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Three Parts Dead

From Max Gladstone’s website:

A God has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb.  Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.  Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in.  Her only help is Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead God, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

But when the duo discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and the city’s slim hope of survival.

I came across Three Parts Dead a few weeks ago when I searched for something along the lines of “What to read if you’re in The Broken Earth withdrawal”. Google, being all-knowing as it is, spat out several interesting suggestions, and I couldn’t help but click on the link that mentioned lawyers riding lightning bolts and resurrecting gods (because… really?!). Falling somewhere in the general realm of urban fantasy territory, the debut novel in The Craft Sequence series seemed like a book that might just wow me, so I bought it and got stuck in.

Friends – you need to read it.

World-Building

As the first published entry (but not chronologically the first story in the series) this book packs in a lot of information about its setting, and manages to never once fall into the trap of info-dumping. From the first scene, where our heroine is literally thrown out of a flying building into a desert, to our introduction to gods and how they work, Three Parts Dead simply keeps it moving along, trusting the reader to understand and sort the information being given. Gladstone manages to straddle the line between informing and badgering his reader through effective use of dialogue, and character perspectives. What the priest knows, our novice Craftswoman Tara Abernathy does not – so he explains. What Tara knows, priest-technician Abelard does not – so she explains. And in this way you’re introduced to a brilliant new world of weird.

Characterisation

No matter what genre you’re writing in, making your characters believable is no walk in the park. They may all exist as fully fleshed out beings in your mind as the writer, but getting that across to the reader without overwhelming them… well.

But just as with his world-building, Max Gladstone works to deliver a main and supporting cast of characters who are their own people (and gods, and entities in between). Their motivations are entirely their own, and he builds his story around them. So when we get to the conclusion of our caper, and all is revealed (wow, are there some revelations going on) you sit there and think… ‘oh yeah, that makes perfect sense, actually. Of course these folks would do that!’

Plot

For much of the story, I was happy to sit back and coast along on the tide of excellent storytelling. Then I’d stop and think… ‘hold on. That’s odd. I could have sworn… oh. OH.’

And really… that’s the best kind of storytelling. Read this book!

A representation of me trying to piece things together VS when they finally come together
(Photos by @mwabonje on pexels.com)

Honourable Mention: Describing Diverse Characters

There is a certain fear that one feels when one sees the kind of beautiful cover art that Three Parts Dead has. Immediate memories of fumbling attempts in creative writing classes where people described Black hair as everything from ‘wiry’ to ‘ coiled like tiny snakes’ (true story) only to see the picture they were trying to paint and think… Am I being Punk’d?! I’m not even going to go into all the things that I’ve read and heard any skin tone darker than an eggshell be compared to. Let’s just say “like fresh mud” is on the better end.

So how excellent was it to get to the end of this book and realise that I’d been given, through narration, self-description and character perspectives an image of what each character looked like and not once cringed? Very excellent, I tell you. Which is no small part of why I’ve decided to read the whole Craft Sequence. So, kudos for not being cringe to Mr. Gladstone.

Mood Rating: First of all, read this book. Second of all, be wowed. Third of all, read the rest of the series. And drink water.

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DRTY DIANA

Life just comes apart at the seams, sometimes, and DRTY DIANA is just what you need to remind you that you’re not alone. The web series centres on Nyaomi, a young woman who’s going through what we millennials like to describe as a lot. 

Storyline

Nyaomi is going through serious mid-twenties issues. She’s left her job, hasn’t found another one, and just can’t seem to get up the energy to deal with anything – not her friends, not her hookup, and definitely not the prospect of moving on. In fact, she’s so intent on not thinking about the future that she’s turned her home into a shrine to her glory days. Her walls are plastered with films and singers from her childhood. She rewatches her band’s old shows on YouTube and can’t let go of the things she wanted but never got. Somewhere through it all, there are moments of clarity and those moments feel both triumphant and crushing. Because, that’s what recognising your depression for what it is occasionally feels like.

A mess. An entire mess.

Realism

DRTY DIANA presents a painful look at what the spiral of depression can do to you. Each episode explores a different topic. The beauty of this webshow is that it doesn’t present you with a character who’s clearly going anywhere (except down) and ask you to hold on through the storm so you can see the clear sky. It just shows you a woman. Going through it. That’s it, that’s the whole show. For those who’ve survived and are surviving depression, this show offers the kind of honest slice-of-life representation that I personally haven’t seen anywhere else. The fact that DRTY DIANA ended prematurely is only offset by the plus side that… I didn’t really want to see a resolution. Because life doesn’t often work that way, does it?

TAGG… Why should I watch this, tho?

Honestly… I don’t know. I first watched this show years ago when I was stuck in a serious pit and going through what’s been my worst period since. Nyaomi showed me that I really wasn’t the only person going through this. And also put a mirror up to me as the same time. Nyaomi has the perfect storm going on – unrealistic body expectations, friends with toxic positivity and friends who’re happy to just have someone to wallow with, a hope that outside change will spark inside change. And, of course, the dull, screaming inertia with which depression suffuses your body.

I’m not selling it well, but the ultimate takeaway is that DRTY DIANA helped me when I wasn’t even sure what I needed help with. And maybe it can help someone else.

Mood Rating: Watch this on a day you’re ready for your entertainment to challenge your reality. Or if you just want to watch some dark millennial stuff, man.

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