Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review of The Devil's Mercy Homeland by Cheyenne Cartwright

Editors Note: A copy of this book was provided by the author for review.

As we have previously said, Fangs for the Fantasy is extremely interested in promoting works that feature marginalized people.  We also support authors who self publish, because we are very will aware that publishing seems to have very little interest in publishing work which features historically marginalized people in a positive light.  That said, I went into Devil's Mercy Homeland, really hoping for a good story.
I wish I could tell you definitively what the plot of the story is about but unfortunately, after about 137 pages, I was forced to concede that there seemed to be no discernible plot.  Cartwright does work hard to employ a good analysis of colonialism, in that there is a very clear divide between native people of colour and White colonizers.  We learn very early on that these White expats only seek profit and separate themselves from POC otherwise.

A subset of POC have the ability to shift into animals and live in jungles.  The society seems to be matriarchal and elder women have an important role within the tribe.  Kama, the protagonist, while despising the White colonizers, is not very much at home with her own people.  She often comes across as petulant, and at one point, her tribe simply wants rid of her for a break from her incessant pouting. What I don't understand is Kama's fixation on forcing everyone to bend to her will, when she was very recently a victim of rape.  She does seek vengeance for what happened, but does not seem to be suffering emotionally because of it, thus leading to a weird disconnect.

The Devil's Mercy Homeland has all of the elements to be a good book.  It seems to have a really inventive world, and several characters of colour who are essential to the story.  The problem is that the book is unequivocally boring.  I found myself becoming easily distracted, and wanting to do anything but finish the book.  I have certainly read books that were worse, and filled with isms, but at least in that case, it made me angry, or left room for some wonderful snark. The story was at times extremely confusing and drawn out.  I never felt as if The Devil's Mercy Homeland was heading anywhere, and it is for this reason, that I must admit that I could not finish this story.