In the wake of a devastating plague, two communities emerge as bastions of survival. One is called the City, and its people scrabble for scraps in the wasteland. The other, New Charity, enjoys the bounty of its hydroelectric dam and refuses City denizens so much as a drop of precious water. When City-dweller Cressyda inherits her father's ranch within New Charity, she becomes intent on opening the dam to all - no matter the cost.
But when Syd reunites with her old best friend, Casandra, a born seer and religious acolyte, she realizes that her plans could destroy the fragile lives they've built in order to survive. What's more, the strange magic securing the dam's operations could prove deadly if disturbed. Yet when Syd discovers evidence that her father might have been murdered, she is more determined than ever to exact revenge on New Charity's corrupt.
Pitted against Cas, as well as her own family, Syd must decide how to secure the survival of both settlements without tipping them over the brink to utter annihilation. In this intense and emotional reimagining of the Trojan War epic, two women clash when loyalty, identity, community, and family are all put to the ultimate test.
First of all, kudos to Camille Griep in writing such a starkly different novel from debut Letters to Zell. I say this not because I disliked Letters to Zell; quite the opposite as you see from my reflections, more reflections , and review. (I pre-ordered New Charity Blues without knowing anything about it simply based on my love for Letters to Zell.) Rather, she avoided the temptation to play it safe and to be pegged as a certain kind of writer or the tried-and-true route of writing a sequel. Granted, this is still speculative fiction; there are, after all, magical elements, but her previous world was fantasy grounded in overlapping reality whereas this novel provides a gritty, post-apocalyptic reality with magical elements. Moreover, the overall tone is grittier (while remaining less dark than the prevalent writing fashion of the day) even as she deals with similar issues of community and individuality such as: Where do our roles and obligations start and stop and when does feeling obligated result from self-abuse? How do we communicate and remain connected in the midst of having made different/difficult choices over which others differ or disapprove? When does cooperation roll-over into selling out? As much as this book is about fighting the status quo, it also speaks to how we fight. How do we avoid adopting our enemy’s worst characteristics when there seems to be no other way to “win?” Finally, how the heck can a writer so deftly handle these humorous riffs on fairy tales and gritty post-apocalyptic tinged with hope stories? Seriously, if Ms. Griep was considered an up-and-coming writer before, New Charity Blues announces her as a force with which to be reckoned. Simply consider that she has pulled this 50+-year-old man into stories tied around twenty-something fairy tale princess and a twenty-something former ballerina (not a huge call for dance after the plague) and her friends.
As is my wont, I went between the Kindle and Audible versions of the book using that lovely Whispersync for Voice feature. The audiobook version is performed by Lauren Ezzo and Whitney Dykhouse alternating between the primary points of view of Cress and Cass. This works well. If you like audiobooks, you'll like this performance.
For full review: wp.me/p2XCwQ-1pC
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