Marla has her plate full once more: a young woman escaped from the Blackwing Institute where all the magicians too unstable and to dangerous to stay out in the world are being kept. That particular woman, Genevieve, is deeply traumatized, has been in asleep for years and has the ability to re-weave reality just by wishing it so. As if that wasn’t enough, a renegade Slow Assassin has come to her city to kill, with his organization at his heel to rein him in. With all of that to deal with, looking for a new assistant, dodging the usual attempts on her own life and redistributing the power in the city between the various mages seems barely worth mentioning.
Poison Sleep is an absolutely satisfying sequel to a book I loved. It’s imaginative, fast-paced and has great characters. It make me like the series even more.
Marla really is one of my favorite literary heroines and that she has been right from the start should tell you a lot alredy: she knows who she is and she’s unapologetically herself, but she can accept when she’s in the wrong and change her mind. She’s smart, pragmatic, an excellent leader. It’s one of those cases where I don’t know whether I want to be like her or whether I just want her.
Pratt keeps up the good character work in this sequel. Not everybody returns from the first novel (I would like to see B again), but the new characters are great as well, well-rounded and understandable. Plus, they keep up the excellent queer representation, so cheers to that.
The plot this time tackles rape and consent (among other things) with Genevieve and Joshua (and even Ted’s backstory a little bit). Genevieve was raped and was traumatized so much by it, she withdrew into sleep, her immense powers giving her a way to escape reality. But her nightmare followed her into the dream world where it started to grow more and more powerful. Admittedly, that story line was a little on the nose with everything. And could have done with a little more subtlety. But if you contrast it with Joshua’s story line, there is more to get from the book in that regard than is obvious at first. Joshua is a “lovetalker”, no matter what he asks of people, they want to do it for him, his beauty enchanting them, making them fall in love with him, desperate to please. So on the one hand you have somebody whose choice was completely taken from her, on the other hand you have someone who takes other people’s choices whether he wants to or not, which is also a lack of choice but with considerably different outcomes. That parallel isn’t really explored unfortunately.
But nevertheless, I enjoyed reading Poison Sleep. A lot. I love discovering Marla’s world that keeps delivering exciting new things that are at once perfectly natural in that environment and surprising. That’s not easily pulled off and I am totally here for it.
Summarizing: looking forward to more.