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Consumed With Hate: Black Leopard, Red Wolf

🐺 I'm on the Hunt I'm After You...

The Crime: Black Leopard, Red Wolf
The Guilty Party: Marlon James
Overview: There is not a content warning big enough...

Why I Hate It...

When this book started hitting the hype circuit, the pitch was "Game of Thrones in Africa" and I was so excited for it. I don't know if I can overstate how much I loved the first three Song of Ice and Fire books, and taking literary epic fantasy and transplanting it into a world that isn't just another boring analog of Medieval England (or a world populated by dinosaurs for that matter) is catnip for me. And I'm not terribly well-versed in African folklore, so I was eager to read a large-scale fantasy rooted in that tradition. Well, unsurprisingly, the book did not live up to the hype for me, meaning I am now 0-for-2 in books that use Game of Thrones as a comp title in their pre-launch marketing.

I'll start by saying that, if nothing else, the prose is elegant. The texture of the world is nuanced, rich, and amazing. It's just a slog, is all. There's a good three hundred pages worth of story crammed into the six hundred-odd pages of this book. It's meandering and episodic with very little in the way of plot or character development to keep you going. Oh, the characters are well-defined, but they don't have arcs. Instead they wander in and out of the main thread of the story. Every fifty pages or so the heroes face a fight of some sort, then they stand around and exposit to each other.

Reader, beautiful sentences are not enough to keep me engaged. Honestly, it reminded me of Neil Gaiman, another elegant prose stylist whose stories I find meandering and unmotivated. Maybe I should do a post on my general dislike of Neil Gaimain (his writing, that is, he seems like a lovely human), just for the click-bait. Anywho, it all comes down to the fact that I don't like literary fiction that's loosely plotted, and this book is extremely loose in its plotting.

Oh yeah, it's also the rapiest thing I've ever read. Ever. By a substantial margin. And I'm not one who is triggered by sexual assault in stories. I mean, I don't love it, but I don't have the visceral reaction that some readers will. I got through all the extant Song of Ice and Fire books without issue. I got through that one scene in Lev Grossman's Magicians series. The one in book two. You know exactly which one I'm talking about. That wasn't a problem for me either. And yet, the rape(s) in this book bothered me. Not just the amount, but the variety. Men raping women, men raping men, men raping children, sometimes to death, animals raping people, giants raping people to death. Most of it's not particularly graphic--most of it--but there's still. Just. So. Much.

It was exhausting. There's a lot to recommend in this book, because the textures and prose can be quite beautiful. But I just don't know who I would recommend it to.

Next week, what is a chum and how do you go about scrubbing it?...

In CONSUMED WITH HATE, Kurt is revisiting media that he absolutely did not like one bit. See more posts.