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A Taste of Honey Paperback – October 25, 2016
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"Wilson has woven a fractal tapestry of a world ― past mingling with future, exotic magic spiced with futuristic science, gods with too-human needs ― and set in it a love story as painful as it is beautiful and complex." ―N. K. Jemisin, Hugo Award-winning author of The Fifth Season
"One of our most stylistically and thematically original fantasists." ―Saladin Ahmed, author of Throne of the Crescent Moon
"[A Taste of Honey] tells a story that is as much about loss and memory as it is about the reclamation of one’s identity... a beautiful look at love in its many forms." ―The Washington Post
"Rich in invention and provocative in its themes... a model of concise, efficient storytelling." ―The Chicago Tribune
"Wilson displays his talent for tugging the reader's heartstrings and underplaying hard emotion, and he delivers a poignant and satisfying conclusion." ―Publishers Weekly
"Stylistically daring, diverse, & unabashedly queer: Kai Ashante Wilson's A Taste of Honey is the future of fantasy." ―The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
"A vivid and deeply satisfying romance set against a fascinating backdrop, A Taste of Honey will especially appeal to fans of speculative fiction from authors like Lois McMaster Bujold and N. K. Jemisin and will leave most readers agitating for more." Booklist, Starred review
"Wilson’s writing is beyond stunning, and the inventiveness of his world, his language, and his dialogue, are only deepened by his innate understanding of his characters, their rich emotion, and their struggles to live and love as they wish to." ―BookRiot
"The brilliantly original and fascinating worldbuilding is a lush background for a beautifully romantic fantasy, and the writing is rich and visually stunning. I am a Wilson fan for life and can't wait to see what he writes next!" ―Martha Wells, author of The Edge of Worlds
"An enchanting and heartbreaking exploration of regret set within a world of glorious magic." ―Ginn Hale, Spectrum Award winning author of Lord of the White Hell
"Written in a lyrical, songlike style, Wilson’s latest has a rhythm to the prose that is tough to suss out, but the effort is well worth it; the payoff is extraordinary and deeply emotionally satisfying." ―RT Book Reviews
"[A Taste of Honey] establishes Wilson as one of the most original and compelling voices in fantasy right now." ― SF Bluestocking
About the Author
KAI ASHANTE WILSON's debut novel The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps won the 2016 Crawford Award . His stories "Super Bass" and the Nebula-nominated "The Devil in America" can be read online gratis at Tor.com. His story «Légendaire.» can be read in the anthology Stories for Chip, which celebrates the legacy of science fiction grandmaster Samuel Delany. Kai Ashante Wilson lives in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
My primary issue with the text: I had to keep making a lot of excuses for the story in order to maintain my suspension of disbelief. Part of what I consider a good narrative voice's job is to make it easier for the reader to immerse and stay immersed in the world unfolding before them.
I have a longer explanation of this on my blog, but in interest of brevity, this is a shorter explanation. Lucrio's sudden Southern American English dialogue is jarring in the context of the voice the narrator establishes for the story, ESPECIALLY because he is speaking Aqib's language and somehow has a full grasp of slang that we, as readers, have no foundation for accepting as part of the world-building aspect at this point. Nor do we see any other characters engaging in slang or modern Earth equivalent swearing. (There are two exceptions, neither provided with any context/explanation either, and given in isolation.)
The other matter is the overall disjointed feeling that there's some worldbuilding missing. I found myself FREQUENTLY making the excuse, in a book club discussion, that this was a novella; it's shorter and there's a full length novel set in the same world, and SURELY these things that we experienced questions or gaps about were explained more fully and in more detail there. This became a mantra while reading. It is worth noting, however, that many reviews (even positive ones) describe this same feeling about the novel (SORCERER OF THE WILDEEPS).
That said, I still enjoyed this story and would recommend it for folks looking for second world/alternate Earth (I'm not sure which is the more accurate description because of the above mentioned gaps) that moves away from the northern European flavors so prominent in fantasy. The main character is homosexual and that is a key facet of the story without it being what the story is about. The intersections of identity that happen in the context of so small a story are complex and beautiful. There's love in its myriad forms; the struggle to navigate the ebbs and flows as they push and pull against each other feels like the heart of the story. There's joy and regret. Trust, betrayal, suspicion... a lot packed into such a small space.
The ending left me feeling a little cheated, initially, but also opened up the opportunity to more closely consider the whole text in a different way and left me curious about the world. It was a satisfying ending in many ways--an aspect so many texts fall short of achieving. Knowing what I know with the end's reveal, it certainly asks for a re-read.
I know that I will spend at least as much time thinking about and going back through the story as I spent on reading it the first time--and in my reading habits, that is one of the highest praises I can offer.
This book has a nonlinear timeline, jumping from present present to future present to alternative present. It's a bit hard to follow and to be honest it lost any semblance of a plot at about 60%. It recovers somewhat by the end and wraps up pretty well, but there was a good chunk of it that didn't seem at the time to have much point.
So 3 stars or 4 stars - I'm torn. I love a lot of this author's style, including his use of different English dialects to denote class differences (or class based language differences, based on where you learned it), when most fantasy has been done in an English accent since forever. I love that the settings are African fantasy rather than generic medieval European. His imagery is gorgeous and his dialog is wonderful.
So I've convinced myself to give it 4 stars. Not 5 because of the plot issue. But it's worth reading.
It is set in the same world (though not in the same time period) as 'The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps', but if ‘Wildeeps’ was a thrilling epic fantasy wrapped around a love story, then ‘A Taste of Honey’ is a thrilling love story wrapped around a core of epic fantasy. (The fact that Wilson manages to pack epic fantasy stories into a short novel / novella format is another one of his magic tricks.)
The story’s central characters, Aqib and Lucrio fall in love (and lust) at more or less first sight, and then have to maneouver around all sorts of obstacles to be able to see each other. In the telling of that tale, Wilson also tells the tale of the world and the society, and the grander schemes going on within the world: there are god-like powers being wielded, magic, palace intrigue, psionics, and mathematics. (The way Wilson weaves together science fiction and fantasy when it comes to what is technology and science on one hand, and what is magic on the other, is just one of the hugely enjoyable aspects of this story.)
I tore through this book, and in the end, I was left with a craving for more: especially more stories from Wilson that are set in this world of gods and men, science and magic, mathematics and psionics. ‘A Taste of Honey’ is a blistering good read, and delves further into Wilson’s highly original story-verse. I can’t wait to read what comes next.