I really wanted to write a review of A Blade so Black. Mainly because I'm a huge Slayer fan (Angel before Buffy but that's neither here nor there) but not a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. Needless curiosity got me. Verdict?
The Disasters is a laugh out loud mash-up of characters so diverse that even when you think you know where they lie on the spectrum of diversity, two chapters later you realize they have a multi-cultural and sexual orientation chasm going on in one character. Meanwhile I don't remember any of this being mentioned in the promotion for the book, nor the overriding Middle-Eastern themes. Well done on the England and HarperTeen's part to let that be a surprise welcome. This book is being promoted on the the plot, characters and overall fun to be had. Oh and the dedication, which I love. To everyone who's ever felt like a disaster. Here, have a spaceship! Now fly.
Warnings (mentioned by author in book): Mental illness (bipolar), blood use in magic, gun violence, war, colonialism, racism, descriptions of dead bodies, mention of reproductive coercion, mentions of torture, mention of suicide Heidi Heilig has created a piece of art that is multi-faceted in characters, writing structures and plot points. Within this she has interwoven an own voice struggle as a bipolar woman through the main character, Jetta, who simply refers to it as her malheur, the french word for misfortune. Heilig discusses writing a bipolar heroine at the end of the book. She balances writing Jetta's manic highs driving her family's successful shadow plays, her ability to defend herself and control spirits through necromancy. However, it also causes rash decisions and leads to actions that harms herself and those she cares the most about. This comes with the depressive lows where she withdraws, panics and sleeps due to the exhaustion of fighting it all because of a driving resilience, intelligence and need to not have her malheur define who she is nor her life.
Spoiler and Trigger Warnings: Self-Cutting/harm, child abuse, alcoholism, incest (kind of- but we'll get to that in a minute) Let's just say if I was writing a report card for Rule, I would say it had an inquisitive mind. It is a shame really because character building starts off particularly strong. You have three very different sisters from extremely different backgrounds, classes and worlds (although at times their personalities seem to mush together).