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The Mimicking of Known Successes

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I was surprised to see that this story is more of a novella than a novel. While I was reading, I was even more surprised at how adequately Malka Older was able to gently deposit me into this futuristic sci-fi world. I was rarely confused at what was going on, and found it easy to fall in and out of this story, as I had to read it over the course of a few sessions. As Mossa investigates a missing person who might just have been murdered, she reconnects with an old friend/love interest/roommate, Pleiti. While they parted somewhat tensely, it is clear the two never stopped caring for one another. As they grew older, what pushed them apart became inconsequential and the normal growth one experiences through life brings them to a new understanding over the course of the investigation.

Told through their altering points of view, the investigation reveals a plot that may ruin society’s potential to return to Earth and all the research and data that has been gathered to reach such a goal.

I love that, for me, the investigation fell into the background, and I was much more interested in what was going on between Mossa and Pleiti. The investigation was, of course, fascinating, but this renewed relationship drew my attention time and time again. Especially as Pleiti analyzed her feelings for Mossa, which presented as concern when Mossa was injured, then as an urge to spend time together, to get dinner together, even as the investigation surged forward.

The storytelling is unbelievably tight for a science fiction story and while it leaves many questions unanswered, it only left me curious for more, rather than frustrated or confused. This book would make an excellent addition to anyone’s TBR but especially those who enjoy sapphic romance and science fiction rolled into a neat little package. It would also make a good transition novel because of its length. It could even be finished in one sitting, should someone be so inclined.

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for an ARC of this book!

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The Mimicking of Known Success by Malka Older
Moss & Pleiti #1

Whew…took me a LONG time to get into this book and am still not sure what to think. Why did it take time? Well, the writing felt rather stilted and old fashioned and as if I was reading a book written over a century ago although I am sure the time must have been far distant in the future as it takes place several generations after humans left earth after making it inhabitable. Add in the rather highbrow terms that felt erudite but archaic, a setting devoid of much common on earth and a Gaslamp steampunk feel to it and people I had trouble understanding or warming up to…well…I am scratching my head trying to remember if reading an original Sherlock Holmes story would read like this or not.

I was intrigued by the book description since sci-fi sometimes grabs my interest and this plot sounded intriguing. The main characters were easily visualized but difficult to warm up to and I wondered if that was due to what had happened since humans left earth or if it was their basic characters. I also felt that I didn’t get to KNOW them. I wasn’t sure how long it had been since Mossa and Pleita had seen one another, what their relationship was like in college, or what they might have in common later that would draw them together again. Were the two in their late twenties, thirties or even older? My guess is late twenties but am not sure.

The descriptions of Jupiter were well done, the characters easy to visualize if not warm to, and the mystery solving easy to follow. As this is the first in a series, there will be books to follow and perhaps through following them I will find out more about Mossa and Pleita in the past as they work together in the future.

I am glad I did not give up at chapter eight as the story did begin to grow on me and I now feel that I would like to read more to find out what happens next. Will Mossa and Pleita work together and form more than a working relationship? Will progress be made concerning the future of humans living on Pluto? Will the humans ever be able to return to earth? How did they actually manage to get to Pluto and make it habitable? I think those and other questions that I have would be worth finding out…maybe.

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Tor/Forge for the ARC – This is my honest review.

3-4 Stars

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This was a very fun, creative novella! I thoroughly enjoyed Mossa and Pleiti's relationship and all of the world-building this story had. Everything was so well thought out, and the two just worked so well! I only wish the book was longer, but it was great for its length!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tor for giving me a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest and fair review.

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I loved the idea of the book. It was a unique and under-tackled premise. And the promise of an LGBTQ element cemented it for me.

But there was too much happening, I felt like I was in a literary fast-moving river, tumbling through rapids after rapids, unable to figure out which way was up.

The worldbuilding was terrific, and while I really connected with Jupiter as it was envisioned, I could not connect with either character.

So great premise but the execution didn't do much for me, I'm afraid.

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this book had me at “cozy holmesian murder mystery and sapphic romance set on jupiter” and lost me just as quickly—an intriguing concept, but underwhelming in its execution.

in a future where earth has been rendered uninhabitable by climate change and human greed, generations of humanity have built a new society centered around an eventual return to the planet their ancestors fled. the mimicking of known successes follows a pair of exes, one an investigator and the other a scholar, who are reunited by an investigation into a missing man that quickly escalates into a larger plot—one that may shatter centuries of work towards a future on earth.

this was a dense read that simply tries to accomplish too much in too little space, and as a result nothing feels properly explored. so much time is spent cramming complex world-building wherever possible that the more character-driven aspects of the story—the investigation, mossa and pleiti’s relationship (both past and present), the bond between a people and a planet they’ve never known (which had the potential to be a fascinating exploration of generational trauma)—are neglected.

to give credit where credit is due, i did love the exploration of what a civilization on jupiter’s rings might look like, i just wish that world-building hadn’t come at the expense of the story itself.

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I don't know why but this was just not for me. I didn't like the writing style of the author; it felt kind of pretentious and like she was trying too hard to sound fancy and profound.

What I did like was the world building and her thoughts and ideas on how civilization would look on Jupiter. I liked how she described the system and the architecture and everything in that realm... but her character building and the way they spoke was so weird. The two mains had a romantic past but they spoke too formally to each other. It was like they had either never met before or they were living in the future but had come from the past and hadn't yet figured out how to speak like the normal humans around them.

This one was a real challenge for me to get through.

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A solid mystery set on Jupiter. A man has fallen to his death on a remote platform, and there have been thefts from an institute devoted to restoring life to Earth. Investigator Mossa and their ex-girlfriend Pleiti follow the clues and try to solve the mystery. Holmesian and traditional with a scifi setting.

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The Mimicking of Known Successes promises and delivers a straightforward yet mostly satisfying concept: a classic Holmes and Watson-style mystery, but in space with queer women. With no frills or unnecessary bulk, this novella gets straight to the intrigue and throws our characters into a missing persons case that has bigger implications than either of them realize.

The lead characters are Mossa and Pleiti. The former is a professional investigator, tasked with determining what exactly happened to a man who has seemingly vanished. The latter is an academic specializing in old Earth ecosystems, a colleague of the missing man and also Mossa’s college ex-girlfriend. Mossa is your classic Sherlock-type - aloof and enigmatic, yet brilliant. Pleiti is able to gradually open her up and reveal a warmer, more caring side to her, which gives the book a warm, pleasant emotional core. Due to the short nature of the story, however, the relationship does not develop much depth beyond generic pleasantness.

The best part of this story, for me, is the wholly original setting. It takes place in a future where humans have made Earth inhospitable and settled not on the Moon or Mars, but a far more unlikely locale: Jupiter. Since the actual planet is made up of gas, the settlers have constructed platforms that reside within the rings, connected by an extensive rail system. The mechanics of the platforms and railways play an integral role to the central mystery, making the world feel material and lived in. I also quite enjoyed that everything had a sort of gaslamp feeling to it. It resonates with the Holmesian tone, but it also explores a thought that I don’t see too often in science fiction - the idea that if we lose Earth, and all of our efforts and resources are directed towards survival elsewhere, the everyday technologies we take for granted could potentially regress or disappear.

I think this is a nice, understated mystery with romantic undertones in a very interesting setting, but ultimately I would be feeling much more sour if I did not know there would be more. This certainly works as a set-up for more stories with Mossa and Pleiti, but as a standalone story it’s just a little bit bare.

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The best thing about The Mimicking of Known Successes is the ways in which it manages to make a post-apocalyptic futuristic Jupiter colony feel, on both superficial and fundamental levels, like the foggy melancholia of Victorian London. The scarves twined about our protagonists' necks may be for individual protection from an alien environment, and the fog and wintery storms may be the result of the planet's gaseous atmosphere - but they seem at once natural for the sci fi setting and for the Sherlock Holmes pastiche of the story. At a deeper level, there's a sense of melancholy nostalgia and shades of recent industrialism that give the same blend of future (the major project on this colony is to resurrect a destroyed Earth and return humanity to its homeplanet; colonialism and nostalgia are, it turns out, just as likely in Future Jupiter as Victorian England). And it's all pitch perfect for both a sci fi novella and a Sherlock Holmes story. (The title, in its internal and external meanings, works much the same way.)

The fact that my biggest criticism of Mimicking is, in fact, my usual criticism of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories is probably also a sign that the adaptation works. The mystery isn't the kind you can figure out while playing along at home, and I wish we knew the villain before they're presented as the villain. But both of these things are reasons I'm not a bigger fan of the original Sherlock Holmes, too, so can I really fault a retelling for mimicking the flaws along with the successes?

As characters, Mossa and Pleiti likewise perfectly balance faithful adaptation (they are recognizably, authentically, Holmes and Watson) and creative freedom and growth. They don't feel like they could have been simply plugged in from the original, but are their own beings, with a different relationship with one another, with their work, with their world - and all that is precisely why I'm not just content with seeing how one puts Sherlock Holmes on Jupiter, but eager to read more from this series, from this world and this pair of characters. A pitch-perfect pastiche, but richly original enough to grow.

Thank you to Tordotcom for the advance review copy!

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So unique. I LOVED. The love story, the life on Jupiter, the mystery. Just wish it were longer! Can we get a sequel?

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Sapphic Sherlock in space? SAY LESS. After Earth becomes uninhabitable humanity has resettled on Jupiter. Train platforms connect cities on the gas giant and it's one of the platforms that an investigator is called to. A man suddenly disappeared into the empty expanse below. Did he jump? Or was it something more nefarious?

I was completely on board (hey-o) with this plot -- and the 137-page length was even better. Unfortunately this didn't work for me. The dialogue was so stilted. I'm not sure if Older was trying to give it a formal, Victorian-esque feel and that's where the Sherlock comparisons came from? "Is there any way to find out whom he did meet?" "I have hopes we may yet triangulate on the evil-doer."

The plot sounded great, but the story itself fell flat.

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I have no idea how, but this was too boring to read, even with how short it was. I just did not care about any of the mysteries, the characters, or the setting. I do wonder if it would be better more fleshed out, but as it is, I cannot finish it.

**Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the eARC**

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DNF
I'm kinda getting into mysteries in space-- The Spare Man had a unique setting, and although Dead Space turned out to be more horror than mystery, some of the aspects were neat. Mickey7 has got mystery/conspiracy elements and Wormhole was complete with police officers and detectives. So I was down for this murder mystery on a colonized planet somewhere out in space.

I was pretty interested during the prologue-- lots of hints about the setting, new technologies sprinkled in but not fully explained yet, etc. The writing once the chapters started, though, was a hard no. I made it through 2 chapters. The prologue is third-person narration, maybe a little stiff but it felt fine given the subject and setting. The chapters are first-person narration, told by a character in love with his own intelligence. From the vocabulary to the sentence structure, this character refuses to use a few every-day words when a complex description could be shoehorned in instead. His character-- narration, dialogue, and also mannerism and interests-- are like if a group of people played telephone, but the message is a caricature built of the stereotypical(ly negative) traits of an out-of-touch university faculty member. He's kind of a doofus, likely redeemable, and there's a backstory between him and the investigator that might turn out to be interesting, but I couldn't image listening to (reading) this narrator any longer.

eARC from NetGalley.

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Youtube Review will be avaliable at some point between March 10th - 15th (current health issues prevent filming). If links to Youtube wrapups/reviews are desired please reach out to me! Otherwise please see Youtube link in bio

When you pitch something to me as 'Holmesian' my guard goes up. Sherlock Holmes and the associated story beats/tropes have been used so much and let's all be honest - so badly - so many times it makes me flinch. I adore them when used correctly, I'm a big fan of the original, and am very aware of where they failed and where they can fail in the modern sense so I always go in with trepidation. This paid off though and has the promise of being a new favorite Holmesian mystery series!
Set on Jupiter this novella throws us in with little fanfare to the mystery of a man missing of one of the rings/rails that humanity has built around the gaseous plant. Mossa, our 'Holmes' of the story, sets out to reunite with an old friend. Pleiti, the friend in question, is our Watson and the narrator of our story from there on. The two are old friends from college, once lovers now distant friends and they begin to work the case together. Pleiti is Mossa's way and guide at the university at which she studies and works.
The mystery itself had me guessing (an impressive feat) and I enjoyed the reveals and the structure. It felt very much like the story telling style of Mr. Arthur Conan Doyle but with a much improved and modern flair. There was also a current within the story of our past on Earth and why Jupiter was the home of humanity which I enjoyed a great deal. My only complaint was the difficulty I had in visualizing the seemingly elaborate structure that was used to house humanity around Jupiter but as I continued to read this fell more the back of my mind. I do hope to see some concept or fan art of the place however - if someone finds some or makes it let me know!
What little romance is there is simple and doesn't distract from the overall plot though I'm interested to see how that carries through to the next book(s). A great SF mystery novella I'd highly recommend for my Holmes fans out there.

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TL;DR

The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older is fun and shows that Older is an author to watch. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Any and all opinions that follow are mine alone.

Review: The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older

Two genres that I don’t read much of are: cozy mysteries and romance. I have an inherent bias in me that’s unfair to the writers working in those areas. I’d like to say that I requested The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older to push my boundaries, but that wouldn’t be true. When I saw that Older had a new book coming out, I requested it solely based on the author. I didn’t know it was a romance or a cozy until I sat down to actually read it. To be clear, even if I had known this, I would have still requested because Older is an author I have on my list of new-to-me writers. Her other books have been recommended to me in that past but never found their way to my TBR pile. So, I requested this to check out Older as an author, and I’m glad that I did. The Mimicking of Known Successes is a lovely mystery/romance with one of the best settings that I’ve read all year.

Pleiti is returning to her home and job at the university from a trip to see her parents. Waiting for her is her ex-girlfriend, Mossa, who is an Investigator confirming a potential suicide that may actually be a murder. Mossa seeks Pleiti out because the victim was a researcher at the same university as Pleiti. Naturally, the researcher agrees to help her ex, and as they begin to investigate what looks more and more like a murder, they spend time together and old feelings begin to reawaken. Their investigation takes them to various parts of the colony, including the Preservation Institute. As they dig into the academic’s disappearance and potential murder, Mossa and Pleiti are attacked. Another murder takes place, but this time near the university. Something sinister is taking place, and the two women attempt to unravel secrets and their complex feelings for each.

The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older is a first person point of view cozy mystery and sapphic romance mixed together. Pleiti is the narrator for most of the book; though, the prologue is from Mossa’s point of view, but it’s in third person. This is short for a science fiction story. The publisher lists it as 176 pages. It reads fast with plenty to enjoy.

Setting

The Mimicking of Known Successes is set in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, though the colony calls it Giant. Older uses this setting so well. In places, it reminded me of frontier towns in westerns, and the adaptions that her characters have made to life on Jupiter is fantastic. The weather was enough to never let me forget this was a different planet, but neither was it intrusive. Parts of the colony are built from scrap metal, others – richer areas, of course – are nicer. Due to limited space, area allotments are highly prized. Yet, the colonist make room for the Preservation Institute as a zoo. It’s a beautifully thought out setting that adds just the right amount of extra spice to a fantastic story.

The reason that humans are in a colony on Jupiter is because we ruined Earth. Researchers at the university, including Pleiti, are studying how to terraform Earth so that humans can return someday. But they are also researching how to create a balanced ecosystem. This is another bit of setting that flavors the story so well. I like the idea that we seek to return to the planet we devastated. Clearly, humanity is capable of colonizing space; so, it says something that significant effort is spent looking back.

Pushing My Boundaries

As I said earlier, I don’t read much cozy mysteries or romance – sapphic or otherwise. So, I might not be the person to review how The Mimicking of Known Successes works within those genres. But what I can say is that those aspects made for a very entertaining story. The mystery had importance and danger yet lacked constant tension. When Mossa and Pleiti were off duty, they were off duty. This was refreshing for me. Rarely in mysteries do we see down time for the investigators, and it can lead to a sense of burn out because everything is tense all the time. Older ramps up and eases down the tension as needed in a way that rang true. After all, cops and detectives all have shifts and off duty time. They’re not on the case 24/7/365. This downtime allowed Mossa and Pleiti to uncover some of the old feelings that brought them together. Pleiti’s attraction is plain as day (thanks first person narration), but Mossa’s isn’t. Yet Older allows her moments of tenderness that surprise Pleiti, and these were very touching to read. Their courtship was always tentative and subdued with the past hanging over it and causing doubt. This also felt true to me. It felt like something I’ve experienced before. I enjoyed the cozy and romance aspects much more than I expected.

Does this mean I’ll give more cozies and romances a shot? I don’t know. Hopefully, this book undoes some of my bias. Older has created a lovely story that pushed the boundaries of my reading habits. I’m grateful for that.

Mossa

Mossa is the Sherlock Holmes-esque character of the investigative duo. She’s smart, observant, and makes connections that others wouldn’t. But I think comparing her to Holmes is a bit unfair because she’s much more human than Holmes. While I did find her mysterious and maybe a little odd, she wasn’t far fetched. Her deductions and connections were what I’d expect of a investigator who’d been at their job for a long time.

She surprised me in some spots, and I had to wonder what she was like before becoming an investigator. Pleiti says that she’s changed. It’d be interesting to know how; yet, Mossa doesn’t believe she has changed. But it’s in the way she surprises Pleiti that we do get a sense that she’s not the same person. Because Pleiti is remembering the younger Mossa, how she surprises Pleiti shows how Mossa has matured.

Conclusion

Malka Older’s The Mimicking of Known Successes is a lovely story about humanity. Through the cozy mystery, the sapphic romance, and the science fictional elements, Older gives us a story that entertains, delights, and makes us think. What more could any reader ask for? Highly recommended.

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TL/DR: a delight that I was unable to finish, but would heavily consider revisiting.

I want to preface beginning with my thanks towards author Malka Older and the publisher, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, for allowing me to view this book in lieu of the publication date! Thank you very much for this opportunity!

A sapphic romance (complete with the incredible “former lovers” dynamic to boot) set on the surface of Jupiter, the book opens right off the bat by throwing you right into the mystery that the novel is centered around. Both of these aspects were very compelling to me! This book had compelling characters and built a compelling world, in which I could tell a lot of love and time was put into. I commend the author for this!

This book read, at least in my mind, like a black-and-white noir detective film complete with dialogue voice-others throughout, which I found very endearing!

At times, though, picturing what exactly was happening, and this world in my head proved to be challenging for me, but this was not necessarily on any error by the author: I’ve had this issue with Dune before as well. Admittedly, I was rather lost in the first half of the book and was not entirely sure of what was going on. As such, I found that the book was hard to get into and unfortunately (though this was at no fault of the author’s and due to my own time-constraints) I was not able to finish this book. However: the positive reviews that have been left on this book are well-deserved. I hope, some day, to pick up a copy of the published book from the local library and attempt to dive into this universe once more!

Given the general themes of this novel surrounding the very nature of humanity (for both better and worse), it seems to be a thought-provoking one that will sit with the reader long after they continue to read it.

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This was my first book by Malka Older and the cover and title brought me to it. I’m a sucker for that kind of title and this one has a really nice ring to it. I hadn’t heard of the author before though now her 2016 science-fiction political thriller Infomocracy is on my TBR.

Set on a gas-giant planet (think Jupiter or Saturn), The Mimicking of Known Successes is a cosy murder mystery and a slow-burn second-chance romance. The sudden disappearance of a man causes Investigator Mossa to reconnect with her ex, scholar Pleiti, five years after they broke up. The two of them have gone on to lead very different lives after university but the connection remains, even if they haven’t seen each other in years.

The prologue is told from Mossa’s POV, then we move to Pleiti’s, which I loved. Mossa is a fascinating character, with a very quick mind and an unparalleled capacity to process puzzles. Because the story is told from her point of view and in the first person, we know how Pleiti feels but not so much who she is, especially as Mossa’s return has a tornado-like quality and Pleiti finds herself assisting her with her investigation, very much the Watson to Mossa’s Holmes. Will we get to know more of Pleiti in her natural environment in the next book, The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles, coming out in February 2024? Or will Mossa’s world become hers? Either way, I’m looking forward to more.

Besides the characters, I also liked the worldbuilding very much, though I’m not sure I was able to really see what it’s supposed to look like but that’s not unusual for me. I don’t see, I feel. And I did feel here. Not the angsty feelings I usually look for, but rather something akin to curiosity. About this new world intent on bringing back the old one, about the society’s dynamics, and, obviously, about the characters. I want more of these two and I look forward to the sequel. The ending of this novella didn’t leave me unsatisfied and it can be read as a standalone but it whetted my appetite for more.

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<b>The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Ann Older is the first adventure of Mossa and Pleite, your new favourite detective duo!</b>

*Thank you to Netgalley and Tordotcom for the advance copy of this book.
I enjoyed it a lot and it was a fresh and quick reading.

<b>On a colony in Jupiter a man goes missing and the enigmatic investigator Mossa is in charge of finding out the reasons behind this. In this journey she will cross paths with her ex, Pleiti, who will help her solve this mystery.</b>

The story is full of enigmas and has a <u>strong resemblance to the detective stories I loved as a child</u>. But, what’s new about it? It happens in Jupiter and it has a sapphic romance, which makes it even better!

It was a very <b>fast paced reading that kept me guessing and wondering</b> who was the murderer and what were they reasons why did they did it. It was very fun and enjoyable. Even when it’s a short novella (over 100 pages) <b>the worldbuilding is great and is full of small details that create a complete overall image</b>, which was one of my favourite things about it. The Jupiter colony was alive in my mind and it made it so much easier to understand the story.

I also really liked <b>the characters</b>. Pleiti is the main narrator of this story, and her point of view explains a lot of things about Mossa’s character as well as her own. You learn about their love story and their past bit by bit, which I found natural and easy to understand. They are both complex characters with different backgrounds that complement each other in a perfect way.

The author uses the first half of the book to expose the mystery and to present the characters. However, I found the second part of the book slower and with less plot-twists than I was expecting. I didn’t expect the ending and even though I believe it makes sense in the story I was somehow disappointed as I felt that something was missing.

Overall, this was a great read. Fun, fresh, quick, and easy. The characters were well-written and believable. The author’s style is easy to understand and that’s why I think this book is a <u>perfect introduction to science fiction and space operas.</u>

For all these reasons, I believe this novel is a great start for this new world where the author could explore different mysteries. I can’t wait to see what’s next for these characters and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did.

Rating 4* / 5*
Rep: Queer main characters

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well…that was TOUGH to get through. a real sludge, unfortunately.

genuinely, it was just a dense writing style that never got easier to consume. to the point where i had to purposely and actively put down what i was reading. all to give myself some time away. i’m not one who usually does that outside of when life gets in my way, you know? so i feel like that says a lot for how i personally felt about the book.

but lets get into it. i think the other main issue besides the writing style was how disconnected i felt from either character. and yeah, it could definitely be a fault to the writing style too. but deeper than how the writing impacted my ability to connect with pleiti and mossa was the fact that i just didn’t believe their relationship. we’re told time and again that they had something previously. that they actively still have romantic feelings for each other. but where? it truly felt like it was just repeated by pleiti. that mossa has these romantic feelings. like she’s justifying it to herself as much as the reader. and besides one time when they kiss, it just… didn’t feel like there was really anything romantic occurring between them. which made their romantic scene feel even more off to me.

as for the mystery. that was fine. in true holmes fashion, it made me feel like i was always a step behind. but sure, it had an interesting enough concept. will the sequel(s) follow the fall-out of the events from this mystery? or a new case? i guess we’ll see, with time. but… will i be reading it? probably not.

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Great mystery, reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. The setting is fascinating and sobering. Enjoyable, quick read. Would love to read more about these characters. This book will likely be featured on a future episode of Your Rainbow Reads podcast.

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