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C. S. E. Cooney

Författare till Saint Death's Daughter

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Inkluderar namnet: C.S.E. Cooney


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Allmänna fakta

Namn enligt folkbokföringen
Cooney, Claire Susan Elizabeth
Hernandez, Carlos (husband)



I think this will be DNF for now, at least the audio book. I found the many of narrator's (author's?) voices grating. I may pick up the book another time.
accidental_hermit | 3 andra recensioner | Jan 28, 2024 |
As the author used every word in the dictionary to write her bloated fantasy epic, I'll keep my review brief. For what is basically a YA novel with occasional swearing, 692 pages was far too long; Jonathan Strange this ain't. The names also annoyed me, from 'Miscellaneous' Stones to all the key-smash monikers usually found in fantasy novels. I did like the worldbuilding, when I could keep track, but the contrast between ye olde setting and the modern American dialogue kept throwing me out of the story. To be fair, I'm not a fan of fantasy novels, which I didn't realise this was before I was too far in to DNF, but reading was more of a chore than a pleasure and did not help my current fiction slump. Stunning cover, though!… (mer)
AdonisGuilfoyle | 5 andra recensioner | Nov 15, 2023 |
Originally posted on Just Geeking by.

Content warnings:
There are a lot of violent deaths, murder, blood and gore given in details, likewise, details about dead bodies (human and animals) and anatomy are discussed in detail throughout the book. This is not one for the squeamish in any way. Blood-letting as a means to create magic happens often. Deaths happen on and off page (characters of all ages). There is physical and emotional abuse, and there are scenes of torture of a child off page although details of what and when it is happening is known through magical means (explaining what I mean by this is a big spoiler).

Magical brainwashing, an ability called fascination, happens frequently throughout the book, and is used to force people into marriage and takeover their will completely. There is also an instant of forced captivity and a controlling, manipulative relationship. The abuser in both these instances is a woman. A character under the control of one of these abusers attempts to commit suicide by poison.

There are references and flashbacks to torture scenes using necromancy to revive victims, sibling abuse (emotional and physical), animal abuse, and animal death.

Saint Death’s daughter is a book that presents a conundrum for me. There is so much of the book that I loved, yet something about it just didn’t quite work for me. The first thing that got my attention was the way in which C.S.E. Cooney has chosen to write about necromancy. In this novel it’s something to be cherished, beautiful and delicate, not violent, or bloody, and definitely not to be feared. The way in which Lanie interacts with the undead she brings to life reminded me of the way I’ve felt about undead creatures and characters in video games; no revulsion, just seeing them as something unique.

Lanie is a very easy character to like, her past and her circumstances lend themselves easily to a sympathetic view, however, she’s not without flaws. Often caught up in her magic she can make mistakes, not recognise other people’s feelings or views on things, especially her abilities. All the characters are full of life (ironic considering there is so much death and undeath in this book, and yes this goes for those characters too!), colourful and brilliantly written. You have never met a family quite like the Stones. The Adams Family comes close, except the Stones have no “Family Values” so you can imagine what it was like growing up in that house for Lanie, especially considering her allergies.

Her allergies were of particular interest to me as someone with chronic illness. In the world the author has created necromancers have such a personal connection with death, with the goddess of death, that they feel an echo of violence physically. If they touch someone who has recently come into contact with violence, physically or even in their thoughts, echo wounds appear on their own body. Lanie refers to this as an allergy; an allergy to violence and death. In many ways her childhood experience is much like someone with chronic illness, especially in the way she has to deal with judgement from her family. I didn’t feel that C.S.E. Cooney had used disability as a plot device, rather I felt that she had found a way to represent disability in a fantasy setting in a way that did not reduce the disabled character to a stereotypical fantasy role, such as war veteran.

There is another disabled character in Saint Death’s Daughter, the charismatic Havoc who runs a public house, and she is described as favouring her right leg, using a cane to move around and missing a finger. Her disability has an obvious effect on her movement, yet it does not slow her down and Havoc lives her life as fully as she wishes. There’s no reason that it shouldn’t, and I appreciated that C.S.E. Cooney showed that side of Havoc as well as not ignoring her limitations. There is a scene when Lanie, Havoc and their friends are drinking, and they run out of wine. Havoc doesn’t hesitate in pointing out that it’s difficult for her to go get the wine, and rather than a big deal being made about her disability the scene focuses on the friends teasing each other about who is going to go get the wine. It’s a scene of banter, flirting and everything that would realistically happen in a setting with a disabled person and a group of friends. You may wonder why it was necessary for Havoc to even mention that she couldn’t go get the wine, well, it was in her public house and the friends were gathered next door. As simple as that.

As I read Saint Death’s Daughter I learned that C.S.E. Cooney is a master at building a unique world, one that she has written beautifully. She writes physical appearances like an artist, pulling colours from palettes and painting them into words. I felt like I was reading a true fantasy novel where everything was so different from ours, where people came in all the hues of the rainbow, and it was amazing. Just as people came in every appearance, so did their personalities and their relationships. It seems to me that C.S.E. Cooney made a point to avoid using terminology to define sexuality and gender in Saint Death’s Daughter, and the nearest similarity to what we’re familiar with is marriage. However, marriage can take place between anyone of any gender, and it is quite common for marriages between multiple people to happen. What we would call polygamy, although such a word is never uttered in the book.

For those interested in what specific LGBT representation is included in Saint Death’s daughter, it is difficult to give provide specific answers because as noted the author doesn’t literally spell out a character’s sexuality or gender. It would be unnecessary (possibly even unthinkable) to do so in the world she has created. What I can confirm is that there are same gender relationships and flirtations, polyamorous flirtations and many non-binary characters and known relationships with non-binary characters. It is uncertain whether the non-binary characters are transgender. When C.S.E. Cooney introduces most of her characters she focuses on their facial features, only including further details when they’re relevant. For example, she describes the location of wizard marks (colourful markings on the skin that wizards have) in great detail, or the physique of warriors, both of which are relevant. This may be a tactic to guide the reader to fill in the gaps themselves, or a quiet comment on our culture’s obsession with appearance. It could be as simple as words needed to be cut for the final draft.

What it does mean for the non-binary characters is that it’s up to us as the readers to interpret them as we wish. We are given their names and their pronouns, and I like that C.S.E. Cooney has left it at that. If only our own culture could leave things alone in such a way. Likewise, I appreciated the way that relationships flowed so easily from one to another. Characters flirted with ease, there was no embarrassment or uneasiness, it was just adults enjoying each other’s company. It felt very reminiscent of the land of Terre D’Ange in Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel Legacy and the precept “Love as thou wilt”.

There is also a fantastic tradition known as ‘floomping’ and ‘froofing’ on the holy fire feast day of Midsummer. Both traditions involve dressing up in a style that is completely different to one’s usual fare, either to become an extravagant opposite of themselves (floomping) or to reveal their fanciest, happiest inner self (froofing). To floomp is to dress as the opposite gender, while to froof is to dress in the brightest, decorative and fanciest clothes and makeup. It is also possible to do both at once. I imagine that this is what PRIDE is probably like (I have never been able to attend due to my chronic health conditions), but rather than a minority group of people celebrate it, the entire society does. It is a celebration of all the things that our culture shuns as being wrong, and it is glorious.

I am not usually a fan of poetry; I like my poetry in brief bites and to look at it from afar. So it surprised me that I enjoyed the rhyming language of one of the races that C.S.E. Cooney has created. The Quadiíb are fascinating, and I wish we could have seen more from their perspective. They speak in rhymes and couplets, and it was just lovely. As they only spoke in their native language part of the time it meant that their flowery medieval-style dialogue didn’t get too much for me. I think a whole book of their dialogue would have been too much to bear, whereas it was a nice break from normality here and there.

There are a few additional things I want to mention that I think people need to know about Saint Death’s Daughter. First, this is not a young adult book. For some reason seventeen users have this listed as young adult. I can assure you it is not (check the content warnings at the top). I can only assume someone learned that Lanie begins the book as a teenager and assumed that she stayed that age; she does not. The book jumps from when Lanie is fifteen to when she is twenty-two, and then again to when she is twenty-eight. Based on the age of the protagonist, the content, reading level and language, this is not a young adult book.

The language in Saint Death’s Daughter is quite dense, there is a fair use of jargon and as identified by Claudia in her review, C.S.E. Cooney is fond of using complicated sentence structures. Some of her writing works beautifully, in my opinion, however, the general density of it is one of the things that I think made this book not work that well for me. This coupled with a slow, drawn out journey from beginning to end and scattered plot progression just did not work for me.

There have been complaints about huge information dumping at the start of the book in the form of a list of calendar dates, list of gods and two family names. In hindsight, this probably would have been better suited at the back of the novel which is where lists like this are usually found in my experience. However, I’m going to be blunt here; if you’re put off by a list then this isn’t the book for you. If you’re wondering whether the information is relevant, the gods come up throughout the book, but their identities are explained. The calendar dates are given under each chapter and exist for an added bit of information; they’re not essential to your reading experience. The essential dates are listed clearly in countdown format as well as being spoken about in the book itself. If you wish you could always refer back to the list while reading by using a traditional bookmark to mark the page or the electronic bookmarking system if reading an e-book.

While everything came together in the end, it just felt as though it took the longest roads to get there. Yet at the same time I can’t say that is a negative as I would in other books because it felt like it worked? I don’t see how Saint Death’s Daughter could have been told in any other way. As I said at the start of the review, this book is a conundrum for me. Normally I read a book that I have some critical thoughts about and that’s it, however, with Saint Death’s Daughter they are less critical and more me recognising that they worked, just not in a way that works for me personally. I guess the best way I can explain it is that this is a book that feels more like a carefully constructed masterpiece that I can admire rather than a book that I can fall in love with. It is a beautiful, stunning work of literature, more art than words, and something that I recommend everyone reads. I just didn’t quite fall hopelessly in love with it and that’s what is needed for me to give a book a 4 or 5-star rating.

For more of my reviews please visit my blog!
… (mer)
justgeekingby | 5 andra recensioner | Jun 6, 2023 |



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