Cover Image: Greyskin


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Member Reviews

This one was a complicated one for me. I loved parts of it, and found the story (or, more correctly, stories, as this is a linked collection) very engaging; but I got quite unsettled by aspects of it. It’s ostensibly about orcs (and other creatures) vs humans; but the orcs read like Native Americans (not a spoiler), with some stereotypical associations, like a connection to the land as well as other things that are, shall we say, very much shaped by Hollywood. In the ARC, the author introduces the book by sort of explaining and kind of excusing this link, which explanation/excuse, after reading the book, I now find unconvincing.

However, taken at face value, this is a wonderful read, well-structured and Western-inspired. It’s more than a little grim for greyskins (a pejorative term in the book for orcs), and humans (coded White people, I suppose) really don’t look so great, making this quite a political book. But all of this is done in a really fun and accessible way, with great use of language and fantasy themes. It’s also really creepy in places; I don’t care for horror, generally, but it’s done really well here, and these elements add to the dark atmosphere. I love how women are depicted, and my favourite character by far is a widowed farmer. So, all of this is great; and if I didn’t feel a bit weird about the associations, I would have loved this book more.

Still, very much recommended. I would love to see what other people think of it, and am curious about whether a sensitivity reader would pick up on anything I’m noting. Fantasy is a great vehicle for exploring relations between “races,” and although it made me think again about who gets to write what, it was a really good read. I very much hope there’ll be more stories set in this world.

Thank you very much to Deixis Press and to NetGalley for the ARC.
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A fantasy novel based on what happened to American Indians when white people arrived in America. Brutally violent as dwarfs, elves, and orcs try to protect themselves from this invasion. Some try to live alongside the whites, even though they are always viewed with suspicion. A few even interact and have mixed-race offspring. The story is well-written but hard to read as the reader must remember individual characters that may or may not appear later. Tough read.
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I really enjoyed this collection of Western novellas, it worked well overall and I was engaged with the stories. James Kinsley has a great writing style and I enjoyed what was going on. It left me wanting to read more from the author. This collection worked overall with the Western genre and it worked well.

"She wandered aimlessly and after a few minutes found herself at the dock, looking out across the Kobayashi. The few lanterns this side of the river failed to illuminate even the far bank and it was a few minutes before she realised that, over the sound of the water, she could hear oar-strokes. Had she known the trouble approaching, she would probably have run back to the inn, awakened Grimshanks and been gone from Bright Fortune in the time it took him to saddle her pony."
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