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Audio ARC Review: What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix by Tasha Suri

Just look at this *gorgeous* cover!

Publication Date: July 5, 2022

Synopsis:

What Souls Are Made Of, British Fantasy Award-winning author Tasha Suri’s masterful new take on Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, will leave readers breathless.

As the abandoned son of a Lascar—a sailor from India—Heathcliff has spent most of his young life maligned as an “outsider.” Now he’s been flung into an alien life in the Yorkshire moors, where he clings to his birth father’s language even though it makes the children of the house call him an animal, and the maids claim he speaks gibberish.

Catherine is the younger child of the estate’s owner, a daughter with light skin and brown curls and a mother that nobody talks about. Her father is grooming her for a place in proper society, and that’s all that matters. Catherine knows she must mold herself into someone pretty and good and marriageable, even though it might destroy her spirit.

As they occasionally flee into the moors to escape judgment and share the half-remembered language of their unknown kin, Catherine and Heathcliff come to find solace in each other. Deep down in their souls, they can feel they are the same.

But when Catherine’s father dies and the household’s treatment of Heathcliff only grows more cruel, their relationship becomes strained and threatens to unravel. For how can they ever be together, when loving each other—and indeed, loving themselves—is as good as throwing themselves into poverty and death?

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My favorite of the Remixed Classics series thus far!

I wasn’t a fan of Wuthering Heights when I read it some years ago. There was too much tragedy, and the characters were all awful people. But I still jumped at the chance to read this because Tasha Suri is a fantastic writer, the synopsis is intriguing, the cover is stunning, and I have absolutely loved every installment of the Remixed Classics series thus far.

And it absolutely lived up to and exceeded every one of my hopes and expectations. I loved the split narration between Cathy and Heathcliffe. I loved their distinct voices and the way the narrators performed their chapters. I loved how, though they were distinct, their childhood belief that they shared one soul felt true. I especially loved how this story deviated from the original.

The character growth of both Cathy and Heathcliffe is immense. They do not start the book as ‘likeable’ people, either of them, but I was rooting for each of them to find themself from the beginning, and by the end I loved them.

The ending is a satisfying conclusion and very obviously a new beginning and I would happily read more books exploring where Cathy and Heathcliffe go and how they choose to pay the debts Cathy’s father owed as they set their ghosts to rest.

Speaking of ghosts, I loved the fantastical elements to the story. They were at once jarring and a natural extension of the plot. They felt right and true.

The discussion of the East India Company’s atrocities in India, colonialism in general, the way rich white men viewed all non-white foreigners, expecting them to be grateful to serve them, was sickening. The revelations about Cathy’s father were blows to Cathy and to the reader.

This story was hard-hitting and the language was gorgeous and kept the haunting gothic atmosphere of the original. I was riveted and couldn’t stop listening. I loved that I never knew what was going to happen. There were points where one of the characters would face a choice, and I could see where one choice would lead – to something like the plot of the original Wuthering Heights – and I would desperately hope they would choose the other path, even though it wasn’t clear what lay at the end of it.

I loved the element of found family that Heathcliffe stumbles into — I’m a sucker for a found family plot — and I really wish there could be a sequel where Cathy gets to meet them. I would love to see what she would make of Heathcliffe’s life and choices in Liverpool. At the same time I love where Tasha Suri chose to end the story. It felt… right.

This is my favorite of the Remixed Classics series thus far. Highly recommend.

I also highly recommend the audiobook because it is absolutely gorgeous and the narrators really bring the story to life. It is emotional and haunting and gothic and perfectly matches that gorgeous cover.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Feiwel & Friends, and Macmillan Audio for providing an audio arc for review.

Audio ARC Review: Valiant Ladies by Melissa Grey

Publication Date: June 14, 2022

**This Review can also be found on my tumblr book review and fandom blog (also called Whimsical Dragonette) here.

Synopsis:

Two teen vigilantes set off on an action-packed investigation to expose corruption and deliver justice in Valiant Ladies, Melissa Grey’s YA historical fiction novel inspired by real seventeenth century Latinx teenagers known as the Valiant Ladies of Potosí.

By day Eustaquia “Kiki” de Sonza and Ana Lezama de Urinza are proper young seventeeth century ladies. But when night falls, they trade in their silks and lace for swords and muskets, venturing out into the vibrant, bustling, crime-ridden streets of Potosí, in the Spanish Empire’s Viceroyalty of Peru. They pass their time fighting, gambling, and falling desperately in love with one another.

Then, on the night Kiki’s engagement to the Viceroy’s son is announced, her older brother―heir to her family’s fortune―is murdered. The girls immediately embark on a whirlwind investigation that takes them from the lowliest brothels of Potosí to the highest echelons of the Spanish aristocracy.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I LOVED this book so much. I have had high hopes for it ever since I first heard it announced — seventeenth century teenage Latinx vigilante sword lesbians? sold! — and it vastly exceeded my expectations.

Kiki and Ana were such great characters, and I loved their dynamic and their escapades. It was clear from the first pages that they meant everything to each other and loved each other very much. I loved their bond and the way their relationship and friendship strengthened as the events of the story unfolded. I also really appreciated their love of weaponry. The other characters were also very well-fleshed out and I came to feel strongly about all of them.

The villains were villainous (but not always obvious, which was nice). It was very satisfying to see Kiki and Ana stand up to them, especially when others didn’t always do so — for social or political or monetary reasons.

It was also really refreshing to see sex workers treated as regular people who are just as worthy of being rescued as anyone else? There was never any judgement or negativity toward them, which I loved.

The setting felt very real and… immersive, I guess? Like I totally believed I was there in 17th century Peru while reading.

Most of all, I had the best time while reading this. It was so fun and adventurous and it was like I was there alongside Kiki and Ana as the events of the plot unfolded. They were totally kick-ass and there was never any doubt in their minds about that fact. I will definitely be reading this one again.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Recorded Books for providing an audio arc for review.