Source: NetGalley – Thank you so much to the publisher!
TL;DR: So many wonderful ideas and a fascinating setup but this needed so much more space!
The Bruising of Qilwa is a story about a refugee blood adept, hiding their power as they work as a Healer in their new homeland. The story follows them as they seek to find the source of a new plague that’s appearing, and solve it’s appearance as quietly as possible, as it seems to be linked to blood magic – something that could put them and their whole family in danger.
This book is packed to the seams with fascinating and intriguing systems and ideas. The world itself is queernormative, respect is paid to everyone and transitioning or not is just a part of life. It reminded me a great deal in that aspect of The Four Profound Weaves which is one of my favorite reads of this year. Our main character Firuz is non-binary, something I loved as a non-binary individual. They are a harried, overworked Healer that I just wanted to wrap in a blanket and give a cup of tea. I really enjoyed them, but at times wanted to shake them, something I think makes a well drawn character.
The magic systems as well are fascinating and intricate. Blood and structural magic are commonly referenced and seen but also innate control over the elements like the abilities Kofi have are common place. The world that these magic systems exist in seem to be just as nuanced and deep. But my biggest complaint, which could or could not be a bad thing depending on your view, lies here. There is too much here! When I say busting at the seams, I mean actually overflowing with information and plot and worldbuilding. 180 pages is not nearly enough time here!
The story wants to tackle so many great topics and it does a good job with what it can do, but it moved so quickly that at times I felt like we were leaving things behind – especially in the climax of the novel with the accusations that spring up against Firuz. The world too was so interesting, I wanted to know so much more about where Firuz came from and how this world was built but it felt as if tidbits were dropped just to give us a taste and tease but we lacked real depth. It seems as if our author has the world built but they simply did not have the space for it all in the short amount we got. I sincerely hope we get another book in this world, preferably one that’s at least 250, 300 pages because I would gobble it up.
3.5 eggplants out of 5 (Sorry Parviz)