, I just started singing “Despacito” I can’t, I can’t not! So good.
jessie [00:10:36] I don’t know that song. So that’s fine.
kelly [00:10:38] Well now it will be in the show notes because of this recording. [laughs] So yes, there is elemental magic, kind of like Avatar, The Last Airbender style. You got fire, you’ve got water, you’ve got Earth. And then I don’t know air… No there, there were wind people. I remember that. So, yes, you have elemental magic. I’m not sure if everyone has it or if there’s like some non-magical folks. I don’t know. Did you catch on to that?
jessie [00:11:02] No, I wasn’t sure. I think it was, like, confusing to me because, like, some people seem to, like, be able to control. Like maybe everyone has some kind of magic where they can control, like elements. And it seemed like Finn kept talking about, uh, what does she call it, table magic or like desk magic is what Alfie has, because he can do other things. But she also she has like a propio. And I didn’t understand, like, does everyone have that or have the ability to have that?
kelly [00:11:26] I don’t think–.
jessie [00:11:26] like when does that come on. You know?
kelly [00:11:28] Yeah, yeah. I, I just kept like, picking up little tidbits along the way, but I’m like I don’t think I understand it all the way. I know the proprio in Spanish. Do you know what it means?
jessie [00:11:38] nuhuh [no].
kelly [00:11:38] It means it’s like one’s own.
jessie [00:11:40] Oh OK. So like property.
kelly [00:11:42] Like “mi propia casa” is like that’s my own, my own house or whatever. So that is like an individual kind of magic. And it seems like from what they talked about Xiomara and Fynn and Alfie, that all of them got their propios specifically like traumatic times in their young lives.
jessie [00:12:04] Mmhhmm. But we also know that, like, Alfie’s brother got his when he first held Alfie.
kelly [00:12:09] Right.
jessie [00:12:10] So, yeah, it was just like a little confusing to me like whether–
kelly [00:12:12] like big formative moments. And they can be good or bad or whatever or neither. And then that’s when a propio emerges. And then the if you have a propio your shadow like is a tell for having a propio?
jessie [00:12:25] I didn’t know if that shadow was for everyone or if it was only for some people. [laughs].
kelly [00:12:30] Only for some people. only if you have a proprio I think does your shadow move.
jessie [00:12:34] OK.
kelly [00:12:35] Well I mean your shadow moves because you – anyway. Sorry [laughs].
jessie [00:12:38] But moves independently of your body moving.
kelly [00:12:41] Exactly. Exactly. And then the Dueños are these…they seemed like Maesters from Game of Thrones or whatever, you know, they’re just like old people with the institutional clout and knowledge.
jessie [00:12:57] Yeah, I thought of them as like priests, kind of because they came to do like last rites for the dead. But like priests in a world where they’re like that, just no more magic than other people.
kelly [00:13:08] Well, that makes sense that like knowledge and I mean like religious orders and nobility used to be the only people who knew how to read or anything like that.
jessie [00:13:15] Yeah.
kelly [00:13:16] I mean, I think that makes sense, you know, that the exclusion of power from the other people, which is the point you brought up, like Finn’s point about desk magic and so does this other kind of magic. What you like is like the spells that you can say and do, but you have to, like, study how to do that. And I think that’s what Finn was referring to.
jessie [00:13:32] Yeah, I think so. And then, like, Alfie maybe isn’t as good with his– or most nobles aren’t very good with their like elemental magic because like that’s not what they study. So all in all, I really like the magical system because like there is a lot going on. And obviously, like, I’m just like, well, to suspend disbelief, it works somehow. It’s magic. But at the same time, I was like, you know, like I kind of wanted to know more about, like, how it actually worked. But we also didn’t get like a big, huge info dump up other than like the creation story at the beginning, which I kind of appreciated. I just like was wondering more about, like, how this magical system worked. And it was kind of confusing to me.
kelly [00:14:09] And I think maybe like, you know, those little Paloma insets when it would be in Alfie’s point of view and they’d be like in italics or whatever, and he would be remembering something his teacher said, like, it seems like those were moments that was trying to explain the magical system. But I agree with you that it is still a little bit confusing.
jessie [00:14:25] Yeah, I think I just wanted more, which is but it’s also I understand why maybe we did it to kind of avoid both. FYNN Like everyone in the world already knows how the magic works. So it might be kind of hard to bring in a way to tell us how it works without being weird.
kelly [00:14:40] Yeah. And I think that’s like what the point of introducing like we’ll have new characters coming in in the second book. So I think that usually helps, you know, then the reader can also encounter that information.
jessie [00:14:51] For sure.
transition [00:14:51] [spellcasting sound]
jessie [00:14:54] All I could think was like Pandora’s box with the magic coming out, [kelly laughs] like be released. I don’t know what like as soon as I started to throw it down, like Pandora’s box [laughs]
kelly [00:15:03] Totally like this idea of it’s uncontrollable. Once you unleash it, it’s like unstoppable.
jessie [00:15:08] Yeah. And I’m like, “oh, gosh, don’t open the thing, you know, like and there’s like going to be bad!”
kelly [00:15:13] Quite literally. So many red flags. Alfie.
jessie [00:15:15] Yeah. Yeah. And then shadows can show people’s emotions, which really reminded me of Peter Pan and his shadow, like he’s always worried about it, like leaving him or whatever he was like. So it. Yeah. Like Wendy sews back on for him because he thinks he can like rub it on with soap. [both laugh]
jessie [00:15:31] So I really love Peter Pan as a kid growing up and as an adult. I just love Peter Pan. It’s one of my favorite stories so that just like immediately came to mind.
kelly [00:15:40] Totally Totally.
transition [00:15:41] [spellcasting sound]
jessie [00:15:44] Blood magic is just always evil and everything that we ever read and watch. And I just don’t know what that is about, I guess, because it’s like, ah, the source of our life or something, and you shouldn’t let it go or give it to other people. But I would like to see a book where like there like blood magic. Yeah, that’s fine. [laughs]
kelly [00:16:04] Well maybe you gotta write that book. Who knows?
jessie [00:16:06] Yeah. I’m going to get kicked out of like YA fandom or whatever because we’re gonna be like black magic’s bad.[laughs] Maybe I should do some more research into blood magic. I’m sure it does exist. But yeah, it’s always just seen as bad, maybe because there’s like a self harm element to doing that. You know? I don’t know. I just wanted to point out that every book, it’s like blood magic, so much blood magic. And it’s always like you’re going to kill everyone if you do this bad thing with your blood.
transition [00:16:32] [spellcasting sound]
kelly [00:16:35] There’s also lots of magical items. They proliferate in this book. There’s an invisibility cloak, which I thought was cool. I liked that element, the little parchment that sends messages that just kept reminding me of the Rhysand-Feyre note passing seasons. Also God statue questionmark? That’s like dispersed into pieces. But also is that maybe like not a problem anymore?
jessie [00:17:00] What do you mean?
kelly [00:17:01] I don’t know because like they threw it into the void.
jessie [00:17:03] Oh yeah. I think, I think that storyline is like that. I don’t think that we’re going to need to worry about that much anymore. And did Xiomara die at the end?
kelly [00:17:12] Yeah. She threw herself into her own void.
jessie [00:17:14] OK. Oh, yes, yes, yes.
kelly [00:17:15] Well, she also dying so.
jessie [00:17:17] Right. So, like, I don’t think, you know, I can’t remember what Alfie’s brother’s name is,.
kelly [00:17:23] Demsen.
jessie [00:17:23] oh OK. OK, I don’t think they’re going to be able to get him back.
kelly [00:17:27] No, it sounded like Alfie was saying goodbye when he threw the little dragon trinket and stuff and like accepting this was like a big hurdle for his character.
jessie [00:17:35] Yeah. Which either means that his brother will come back and Alfie will be like overjoyed or he’s really dead. So I don’t I’m not going to get my hopes up that–
kelly [00:17:45] or his brother comes back from the void having been changed into something like bad person TM.
jessie [00:17:50] Yeah, yeah.
kelly [00:17:50] And then yeah, for sure. It’s a large fight.
jessie [00:17:54] Yes. And then he’ll have to like kill his brother or something and then it’ll be real bad. [both laugh].
transition [00:17:58] [spellcasting sound]
kelly [00:18:01] There’s also contracts with magical forces. Friends, you’ve got to be careful when you’re making these contracts–.
jessie [00:18:07] Or don’t do it.
kelly [00:18:07] –examine from all angles.
jessie [00:18:10] Ugh, yeah, I feel like you need to be like some kind of genius to be able to make these contracts because you’re just asking for like they’re going to out think they’ve been around for so long. They have they can think through all the possibilities way faster than our little human brains. [both chuckle].
jessie & kelly [00:18:29] Wands away!
transition [00:18:29] [jaunty string music plays]
kelly [00:18:34] Now we’re going to talk about conflict villains and good and evil and other things in our segment, get me Kylo Ren!
jessie [00:18:41] Ignacio, because it’s like always the dads.
kelly [00:18:44] The fuckin dads.
jessie [00:18:45] Just the worst, this character is odd, I think, as like a dad, like a father figure character, because he’s like kind of he has murdered Finn’s parents so that he can have her. So he’s like kind of like her adopted dad, but he’s still just like, terrible.
kelly [00:19:05] Mmhhmm.
jessie [00:19:07] And she’s like worked really hard to get away from him. And of course, like, he finds her and like, you know, it’s very bad.
kelly [00:19:13] He’s definitely like the abusive, possessive, controlling, manipulative, gaslighting stalker subform person.
jessie [00:19:22] And we see, like, he like wants her to be a bad person. Like, that’s kind of his goal is for her to be as bad as he is, but also for him to like have her as if she’s like a trinket instead of a person.
kelly [00:19:35] Mm hmm. People as a means and not ends in themselves. I thought that the passage, the passage, passages.[all with strong “a” midwestern US accent] Oh, my God. [laughs] Where like from Finn’s point of view that were. Describing what happened to her when Ignacio when she is an Ignacio’s presence and what her history with him, I thought those were some of the most terrifying passages that I’d read in a while. I thought that was, I don’t know, super evocative of the kinds of emotions that a person like a survivor of that sort of abuse would be feeling. And so I thought that that was very powerful to have as one of the points of view that you’re getting in the novel.
jessie [00:20:16] Yeah, I think especially as a young person, because Finn didn’t have a lot of options, you know? Like this person has taken her in after like she doesn’t realize that her like he Ignacio had murdered her parents. We see her learn that. But like, she’s kind of like run away and like to see him come up out of nowhere kind of when you’re not expecting it. Yeah, I think those scenes were really well done. And yeah, I just think the author did a good job with this.
kelly [00:20:45] And at the same time, I think that it could have merited a content warning at the beginning of the book.
jessie [00:20:49] Yeah, there was this book was a lot more violent than some of the other books we’ve read. Obviously I didn’t mind, but for a young person, you might kind of like want that at the beginning just so like so that they know what they’re getting into if they don’t want to read that. because it wasn’t just the abuse, but like we see flashbacks of Finn, like murdering people as a child, like of Ignacio, forcing her to do that. Because that’s like kind of his magic is that he can force people to do something once he learns their, like, darkest secret or whatever.
kelly [00:21:19] Which I think segues into another one of the big villains, quote unquote, of the story is this like impulse to control others, which manifests in Ignacio’s propio, as you just explained. He’s like this puppet master and then they’re like in a traveling circus, too. So I thought that this, like all really fit well together. And then and also, like the people who are turned into basically magical zombies who are in fact, when they’re infected by zombies, magic like the the magic wants– is hungry and just wants to control and expand its control. Yeah, and then so this is like the evil or dark or Englassen magic. I thought it was really well done on the author’s part, how it takes on a protagonist role and like the magical force itself as a character. you can just tell that it wants things. Like it itself has motivations.
jessie [00:22:05] It wants things in there for like they have the right to take them [chuckles]
kelly [00:22:09] Right? Yeah. And so that’s like the ethos of this type of power. All of this is also going– reminds me of, you know, what you’re saying about Ignacio’s proprio and he needs to learn their darkest secret and to control people is the like this? It’s essentially shame. He is a shame to control people. And so they you know, I think that I am bad. And this then influences the schemas we have in place and the stories we tell about ourselves. And I tell the book did an amazing job of like surfacing those things in the exposition. And then also this made me think like we’ve got to go head up Brené Brown’s greatest hits about shame and vulnerability and shit like that, it’s he’s got a lot of wisdom.
jessie [00:22:52] I also really like this this element of Ignacio’s magic that he uses like shame to control people like their secret, which equals their shame to control them. Because I do think that’s also like what abusers do in real life. Like they make you feel bad about a particular thing and they use that to control you. Or they do learn your secrets in real life and they use that to control you. So I also think that even without there being a magical element like he has, like this control over Finn and that he has like turned her in this bad person who wanted his love so much that, like, she she did things that she maybe wouldn’t have done. And I do think that kind of like really shows from like the story’s perspective, like how people can get into these, like, um, like abusive kind of relationships and kind of stay in them because, like, the person knows something about you and you think like you’re dirty or whatever, and that’s why you can’t be with someone else or, you know, especially in a parent parental situation like you think like, “well, they have to love me.” And she feels like Ignacio has, like, “chosen” her because he’s like an adoptive parent. And so he’s kind of like holding that over her. So I think the author did a really good job of, like, moving that into magic instead of just like instead of our real world and like making those two things like connect really well.
kelly [00:24:06] Yeah. And just making it so relatable to you, describing how the the cycles of abuse get perpetuated. And it shows it on a physiological level, like what happens when you’re, you know, triggered by something. And then what also happens on the stories you tell about ourselves level, how we talk to ourselves and then also how it influences our other relationships. And what I think is like the really cool part about this book, because it shows Finn being like, “nah, fuck that. Like I got– there’s another way.” And that part is being vulnerable in that part is like actually reaching out for community and for support and letting yourself be seen.
jessie [00:24:42] Yeah, it was really well done. I really appreciated that.
transition [00:24:45] [jaunty string music plays]
jessie [00:24:50] Onward, magical friends! Just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply read fantasy without talking about representations of race, class, gender and ability. This is our segment about power and bodies and how they relate. Let’s start with race.
kelly [00:25:05] I didn’t notice too much about skin color in this novel. Do you remember how the characters were– was-y their skin color is described at all?
jessie [00:25:12] I don’t really remember. Like, it didn’t stand out to me, which probably means they weren’t described. I could be wrong. I did switch back and forth between like the ebook and the audio books. So sometimes if I’m like doing something while I’m listening, I might miss, like, snippets, obviously. But yeah, I don’t remember any descriptions of that except for like eye color.
kelly [00:25:33] There was eye and hair color, I remember, and like body compositions. But it also didn’t seem like that it was doing it in an like an erasure-y way.
jessie [00:25:42] No, just like maybe like they live in the place where there is not much distinction between people, in which case you probably like if a book’s taking place in like Sweden. I kind of have an idea of what everyone looks like and wouldn’t make assumptions otherwise, you know? [laughs]
kelly [00:25:59] And I think it’s like a little bit tricky because it’s this quasi fantasy place that’s semi inspired by like even the continent shapes look a little bit like a real continent shapes, you know, so is it I think this could then play on readers perceptions of what racial makeup is like, you know, so I just want to, like, put that out there.
jessie [00:26:20] Mm hmm.
kelly [00:26:21] On that note, we also, I think, some more about ethnic and cultural differences and also like the impact colonization had on those. Lots to say about coloniality. But we’ll get to that in a sec.
jessie [00:26:31] Yeah, it’s also kind of difficult because Fynn can change the way she looks. And I know at the end she does show Alfie what like the face she was born with. So that was like interesting, but like made it difficult for me to kind of picture what people looked like, I think.
kelly [00:26:47] Yeah.
jessie [00:26:47] Which is I mean, I just make up stuff in my head anyways. [both laugh] That’s what reading is, right?
kelly [00:26:51] Yeah, totally!
jessie [00:26:53] For some reason it made me hard to picture, like what people look like. Like there were a lot of descriptions about like facial features and for some reason that I always have trouble with that, like visualizing those things.
kelly [00:27:02] Mm hmm. And it’s interesting because there is a little bit of a trend now on author websites and book websites to have like cannon artwork of what the characters look like, so I’m curious if that’s yeah, maybe that’s like I’m used to that now or like, you know, used to not having to do the imagining myself. whoops! [laughs].
transition [00:27:19] [spellcasting sound]
kelly [00:27:25] Wanna talk about class?
jessie [00:27:26] Yes! So the whole city is set up and rings escort correspond to class, which I found kind of an interesting way to definitively show, like the markers of class throughout the city, like with the most inner circle being the, like, royalty. And then the farther you get out, which also presumably means the more people in, the farther you get out.
kelly [00:27:50] Yeah.
jessie [00:27:50] The like lower your social class and probably economic class as well.
kelly [00:27:55] Right. There’s like more people and fewer resources the further you get out.
jessie [00:27:59] Mm hmm.
kelly [00:27:59] Which is just like so all sorts of bass fucking ackwards. And I like how Finn called Alfie on that.
jessie [00:28:06] Yeah. Finn is like teaching Alfie some lessons about what it can mean to be a ruler and how he can do better than those who came before him. I particularly liked her comment about treating the city like it’s a piece of shit so that he can be more aware of what’s wrong and make changes instead of treating it like it’s a delicate item to be cherished. I thought that was a good way to look at being in power. You know, like don’t treat things as if they’re already good.You need to actually critically examine the things that are already wrong so that you can make it a better place. I just thought that was like a really good for good for the thoughts.
kelly [00:28:43] Definitely. It is like modeling that you need to be able to really look at what exists and see what is not like what you wish there or not you wish existed. you know, so like not the like whole mythology and history about Castellan “magia para todos” magic for everyone. And then we’re seeing, like, Alfie’s awakening, you know, in the doubts and just it’s yeah, I really loved this book. There’s so much to talk about.
jessie [00:29:10] Yeah. I think there’s a James Baldwin quote about what it means to be American and looking at it like looking at America through the lens of like through a critical lens and like that’s what it means to actually be Black in America. And I just like I really like that kind of came to mind. I was thinking about this. Like, Finn is like, no, you you can’t just, like, follow along with, like what your leader in power is telling you. Like, you need to think about like who is this affecting? Like like you can’t just be patriotic for the sake of being patriotic. That’s not helpful to anyone.
kelly [00:29:42] Right! And you have to look around and actually see what’s going on to the people around you. Yeah, I think it’s also– we were talking about this a little bit in the ones out section, but the magical system is classed. Mm hmm. I think Finn is also jealous of Alfie’s desk magic or whatever she calls it, like the spoken magic that you have to study. Yeah, I just think that it’s important to like “recalcar” is the Spanish word. So what does that mean in English? Like highlight emphasize? That the magical system itself is classed. And I appreciated how this was made explicit in the conversations that Finn and Alfie were having.
jessie [00:30:17] Yeah, they had some really like candid conversations about like the differences in their life and how they’ve grown up and, you know, even their access to resources. And I thought that was really well done in that you kind of see how these two people, like, come together and become friends, but also at the same time recognize that they’re coming from very different places in life.
transition [00:30:36] [spellcasting sound]
kelly [00:30:39] Gender!
jessie [00:30:40] I thought it was really sweet, so Alfie, there’s a scene where Alfie is talking to Aurora, who was betrothed engaged to Alfie’s brother. They’re talking about making their possible marriage decision with Aurora. I guess technically would be like given to Alfie instead of his brother.
kelly [00:30:59] Right.
jessie [00:31:00] Which is terrible that it might not be up to her, obviously, but I was good to see that. Like, Alfie was like, no matter– like this decision is yours. And whatever you want to do, I will help you get what you need out of, you know, out of your life. Basically, he’s like, if you don’t want to marry me, that’s totally fine. But if you do, that’s also fine because, like, you kind of like lost the person you thought you were going to marry. And I want to help you in any way you can. So I just thought that was really sweet of him to, like, recognize that. And no one had to, like, tell him that. Like, Finn didn’t need to point out to him that this is not good.
kelly [00:31:31] Like you need to talk about this person’s feelings.
jessie [00:31:34] Yeah. Yeah. Not and not just that, but that like, if she doesn’t want to be married to him, he’s like, I’ll I’ll figure out a way to, like, get you set up so you can do what you want to do. And I thought that was like really nice and sweet that he recognized that he has the privilege of being able to make that decision.
kelly [00:31:48] Yeah. What you’re saying is making me think about how Alfie is like growth moments were more along his class privilege than they were about like any sort of different gender dynamics, which I thought was curious because it seemed like a quasi patriarchal society with king in charge to princes.
jessie [00:32:07] It’s kind of hard to know when there’s no girls around. [laughs]
kelly [00:32:10] Yeah, for sure. [laughs]
jessie [00:32:12] So, like, I don’t know if Alfie had a sister who was older than him, you know, because that usually is not how it works like it is now in England, but it hasn’t been in the past. So, yeah, it’s kind of hard to know and that when that there’s no option to even see if that’s possible.
kelly [00:32:28] Yeah, yeah. The gender component was really was fascinating to me because it didn’t really seem to fall into regular gender norms necessarily. But at the same time, like you said, we didn’t get that many women characters. Paloma was one of the only other fleshed out ones. But like not even really. I’m not sure if it was like a conscious decision, but I thought a few different times when, like, Ignacio’s slash Sombra’s Magic or whatever was talking was talking about like needing men like to expand to more men. And it seemed to be the default for people. I just wanted to note this. And I mean, there were obviously there were like in scenes, there were women who were like their magic zombies or whatever. But I thought it was it’s curious to note the that, yeah, they are we are talking about mostly men. A lot of the time we’re talking about men.
jessie [00:33:13] Yeah. And I guess maybe that was part of like trying to make it seem like old timey, you know
kelly [00:33:19] Yeah.
jessie [00:33:19] As these fantasies do like of course “men” is used in place of “people.” like we think of like our own constitution or whatever. Or that’s what they actually meant. In this case that’s not but [laughs] But yeah, we do see like zombie ladies as well. [laughs]
kelly [00:33:34] And yeah, Sylvia Wynter is one of the thinkers who– she’s like a Caribbean philosopher and writer and she thinks a lot about how man like a specific version of Man white, cis, powerful, rich, whatever, able bodied, etc. then whatever comes to like stand in for what humanity actually is. And she calls it like “a specific genre of man.” Anyway, just making me think about all sorts of things. I love talking about Sylvia Wynter. Any chance I get!
transition [00:34:05] [spellcasting sound]
jessie [00:34:08] Would you like to talk about coloniality?
kelly [00:34:11] Sure. I think there’s a lot to unpack here and I’m not really sure how to go about it. There’s a centuries long beef between Englassen and Castellan. And so it describes the process of colonization and enslavement in the text itself. And then also this, the uprisings. Yeah, uprisings “Levantamientos” and then like like a reconnection with one’s own language and one’s own culture. And then how afterwards, like, you get a cultural syncretism almost. Yeah. I don’t know. What do you think?
jessie [00:34:41] Yeah, I think we see this a lot. Also, like I think Alfie mentions, like the loss of the language of the people of Kassian, like the language that they had or getting like bits and pieces of it. And a lot of their magic is in Spanish, but it doesn’t always seem like they like– for me, like some some of the words I knew, some of them I didn’t. But sometimes I’m like, oh, that’s a Spanish word for this thing. And they didn’t seem to always know that that was a Spanish word for that thing. So I don’t know if they are treating it like that’s their magical language or if they have, like, gotten pieces of their language back that they use in magic. That part was like a little confusing to me. But yeah, we do see like this mash up of probably kind of like what people think of as America, like where you bring all these cultures together and they like become a new thing, you know?
kelly [00:35:29] Mm hmm. And then we were watching, like, to the extent that this colonial history has actually been dealt with and that we see that it does not preclude the existence of like discrimination and prejudice and class differences within a previously colonized and now decolonial place.
jessie [00:35:47] Yeah, and we also see that like Englassen magic is seen as bad now, but they also, like, kept some of the things from like being Englassen culture, like I’m not sure if there were kings and queens before Englassen came, but they decide– like it looks seems like Alfie’s family is like the the first family to be in charge after colonization. And now they’re the king and queen, you know, like the first of their– the first of their name. [both laugh] So, yeah, it’s kind it’s hard to separate when, I don’t know, like what it was supposed to like, what it had been before. But I do like to see, like, how the effects of colonialism, colonialism has affected the the culture, you know?
kelly [00:36:29] Mmhmm. Totally.
transition [00:36:30] [spellcasting sound]
jessie [00:36:33] Ability, body, mind, etc..
kelly [00:36:35] We have various different kinds of magical impairments, which I found interesting. We have Finn’s blocked proprio so she can’t change her own face. She’s only able to change other people’s features, which that was cool. I didn’t know that she could do that.
jessie [00:36:48] All I could think of was like Arya, you know how she’s like changing faces in Game of Thrones. [kelly laughs] Like that’s all I could think of with Finn.
kelly [00:36:55] Yeah, a girl has no name,.
jessie [00:36:56] Actually. And can I just mention real fast. But like, I this probably goes in gender, but I’m just going to talk about it here really quickly, uh, like Finn’s name, because it’s like a I guess, gender neutral name. Kind of. I kept forgetting, like, who Finn was for some reason. So it’s funny, like kind of to think about like the the gender we put onto names. And I was having that, like, disconnect in my mind sometimes with Finn, which, you know, check my own biases.
kelly [00:37:24] Yeah! And it makes a lot of sense because she also changes her face all the time.
jessie [00:37:28] Mm hmm.
kelly [00:37:28] I think that, like the androgynous name is would totally be like a specific choice on the authors.
jessie [00:37:34] Yeah. I just wanted to throw that out there.
kelly [00:37:36] Yeah, that’s good. That’s great to note for sure. Another kind of magical impairment that we have is the toll that Sombra’s magic takes on Alfie. Another thing we see is disablement on purpose, but instead it’s in order to keep Xiomara and we can assume lots of other prisoners from accessing their magic. So she has been mutilated with her tongue cut out so she can’t speak the desk magic and then also has tattoos on her arms to stop her power, which then made me confused about how she was able to use her power later. Did she, like, scrape the tattoos off of her arms or something?
jessie [00:38:04] Oh, yeah. I didn’t think about that [laughs].
kelly [00:38:07] Anyway. Well, I mean, it doesn’t really matter, but.
jessie [00:38:09] Maybe she doesn’t need to speak to do her magic, which is like also good. Like there are people who cannot speak and that doesn’t mean that they don’t they can’t do or powerful things, you know?
kelly [00:38:20] Right. Yeah.
jessie [00:38:20] So yeah, I appreciate that.
kelly [00:38:23] But it seemed like the tattoos were for that for like a power dampening reason. And I’m glad that she could use her power at the end because that was clutch.
jessie [00:38:31] Yeah. Very important. [laughs] Doesn’t work without her.
kelly [00:38:36] And I guess on this we could call other end of ability disability spectrum like Lucca has super strength and is now invincible. Questionmark.
jessie [00:38:45] I don’t know if he’s invincible, I think that was something about like the deal that Alfie made with the magic to that, like Luca wasn’t allowed to be hurt. And so when Finn used the magic to hurt Luce like it didn’t work. Or like it did hurt him and so that broke the magical contract or whatever,.
kelly [00:39:08] And then thus…
jessie [00:39:10] Healed him? I don’t know. [laughs].
kelly [00:39:12] And then but then made it so that they could, like, put the magic in the place where it needed to go?
jessie [00:39:17] Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
kelly [00:39:17] I’m just a little confused. [laughs].
jessie [00:39:20] It’s funny. I liked this book so much, but now that I’m talking about, I’m like, “wow, I was confused about a lot of things.” [both laugh] The author’s probably like, “suspend your disbelief. You guys. Like it’s not that hard.”.
kelly [00:39:31] Read book 2. Stop being so impatient.
jessie [00:39:34] I know. I mean, it’s literally out in like a month, so I might get that.
kelly [00:39:38] Yep Yep.
jessie [00:39:40] But I also really liked Luca. He was a sweet character, if not, like, annoying sometimes.
kelly [00:39:45] Yeah. He seemed like a comic relief Cassian type figure.
jessie [00:39:48] Yeah. Yeah.
transition [00:39:49] [jaunty string music plays]
kelly [00:39:55] Finally, it’s time for Shipwrecked, a segment about asexuality, sexuality, a sex, romance and relationships, and sometimes we take liberties and do some shipping of our own.
jessie [00:40:05] So our main ship is Finn and Alfie, and I love them and I’m here for it and I just want them to be together. I also really like that they seem to have, like neither of them taking on like a gendered role in the relationship.
kelly [00:40:22] MM! That’s so sexy. Love it.
jessie [00:40:24] I just really liked it.
kelly [00:40:27] Gender is dead mother fuckers!! [laughs] Yeah. Like their conversations, their heartfelt conversations, the pining. I was like, “yes, hold hands! Yes. Talk about your feelings! Yes. Stare longingly at each other!” like [laughs] love this. I love YA for this reason, you know? “Yes. Use his first name and not his title!” Oh my God. I was like give it to me!!!! Totally is like all about it. [laughs] Oh my gosh. It’s just so sweet. And then, like the the sentimental shit, like the part of the end where Finn talks about choosing her own last name and then how that’s the word Alfie uses to do his, like, magical travels. And Alfie’s like, “oh, my gosh, it was fate!” So cute.
jessie [00:41:13] and Finn is like, peace out, bitch. I’m like,.
kelly [00:41:16] I’m gonna go fulfill my own dreams byeeee.
jessie [00:41:19] And he was just like, OK with it. And I was like, wow, this is so sweet.
kelly [00:41:23] And such a good model for young people to have. Like, Yes,.
jessie [00:41:27] I Know. I know. Long distance will be hard in the situation, although I guess like Alfie can like magic some papers so they can like text each other or whatever [both laugh].
kelly [00:41:35] Magical texting. That’s what it is.
jessie [00:41:37] Yeah. It’s just basically– it’s texting but without cell phones.
kelly [00:41:42] I’m glad that we put that together.
jessie [00:41:43] And then there’s the moment when Finn realizes the the relief of sharing a burden and sharing her memories with another person. And I just felt like that was her like falling in love with Alfie because she felt comfortable telling him. And I was just like, this is just so adorable and I love it.
kelly [00:41:59] It’s just like– you’re like, heart’s so full. Oh, my God.
jessie [00:42:03] I guess we should also mention it’s like not in the show notes, but like Luca is obviously queer, he was dating some dude and like Alfie, like came to his rescue to, like, be mean to the guy that broke up with Luca. [kelly laughs] And I really do. I really like Alfie and Luca’s friendship, like they have had their hard times, but like are trying to work through it or whatever. So it was really sweet.
kelly [00:42:26] Yeah. Agreed. So much. Love it. And then also Luca and Finn start getting along which is. I loved that part too.
jessie [00:42:33] Yeah. What does she keep calling him? Oh bath boy. She keeps calling him bathtub boy.
kelly [00:42:37] Because they found him drunk in the bathtub or something?
jessie [00:42:40] Yeah. Yeah. He was like when she was like in that hidden panel in the wall he was like in the bathtub and she was like pretending to be his like servant or whatever.
kelly [00:42:47] that’s right. That’s right.
jessie [00:42:49] Getting to the next panel or whatever.
kelly [00:42:50] [kelly laughs] That was funny.
jessie [00:42:53] And I think she also feels like a little bad that she didn’t do anything to stop the poisoning because, like, it kind of makes it a little bit her fault, like what’s going on, because she could have just like, stopped the poisoning and then Alfie wouldn’t have had to, like, take in the bad magic.
kelly [00:43:07] Yeah, sorry. My dogs are barking. Oh, my God.
jessie [00:43:13] Why am I not a dog person again? [laughs].
transition [00:43:15] [jaunty string music plays]
jessie [00:43:23] Now we’re going to talk about writing style narration, characterization and plot structure and basically whatever else comes to mind in a segment called Kill Your Darlings, I really liked when Alfie described the ebb and flow of morning being like the seasons coming and going. I think it’s just a very good description of what it’s like to lose someone. And, you know, you have good days where you don’t think about it and you have bad days where you can’t think about anything else. And like everything in between, I just thought it was really well, like a very good description, a very apt description of what it’s like to lose someone. And I really appreciated that.
kelly [00:44:00] Yeah. And I think this also extrapolates I’m really glad that you brought this up, because I think it also applies to, you know, different kinds of grief like climate change and, you know, all sorts of systemic injustices and generational trauma and stuff like that. So totally 100 percent.
transition [00:44:18] [spellcasting sound]
kelly [00:44:21] I thought there are really good action scenes in this book. It was more violent. We talked about this a little bit earlier. But I think it’s important to bring up in the section about style because it reminded me more of like Six of Crows or Dread Nation. Whereas a lot of battle scenes, lots of killing, and I was taken a few aback a few times, especially like in the pub scene where there’s just like skating in a rink of blood and there’s like blood dripping from the ceiling and people turn into ash and lots of gore,.
jessie [00:44:50] Which is funny because, again, I didn’t even think about it because of the things that I watch. But this is definitely meant for an older YA audience, definitely not for younger people. I mean, obviously, younger people should read whatever they want. And if they are comfortable reading this, then go ahead. But also, yeah, it was pretty gory and I didn’t expect that from this book. But I mean, it was really well done. And you can kind of like it was very visceral, like.
kelly [00:45:19] Yes.
jessie [00:45:20] Very descriptive descriptions of what it was like to be like covered in blood and all the stuff. I mean, it was really well done. I liked it.
kelly [00:45:31] So good. I love the writing style. Love, love, love the writing style, similes, lots of similes.
jessie [00:45:37] I didn’t notice them, which means they were well done. [laughs]
kelly [00:45:39] Everywhere. They were everywhere. I thought that I very much enjoyed her writing style. And this is a small thing to note, but this is the first YA book with chapter titles that I’ve read in a long time.
jessie [00:45:49] I didn’t even notice them.
kelly [00:45:51] Yeah. [laughs]
jessie [00:45:53] I kind of skip over that kind of thing because I’m like because sometimes I feel like it’s a little spoiler-y.
kelly [00:45:59] Yes, it can. Yeah.
jessie [00:46:01] So I didn’t I don’t remember them. You want me to read you some of them?
jessie [00:46:04] Yes, please.
kelly [00:46:05] OK, one second. Let me grab the book. [laughs] She’s back to the microphone.
jessie [00:46:12] You’re going to have a long, silent moment to take out.
kelly [00:46:17] Oh, it doesn’t have them like there’s no table of contents.
jessie [00:46:21] Oh, I’d go get mine, but it’s so far away.
kelly [00:46:24] There at the top there at the on the top right page, the the Blue Room, the dinner party, the pig, the chest cambio. The Fox and the Dragon. The prince of strutting.
jessie [00:46:40] Oh, now that you say it, I do remember that from the audio book,.
kelly [00:46:42] A Prince and a Thief Walk into a prison. [both laugh]The fireworks. Words carved in wood. In the hands of a god. The ultimatum. The thief, the prince, and the end, it just made me think about how in most of the books that we’ve read for the podcast, we either have numbers or just names for whoever’s POV the chapter is going to be in.
jessie [00:47:04] Mm hmm. Yeah, it’s a different way to do it, I guess.
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jessie [00:47:11] Because we just read Wicked Fox [by Kat Cho] jumping into another third person POV wasn’t as much of a struggle for me. so I just wanted to point that out because I complained about third person POV the last time.
kelly [00:47:21] And you have done in previous episodes beside the Wicked Fox episode.
jessie [00:47:25] Yes, I have quite often. But I think if I read them like back to back then, I kind of am like, oh yes, this is fine. [chuckles] I don’t mind it.
kelly [00:47:34] Yeah. And it is interesting to note that like this genre convention then of like points of view are changing within the chapters themselves after just like a little blank space, like a return.
jessie [00:47:44] jump cut.
kelly [00:47:46] Jump cut.
jessie [00:47:47] Yeah, that’s what it’s called. Jump cut.
kelly [00:47:49] A jump cut. There you go. Publishing terms. Jessie knows.
jessie [00:47:52] Actually that’s from creative writing class.
kelly [00:47:54] Well, creative writing. Jessie also knows that.
jessie [00:47:59] Yeah. Which I don’t mind and is actually kind of cool when you do have, like, the multiple POVs to see it change, like within a chapter. Yeah, I just this was another third person POV. We don’t get a ton of them and if I read them back to back, it’s OK. I think I’ve actually I’ve started Wayward Wtich [by Zoraida Córdova] I’m about halfway through and that’s first person again. So I’m like,.
kelly [00:48:18] That is your element.
jessie [00:48:20] Yeah. And it’s just much easier to jump back into for some reason. I don’t know why. I guess it’s just my preference which is fine.
kelly [00:48:26] Maybe it’s a suspension of disbelief part of it. I don’t know.
jessie [00:48:30] To the third person?
kelly [00:48:31] No the the first person gets you in and so you’re able to suspend? I don’t know. I’m just–
jessie [00:48:36] Yeah. And you kind of get into the character’s head a little more. So I feel like some of the things that were confusing to me and like this book are a little harder to create confusion for in first person. Like, I feel like it would be easier to like do you like kind of an info dump of explaining the magical system in first person. Whereas it’s a little more difficult to do that in third person because it’s from the narrator instead of like a person thinking it. So,.
kelly [00:48:58] Yeah, very true. Or you have to like, link it in there somehow.
jessie [00:49:03] Mm hmm. And I think that can be difficult to do.
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kelly [00:49:11] Recommend, if you like.
jessie [00:49:14] I would say An Ember in the Ashes for fast paced and enemies to lovers-esque, I wouldn’t say that Finn and Alfie are like super enemies, but like they’re kind of enemies.
kelly [00:49:25] Also, I would say it reminds me of Daevabad, the Daevabad books by SA Chakraborty.
jessie [00:49:31] Mm hmm. It’s very gruesome, this book. So maybe if you like this book, you’ll also like The Punisher, the Marvel TV show, which is one of my favorites, but it’s very violent. So some people don’t really like it, I guess any of those. Actually, there are some bad ones, but maybe also Daredevil is kind of similar to that. Like really good action scenes in Daredevil. And Probably Jessica Jones, but I think The Punisher and that and Daredevil have like the best action scenes, best fight scenes. So watch those on Netflix.
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jessie [00:50:08] Before we end, it’s time for real talk. Did reading this book make your perspective change in any way, or did it make you interrogate a concept system or trend that you hadn’t before? I like Alphie realizing Finn is right, that we– we’re still ourselves, even at our worst. That our actions when we’re angry, can still say something about who we are as people. And sometimes even more about who we are as people. I don’t know. I just really appreciated that because I think sometimes people try and take it out like, “oh, I was angry. So, like, that’s not who I really am.” But I do think, like, those actions speak to who we are fundamentally. So I just really appreciated that.
kelly [00:50:49] Totally. We have to integrate all of our emotions.
jessie [00:50:51] Mm hmm.
kelly [00:50:52] Something that this book made me think about was freedom as a relationship and like a state of being and a practice rather than a place or any other kind of identity. So I liked that little tidbit and that made me, you know, consider like what are the practices that make us free all the time, you know, so we’re not just thinking about voting every four years.
jessie [00:51:15] Mm hmm.
kelly [00:51:16] Womp. No. You know, it’s like how are we actually in community with each other? And I’ve been reading some shit. shout out to my brother for getting me this language of emotions booked for Christmas last year. [laughs] So this book talks about fear and anger, working as a team and so anger about like being able to set boundaries and then fear as like if it’s free flowing and not repressed and everything, that it’s one of those things that connects us to like intuition and protective action, like in a moment, like when you’re super adrenalized or whatever. And this reminded me of the OODA loop. Which is like something that some Air Force, whatever person made up, but I listen to this cool episode on How to survive the End of the World podcast with these people behind the initiative called Queer Nature. And they talk about what the U2 loop is and its stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and act. And I think there are just so many moments of pause, you know, where we see them reevaluating about what to do with their plan. And we see Fynn maybe being caught up and not being able to access, you know, the parts of her that let her orient herself or be able to decide and then take action. So, I don’t know. This is this just coming up for me? I’ll include some resources in the show, notes about this stuff if people are curious.
jessie [00:52:30] Sounds cool.
transition [00:52:31] [jaunty string music plays]
kelly [00:52:36] Thanks for listening to The Library Coven! We’ll be back in two weeks for a discussion of Wayward Witch by Zoraida Cordova, the third and last book in the Brooklyn Brujas series, maybe last. We don’t know. As always, we’d love to be in conversation with you magical folks. Let us know what you think of the episode. Anything we missed or just say hi by dropping a line in the comments or by reaching out to us on Twitter or Instagram @thelibrarycoven. You can post or tweet about the show using the #CriticallyReading and #TheLibraryCoven. And you can contact us via email at thelibrarycoven at Gmail dot com.
jessie [00:53:08] You can subscribe to the library coven on the podcast app of your choice, and we really appreciate it if you would rate and review the show and spread the word to other rad people out there. if you’re able to support our labor financially, you can make a one time donation to us on Ko-fi. You can also support us monthly on Patreon in exchange for many bonus swag and more. And you can support the show by shopping at our bookshop.org affiliate page.
kelly [00:53:33] Kelly is recording on Cheyenne, ute and Arapaho Land, Jesse is recording on Peoria, Kaskaskia, Peankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mouscotin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Pottawatomie, Ojibwe and Chickasaw Land. Until next time, stay maigical!