Or What You Will, by Jo Walton

Review copy provided by the publisher. Also the author is a dear friend, and I read this book in an early draft.

For a book about death this is not particularly gloomy. It’s not only about death, it’s about creation/subcreation and the uplifting nature of story, and about Florence, and about a bunch of Shakespeare’s characters. But it is substantially about death. And yet…and yet it is not a particularly sad book, not on my list of “oh goodness don’t read this now.”

The mix of 21st century Montreal writer, 19th century Latin scholars, and fantastical 15th-16th-ish-sorta century fantasy characters give the story a sort of syncretist flexibility. It’s intensely personal and specific and yet very far-ranging. And…look, Caliban has a family. Caliban is not a singular monster but a person with motivation and family and compatriots. I like all sorts of things about this book, but I think one of my favorites is that it takes the time to have thinking, feeling creatures who are quite unlike each other, finding ways to get through it all in the same world. Worlds. Whichever.

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