cover image Light from Uncommon Stars

Light from Uncommon Stars

Ryka Aoki. Tor, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-78906-8

Aoki (He Mele a Hilo) draws from her own experiences as a queer Japanese American woman to craft a dark but ultimately hopeful sci-fi exploration of the threats faced by queer people of color. Violin teacher Shizuka Satomi has a contract with hell to deliver the souls of seven brilliant violinists. When she meets Katrina Nguyen in Los Angeles, Shizuka is certain she’ll make the perfect final sacrifice. Katrina, a transgender runaway and survival sex worker with no prior musical training, possesses a supernatural musical gift and is happy to trade her soul for lessons and a safe place to stay. Shizuka calls on Lucy Matìa, a third-generation violin restorer, to repair both Katrina’s beloved violin and the cursed bow that will steal Katrina’s soul. But as the women get to know each other, Shizuka starts having second thoughts. Meanwhile, Shizuka’s slow-burn romance with Lan Tran, a donut maker and extraterrestrial refugee fleeing danger on her home planet, further complicates her plans. Aoki’s depiction of abuse and trauma is unflinching and intense, but at its core, the novel is a love letter to immigrant culture and the power people have to save each other. Readers prepared for the emotionally difficult scenes will find a beautiful, satisfying story of redemption and families of choice. [em](Sept.) [/em]