“Skyward Inn feels like an instant classic of the genre.” -- The Guardian
Drink down the brew and dream of a better Earth.
Skyward Inn, within the high walls of the Western Protectorate, is a place of safety, where people come together to tell stories of the time before the war with Qita.
But safety from what? Qita surrendered without complaint when Earth invaded; Innkeepers Jem and Isley, veterans from either side, have regrets but few scars.
Their peace is disturbed when a visitor known to Isley comes to the Inn asking for help, bringing reminders of an unnerving past and triggering an uncertain future.
Did humanity really win the war?
This is Jamaica Inn by way of Jeff Vandermeer, Ursula Le Guin, Angela Carter and Michel Faber, a beautiful story of belonging, identity and regret.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 12 members
Skyward Inn is within the high walls of the Western Protectorate. It is a place of safety, where people come together to tell stories. Mainly stories of the time before the war with Qita. But safety from what? Qita surrendered without complaint when Earth invaded; Innkeepers Jem and Isley, veterans from either side, have regrets but few scars. Their peace is disturbed when a visitor known to Isley comes to the Inn asking for help, bringing reminders of a past and triggering an uncertain future. Did humanity really win the war? Brilliant artwork on the cover made this book immediately stand out, and the designer deserves some credit here. It is the first thing that caught my eye. An incredible story with quite an unbelievable twist. The author has excelled herself with this inventive, intelligent and unique sci-fi re-telling of the Jamaica Inn. Very atmospheric and eerie at times, bordering on the macabre. Do not expect an all-action fast-paced novel because you will not get it. This is a very slow burner but in a good way. It focuses on family issues as well as the local community. There is a lot of thought-provoking material here concerning inter-species relationships as well as family ones. Do not be put off by this state of affairs because things take a turn for the weird and fascinating later on. The pace never quickens as it never needs to, but the story definitely takes a turn you do not expect. I found it brilliant and totally surreal. There are some superbly developed characters in Jem, her brother Dom, and son Fosse and friend the Qitan, Isley. They are supported by a host of other characters with their own traits. I loved the whole idea of the good old fashioned English Public House and all that comes with it. The locals and the camaraderie, the dart matches, with the pies and mushy peas for afterwards. Happy days. Bought back many a good memory of places long gone, now turned into trendy wine bars. Obviously, everything revolves around Skyward Inn and its 'Brew', much favoured by the locals. But through Jem and Fosse, we spend time on Qita as well. But it is the lack of technology that makes this Science-Fiction novel stand out. It proves you do not have to be blinded by science to have a Sci-Fi blockbuster. There's a freshness, intensity and passion to the narrative. Some of it may seem overly sensitive. This is evident as the book covers intense feelings of guilt, love, hope and depression. Some of the content does become a little colourful at times. I thoroughly enjoyed Skyward inn as it was a novel totally different from anything I have read in a long time. Destined to be a classic? Maybe. Thank you, Rebellion, Solaris & NetGalley, for the ARC of the paperback.
"Skyward Inn" is a feast of weirdness that made this book a refreshing read. It's beautifully written, the characters are a great blend of routine and quirky, the plot is solid and compelling, and the setting is easy to imagine and comprehend. It's not going to be everyone's idea of a perfect read, but it hit the spot for me. My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
Skyward Inn by Aliya Whitely was read much faster by us than initially planned. The other two had it devoured in days and only me, the LadyDuckofDoom, lingered because I recently moved and had to pack a ton of books into a ton of boxes. The book is supposed to be a retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, which I haven’t read, and probably never will. So I can not tell you anything about the connection between the two books. What I can tell you about is how the book reminded me some of Ursula LeGuin’s works. Whitely’s work reads much faster than LeGuin’s, but in the end, I got a similiar feeling from Skyward Inn as I got from some books of the Hainish Circle. The story focuses on one family in the Western Protectorate, a region that has turned its back on technology. The rest of the world seems to be obsessed with trading and slowly colonizing Qita, a planet with sentient life. The path to Qita was mysteriously opened by the so called Kissing Gate. The mother of the family, Jem, runs the Skyward Inn with the only other Quitan, Isley, in the Western Protectorate. Her son Fosse was raised by her brother while she was away, signed up many years to deliver peace messages all over Qita. Telling more would spoil the story. The unfolding book is as much a family drama as a speculative mystery, the many layers of the story working very well together. Some of us sci-fi nerds can guess the defining key elements the story is working towards, but that does not prevent the enjoyment of it. At a bit over 300 pages, the book is not that long, either. I would recommend some time to think about the ending, though. It would make a lovely pick for a larger bookclub, too.
Skyward Inn introduces readers to the Western Protectorate, a small part of Devon that’s rejected the fast evolving modern world outside of its walled borders, a world where people use AI implants and travel to distant planets. The people inside the Protectorate have chosen a simpler life instead, growing their own food, building their homes themselves, and relying on nothing from the outside. It’s here that we meet Jem, a woman who grew up in the Protectorate, but left her home for years to travel to the distant world of Qita, where humanity had begun expanding. During her time on Qita she met and fell in love with one of the world’s inhabitants, Isely. Veterans from both sides of a small war that never was, they found friendship and comfort in each other, and Isely returned to Earth with Jem once her tour was finished. Now the two of them run the Skyward Inn, a small tavern overlooking the village where Jem grew up, a village she no longer really feels a part of. Having worked hard for the locals to accept Isely, and still working to reforge her relationship with her estranged son, Jem’s life is thrown off course when another Qitan who knows Isely arrives at the Inn, asking for their help. Skyward Inn is a strange story, one that mixes together old ways of life, of remote rural living, with alien worlds and the fear of the alien and the unknown. It takes a very familiar, simple way of life that most readers will be familiar with, that some might even desire to pursue (no more social media, offices, or commutes sounds wonderful) and begins to add strange elements that alter this dream existence into something very different. Despite presenting two opposing ways of life, the quiet life that shuns technology, and another where travel to the stars is possible, the book isn’t really about that. It doesn’t ask big questions about which way of life is better, or if there needs to be a balance between the old way of the world and the future; instead, it focuses on the people in the story, and asks questions about what it means to be human. The book is concerned about relationships, how people connect, and what it means to be a part of each other’s lives. I feel like I’m struggling to describe the book, but I think that’s part of what makes it a really interesting read. It’s not a simple story. It raises questions and themes through metaphor. It bends time and perception in ways that you wouldn’t expect, and the story doesn’t follow a path that you expect. I’m sure that if you were to read it you would have a different experience of it than I, because it felt strangely personal, like the author had managed to get inside my head and was making me examine my own relation to the world and what certain things meant to me. Skyward Inn might not be for everyone, it has a very leisurely pace, and twists narratives together in unusual ways that might not be to everyone’s tastes, but if you like the strange, if you like stories that are multi-layered and get under your skin, this is probably something that you’ll really like. With strong, well defined characters, and some big questions on the very nature of what it means to exist, Skyward Inn is a book that will get you thinking.
So, Skyward Inn. It's weird. And character-driven. It combines science fiction with weird fiction and personal drama. Jem runs a pub in a region of Britain disconnected from the modern world. There's a spaceport in the area, but no one uses it. Before coming here, Jem spent ten years on the planet Qita with a Qitan named Isley. Her story unfolds slowly and revolves around the consequences of humanity's contact with aliens. She may also be serving a psychedelic brew at her inn. Either way, Jem's family and emotional life is complicated. Her son, Fosse, feels alienated. In addition, the people of the Western Protectorate are suffering from a strange illness, and it turns out that the story of Qitan's surrender to humans is different than generally believed. Interplanetary travel is possible because humanity has discovered a wormhole. After discovering Qita, a coalition of countries decided to conquer it. Only Britain has vowed to stay out of the war and live a rural life without modern technology. The residents of the Protectorate, including Jem and Isley, want to keep out of the war, but their decision is tested when a desperate visitor from Isley's past shows up one night. Skyward Inn isn't the fastest book around. Nor is it the easiest to get into. But those who've read Whiteley's works before will appreciate the subtle surrealism, the quirkiness, and the family drama. I love her writing style, but I must confess that I almost lost interest in the story. So look elsewhere if you're looking for a fast-paced, plot-driven story. But if you're more into literary and philosophical themes, you'll love Skyward Inn. Ultimately, it's a thoughtful book about how we as humans relate to each other and come together or break apart.
This novel took me longer to get through than I would have liked, but if you're looking for slow-burn and atmospheric sci-fi, this might be up your alley. I like how this is an alien invasion story that reads more like a family drama, blending the personal and the cosmic. The concept is cool and by the end, I had bought into it well enough. Next I’d like to read Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn to see if that adds anything to my reading. Definitely worth checking out.