Tor.com content by

Mary Retta

Francesca Momplaisir’s My Mother’s House Confronts Generational Trauma Head-on

“The House floated in and out of consciousness, waiting to die. It would no longer have to stomach wickedness, deviance, and injustice. It looked forward to Its demolition that would level and free It at long last.”

Francesca Momplaisir’s novel My Mother’s House tells the tale of a sentient home that burns itself to the ground in rage and despair at housing a terrible and abusive man. The dark and unsettling story follows Lucien, who flees his home country of Haiti with his wife, Marie-Ange, and their three children to move to New York City’s South Ozone Park and seek a fresh start. The family then buys a run-down house that they name “La Kay,” or “My Mother’s house,” which becomes a place for fellow Haitian immigrants to find peace, food, and legal assistance. What the family doesn’t know, however, is that all the while the house is watching and passing judgment on all of its inhabitants and is particularly upset at Lucien’s cruel behavior. But after La Kay burns itself to the ground, Lucien’s true evil nature is revealed.

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Francesca Momplaisir’s My Mother’s House Shows the Price Women Must Pay for Freedom

“The House floated in and out of consciousness, waiting to die. It would no longer have to stomach wickedness, deviance, and injustice. It looked forward to Its demolition that would level and free It at long last.”

Francesca Momplaisir’s novel My Mother’s House tells the tale of a sentient home that burns itself to the ground in rage and despair at housing a terrible and abusive man. The dark and unsettling story follows Lucien, who flees his home country of Haiti with his wife, Marie-Ange, and their three children to move to New York City’s South Ozone Park and seek a fresh start. The family then buys a run-down house that they name “La Kay,” or “My Mother’s house,” which becomes a place for fellow Haitian immigrants to find peace, food, and legal assistance. What the family doesn’t know, however, is that all the while the house is watching and passing judgment on all of its inhabitants and is particularly upset at Lucien’s cruel behavior. But after La Kay burns itself to the ground, Lucien’s true evil nature is revealed.

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Veronica Roth’s Chosen Ones Calls on Young People to Save the World

When Veronica Roth was writing her latest book, Chosen Ones, an adult fiction novel following five young people after they save North America from destruction, there’s no way she could have known she would be releasing the book in the middle of a pandemic. But it turns out the best selling author of the Divergent series could not have picked a better time to debut her book. It seems like right now, life is truly imitating art.

Chosen Ones opens ten years after five formerly ordinary teens saved the world from complete chaos descending all over North America. After their act of heroism, the world slowly went from total chaos back to business as usual—for everyone except them. Instead, the protagonists, a ragtag group of former adolescents who have grown into cautious and paranoid adults, become famous for their bravery. The book follows their story when these friends must reunite for another battle against evil, even as they cannot let go of their dark past.

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Ilze Hugo’s The Down Days Gives a Surprisingly Optimistic Twist to the Apocalypse

In a weird way, Ilze Hugo’s debut novel The Down Days feels almost a little too on the nose. The novel, which chronicles an African city which has been quarantined after the outbreak of “the Laughter,” reads as both poignant and haunting in these uncertain times. The book asks questions that we are perhaps scared to ask of ourselves in this moment: What can we hold onto when everything is disappearing? How do we survive when the world we once knew is collapsing around us?

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Devotion and Friendship in Kim Smejkal’s Ink in the Blood

One night, a tattoo appeared around Celia Sand’s ankle while she was sleeping. Awoken by a strange combination of magic and pain, Celia rushed to tell her mothers what had happened. The women were ecstatic, and told Celia the good news: it was finally time for her to serve the Divine.

Ink in the Blood, the debut novel by Vancouver-based author Kim Smejkal, follows Celia Sand and her best friend Anya Burtoni, who are devotees of the magical religion of Profeta. Followers of Profeta, or inklings, are able to use their magic to tattoo other devotees with symbols that represent the will of the Divine, Profeta’s mystical higher power, and all worship together at the beautiful Profeta temple. Being an inkling is considered one of the highest honors a worshipper of Profeta can achieve, and at first the girls are delighted to pursue this calling. But after ten years of servitude, the girls find out a harrowing truth: Profeta is built on lies, the tattoos strip followers of their freedom, and their beautiful temple is actually a torturous prison.

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Things in Jars Is a Deliciously Dark Take on Fantastical Victorian England

“As pale as a grave grub she’s an eyeful.”

So begins Things in Jars, the third novel by beloved Londoner and author Jess Kidd. Just like it’s first sentence, Things in Jars is unique, complex, yet undeniably beautiful. Kidd’s prose is so daring—using stunning imagery and unpredictable, rare language—that I often found myself pausing while reading, taking time to bask in the beauty of a metaphor or pausing to reflect on a rhetorical question. And, like just like the author’s textured prose, Kidd has built a story that is winding, beautiful, and complex.

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