Check out what I’m reading this week!
The once-beautiful domed neo-Victorian city of Bridges is split between four crime families in an uneasy cease-fire. Social disparity increasing and its steam-driven infrastructure failing, a new faction is on the rise: the Red Dogs.
Jacqueline Spadros has a dream life: a wealthy husband, a powerful family. But her life is not what it seems. Kidnapped from her mother’s brothel and forced to marry, the murder of her best friend Air ten years before haunts her nightmares. She finds moments of freedom in a small-time private eye business, which she hides in fear of her sadistic father-in-law.
Air’s little brother disappears off his back porch and the Red Dogs are framed for it. With the help of a mysterious gentleman investigator hired by the Red Dogs to learn the truth, Jacqui pushes her abilities to their limits in hope of rescuing the child before the kidnapper disposes of him.
The Free Brontosaurus is a novella comprising ten interweaving stories, complete with an accompanying album of ten songs. All set in the same fictional city, at the same moment in time, minor characters in one story are major characters in another. It is a bit like Olive Kitteridge, if reimagined by Miranda July. These are gently written narratives of isolation, describing characters disconnected from home and community. The book is full of dark humor, sadness and glimmers of joy. Ultimately, the characters’ abilities to find beauty in the bizarre connect and redeem them, offering the characters (and us) hope.
The book is only half of this project, though, for it also comes with a soundtrack, one song per story, written loosely from the perspective of the main character from each tale. Both the book and the album can stand alone. However, when the two are appreciated together, an unusually moving and multi-layered world is born, likely to break and heal the heart.
Deep in the bowels of the Coliseum of the mighty Astrolian Empire, the orphan, Sol, is raised by a makeshift family of guards and fellow slaves to become the most famed Gladiator in all the land. Alongside K’nal, his giant Frorian fighting partner, Sol must battle cunning warriors and fantastic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive. But when an oppressed populace transforms Sol into a revolutionary folk hero, the Empire sends its most ruthless assassin to put an end to the uprising. Sol’s only chance is to do what no slave has ever done: escape from the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.