Karen Memory

by Elizabeth Bear

3 Stars

Do you happen to like steampunk or historical science-fiction, murder mysteries, lesbians, sapphic relationships, amazing writing, or Jack the Ripper retellings?

Well, if so, I recommend Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear. Just to be upfront though, there are some racial slurs in the book and Elizabeth Bear is a white woman and it was published in 2015, so that’s something to be aware of.

Now, a really quick summary of the book: Karen Memory is a prostitute working in the late 19th century and like all prostitutes, she tries to live an uneventful life and stay out of trouble. That all changes when two runaway prostitutes from a rival brothel show up on the door steps of Madame Damnable’s bordello. Things only erupt further when a dead woman shows up in their trash. Soon, it becomes a deadly race to find out who is killing women — before they end up dead too.

As mentioned, I found the writing absolutely stunning. I adore writing set in the earlier centuries that was written in modern times and it helps that Elizabeth Bear is a phenomenal world builder. I also enjoyed the characters: Karen was such a unique and refreshing character to read the perspective of and the other characters were equally as interesting. The plot, however, disappointed me. It was very basic and the ending was rushed and frankly a let-down. The murder wasn’t someone whom I expected but it also wasn’t someone who shocked me that much, so that sucked. Taking all those factors into consideration, I rated this book 3 / 5 stars.

Representation: Lesbian main character, Asian, Indian and Black characters, transgender character.
Make sure to look up the trigger warnings!

Jazleen H.

View in Library Catalogue: Print

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