This isn’t a book I would generally choose for myself to read, but that’s what is fun about subscription services like the Night Worms box. I don’t know what I’m going to get, but I know the books are carefully curated and I can trust that it’s going to be an interesting ride.
A tale set during prohibition following a badass bootlegging boatwoman and a society girl with a penchant for disturbing the peace, there is a lot to like in the set-up of this book. The main characters are women with dreams, who aren’t afraid to articulate and act on their desire, who are working through their issues and railing against a world and society that would prefer they just fit in rather than mix things up. It is a lot of fun to see them turn expectations upside down and be the heroes instead of some dude stepping in to save the day.
The book is very interested in place: what it means to live in a specific place, love that place, and feel a part of the community—or not. What does it mean to be a part of where you live? What if you live on the outskirts of society, if you don’t fit in? And what happens when the place you live is threatened?
It is also at its core a story of bigotry, and through the lens of history and fantasy takes a look at how prejudice and intolerance can prey on a small town and the people who live there. Heartbreaking but realistic, and it is so especially relevant right now.
I never quite connected with the writing style of the book, which seemed to hold me at a distance from getting fully into the story. There was a tendency to tell instead of show, which often made me feel like I was having my hand held through the story, like I needed an info-dump or I wouldn’t understand what was going on. I was also confused by this strange narrative repetition that kept happening, where a character would repeat what had happened to them to multiple new characters entering the scene even though the reader already knew what happened—it felt so unnecessary. There are also several characters who seem only there to provide a specific purpose for the narrative rather than acting as a living, breathing part of the story, and they definitely stuck out to me.
I really wanted to love this book because the themes and characters were so badass. But in the end, it was just an average read for me, which is definitely based in part because it didn’t leave me feeling anything special.
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.