cover image Winterglass


Benjanun Sriduangkaew. Apex, $10.95 trade paper (130p) ISBN 978-1-937009-62-5

Sriduangkaew’s promising novella of a colonized people oppressed by a ruthless despot disappoints with an uneven plot and some missed opportunities for complex worldbuilding. In an incongruent fantasy world of mechanization and ghost-powered cities, winter has persisted for 50 years since the arrival of the Winter Queen, who destroys enemies and indigenous cultures with efficiency. Her magical mirror was shattered, and its shards imbue those who ingest them with great strength. In the occupied land of Sirapirat, Nuawa Dasaret was chosen as a child to absorb a shard and become a freedom fighter for her people. She bides her time, honing her skills in gladiatorial games. When she falls in love with the queen’s loyal general, Lussadh al-Kattan, their relationship demands sacrifice and deception. Sriduangkaew (Scale-Bright) employs spare description, drawing together elements of fables, Asian cultures, steampunk, and variations on the theme of strong female characters. The plot hints at a larger story but lags in the middle, and motivation for the queen’s rampage and conquest is flimsy. (Dec.)