That Self-Same Metal

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Pub Date 04 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 28 Dec 2023

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Swashbuckling, romantic, and full of the sights and sounds of Shakespeare's London, this sweeping YA fantasy trilogy debut is perfect for fans of Holly Black, Leigh Bardugo and J. Elle.

Joan touched her fingers to the blade, felt the metal sing to her. It whispered its secrets . . .

Sixteen-year-old Joan Sands is a gifted craftswoman and an exceptional swordsmith.

So skilled is her technique that she is one of very few women employed at the Globe Theatre, directing William Shakespeare and his troupe of actors in fierce scenes of combat. Of course, it helps that Joan is blessed with the power to control metal, thanks to Ogun, head deity of all Orishas.

But when a pact between the ancient Yoruba spirits and Fae is broken, only she can save the streets of London from peril. Joan must find a way to defeat them in battle by herself . . .

Okay, perhaps her twin brother James, blessed with gifts from Oya, can be of some help! And, despite the simmering tensions of a love triangle between herself, Rose, and Nick, Joan has a community of people to protect and who will protect her in return.

'Perfect for anyone looking for a fresh take on faerie magic.' Leigh Bardugo, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Bone

'A groundbreaking addition to the fantasy genre..' Ayana Gray, New York Times-bestselling author Beasts of Prey

'Every sentence will thunder through your bones.' Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves and the Aru Shah series

'Wildly imaginative and refreshingly diverse . . . taut with intrigue.' J. Elle, New York Times bestselling author of Wings of Ebony

Swashbuckling, romantic, and full of the sights and sounds of Shakespeare's London, this sweeping YA fantasy trilogy debut is perfect for fans of Holly Black, Leigh Bardugo and J. Elle.

Joan touched...

Advance Praise

'A fresh take on faerie magic.' – Leigh Bardugo

'Glorious (and very stabby!).' – New York Times

'Spectacular,' – Ayana Grey

'Wildly imaginative and refreshingly diverse.' – J. Elle

'A fresh take on faerie magic.' – Leigh Bardugo

'Glorious (and very stabby!).' – New York Times

'Spectacular,' – Ayana Grey

'Wildly imaginative and refreshingly diverse.' – J. Elle

Available Editions

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ISBN 9780571381623
PRICE £8.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 26 members

Featured Reviews

This was a fabulous debut from a very promising author and I had a GREAT time. As another reviewer said, it does *feel* like a debut--there are a few rough edges from a craft perspective--but I thought the core of the book was fabulous, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Brittany Williams' career and craft develop.

The standout for me in this title was the heroine. Joan was a fabulous protagonist: smart and pragmatic, confident and capable, while also retaining just enough teenage uncertainty. She's exactly the kind of lead I think is particularly valuable for the Black YA fantasy canon, and I can already tell she's a protagonist who is really going to Matter to a lot of Black teen girls who haven't had the same breadth of relatable and aspirational heroes to look up to as white teens. I especially loved how well she knew her own crafts of metalworking and swordfighting, and how much confidence she radiated in her--well-earned!--abilities. Speaking of swordfighting, I was also very impressed by the action sequences; they were fun and exciting and very well-choreographed.

The other characters were a little bit of a mixed bag. Brittany Williams I think has a great talent for character writing, and a clear love of secondary characters and the web of relationships in her world. I loved the entire troupe of actors *as a whole*, but I agree with another reviewer's assessment that there were too many side characters for most of them to have a chance to feel fully-developed. I think a cast of this size is a better fit in adult fantasy, where there's a bit more space and breathing room to develop them; That Self-Same Metal is very fast-paced, which is great for YA, but unfortunately left me with more of a fleeting glimpse of a lot of characters than a proper grounding. This was a problem most with the two romantic interests, especially Nick, who barely got any characterisation. Rose was better-developed, but as the core relationship in the book was between Joan and her twin (which I loved, and James definitely stole the show as far as the supporting cast went), having not one but TWO endgame-leaning LIs meant both they and the romances more broadly felt a bit thin. I expect these will be fleshed out in book two, but it was disappointing in *this* book when there was so much potential and obvious love for the whole cast.

A definite strength, however, was the worldbuilding. Brittany Williams painted a rich and textured but not overly bogged-down picture of Shakespearean London, and while a surprising combination she made the Orisha x Fae x Shakespeare mashup work beautifully. It was also just such a FUN read, and surprisingly light in tone for the way it did not shy away from pretty extreme gore at times (severed arm count: 3; severed hand count: 2 plus several stray fingers; eating-a-man-aliv-while-we're-in-his-head-and-he's-ecstatic-about-it count: 1). Topics of race and gender were very well handled; I'm impressed at how viscerally sick Williams made me feel at the kinds of both micro- and full on macro aggressions Joan had to endure, especially with the knowledge that while things are perhaps a touch less *blatant* today, they are still 100% there. The plot was compelling and fast-paced, and while I do wish it stood a little better on its own, I think by the end of the duology it'll feel very satisfying. Oh, and it was also a big ol' grab bag of positive representation, which I really dug.

All up, this was a banger of a debut that I'm very glad is out in the world and had a great time reading. Thanks very much to Faber and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for my honest review!

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Absolutely loved this wonderful hybrid of historical fiction and fantasy. Especially the fae. I also loved the uniqueness of the magic system that the Orisha god’s provide. And the love triangle as a fellow bisexual was chefs kiss! Can’t wait for more!

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Personally, I am generally a fan of stories that combine historical narrative with fantasy elements so I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed this book. Something that really stood out for me in this book was the magic system the author created, sometimes it can feel clunky to combine historical events with magic but this worked really well, and what’s a more perfect setting than in the time of Shakespeare?

I really enjoyed the protagonist, she’s exactly the kind of heroin I would have loved to read about when I was younger. She’s bold and confident, but flawed and relatable at the same time.

As far as debuts go this is a fantastic book that I would recommend to someone wanting to get into fantasy.

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That Self Made Metal was an enjoyable quick read.

The pacing kept the flow going, I didn't lose my interest throughout the story. The interlude was a great way to add some background and it was a nice breaker.

I found the magic system and the range of faes, very enjoyable. It gave the story a unique feeling to the world.

The side characters were enjoyable. Although I did love the side characters, I didn't particularly enjoy the indecisive yearning from Joan, it felt stilted and awkward. On the other hand, I barely remember what it was like to have a crush on someone when I was 16.

Overall a great debut, and I am interested to see how the next sequel will play out. * wink * * wink*

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3.5 stars, rounded up

This novel had an intriguing and compelling story and good prose, but it crammed a bit too much in its length, so the overall impression is that it ends up being a bit shallow.

I really liked the author's approach to the Fae, and the way the magic of the protagonist and her community was presented was also very intriguing, but it wasn't explored in any great depth - we're often told that there is a religious aspect to the magic, that there are rituals the community performs together etc, but we're never shown any of them. I hope the next book will go more in depth into those aspects.

The characters were interesting, and I particularly liked the sibling relationship between Joan and her twin, James. The romantic aspect, while it had potential, suffered from having to share space with the very intense plot. There were only a few interactions between Joan and her love interests, so the romance didn't feel very believable, and felt as though it was purely based on physical attraction (particularly when it comes to Rose, because she and Joan meet in this book for the first time, and don't have a prior relationship).

Joan wasn't a bad protagonist by any means, as she was likable and proactive, but I wish her internal arc had been developed better. It's deeply based on her relationship with her Head Orisha, Ogun, but the Orisha in general suffer from a lack of depth in this book, and I think Joan's arc suffered as a result. She can also be, for lack of a better term, very stupid, but she's portrayed as quite smart overall by the narrative, so it makes the writing feel inconsistent. Stupidity/naivete are completely fine character flaws to give to your protagonist, just as it's totally fine to write a smart character who has some blind spots, but it's not the case here: as I wrote above, Joan is overall quite smart, but she misses completely obvious things for what feels like no reason beyond narrative convenience.

Overall, this was a fun read, and it got me out of a reading slump, so I do recommend checking it out! It's a debut, and it feels as though the author is still finding her feet a little, but I do have high hopes for her next books.

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A magnificent faerie reimagining of Shakespeare's time, this is a strong and engaging fantasy with some really incredible characters. I devoured it and can't wait for the sequel!

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a free e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

When I first heard about this book, I was immediately hooked. Shakespeare and faeries? SOLD.

This book was a wonderfully fresh take on faeries and I absolutely love the way the fantasy slid so naturally into this world. It was easily one of my favourite magic systems in my recent reads, too. Between the way the MC's magic works and the rules of the faeries, I was absolutely entranced.

The fast pace and the beginnings of romance made for a really fun read and I look forward to seeing where the author takes these characters as the series progresses.

Overall, it was a fantastic debut and I look forward to reading more from this author!

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The plot was so interesting, I loved it! Loved that Shakespeare was a character. As a matter of fact, in a way this was a love letter to Shakespeare and I think it worked even if there were some things that weren't perfect. For example whilst I loved the characters, every now and then I felt like there were too many secondary ones and it became a little bit crowded.

The romance was fun but due to the fact this is a plot heavy story, there were only a very few scenes between Joan and her love interests what made it difficult to really get into that poly triangle.

I really loved the sibling relationship!

In my opinion this was a great debut and hope to hear more about the author's work in the future.

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