The Resurrectionist by E.B. Hudspeth

The cover of The Resurrectionist by E.B. Hudspeth. It has a black background and a grayscale drawing of an anatomical drawing of a winged human.

If you like fictional science, Victorian fantasy, great art and a creeping sense of horror, then “The Resurrectionist” by E.B. Hudspeth is the book for you. 

The book comes in two parts. The first is the fictional biography of Dr. Spencer Black that takes your through Black’s early education and career as a surgeon, the development of his strange evolutionary theories, and the experiments he makes later. 

So what is all this fake science? Through his early surgical work, Dr. Black comes to believe that birth defects and other abnormalities are caused by the human body trying to grow limbs that humans once had but no longer have, like wings, or a mermaid’s tail… and ergo mythical creatures were once real and also we should try to bring them back.

Snapchat of text, the highlighted quote reads, "Among the paper's most controversial claims was the idea that many so-called mythological creatures were in fact real species that once walked the earth. Black further argued that remnants of these creatures sometimes manifested themselves in latent trails, that is, genetic mutations."

The caption reads "You'd be surprised how realistic this is in terms of shit people got up to in the 1800s. There was real historical discourse about whether or not the mermaid was a missing evolutionary link."

So armed with the obstinate belief of many a Victorian scientist with bad theories, he sets about trying to prove this in the worst possible way. First he cobbles together fakes a la the Feejee mermaid, but then he decides to take it a step further and experiment on living creatures. He starts with animals… but doesn’t stop there.

Snapchat of text, the quote reads "Unhappy with the success of the anatomy show and grieving the loss of his son, Victor,

The thing I really enjoyed about this first part being presented as a biography are the questions and mysteries that arise, but due to the restraints of the genre and structure of the story, cannot be solved. He transplants wings onto a dog and then a young woman, and we are lead to believe that these wings work, but logically we also know that shouldn’t be possible, so then we wonder, maybe Dr. Black was onto something

Additionally, when dealing with late Victorian evolutionary theory, especially when discussing disability and birth defects, you always, always run the risk of running into eugenics. To my pleasant surprise, Dr. Black is never affiliated with the eugenics movement, in fact, they denounce him and his work.

This is rather a double edge sword of an endorsement, however. Like, yay, he’s not involved with the eugenics movement, but the denouncement also serves as a moment of “the people doing really fucked up shit think the shit you’re doing is worse” and let’s not forget Dr. Black was experimenting on living human beings by the end. 

Which brings me to my next point and major warning; there is a not insignificant amount of medical ableism in this book. Much of it is typical for the time period and field in which Dr. Black worked, but it’s still there and there were a small handful of things that I thought could have been done better from the perspective of the modern biographer of Dr. Black, but they weren’t enough to ruin the book for me. 

Two anatomical drawings a mermaid with each individual part labeled. The first is a skeleton and the skeleton with some minor musculature. Beneath the image is the label "Siren oceanus."

Part two of the book is a “reproduction” of Dr. Black’s seminal work, “The Codex of Extinct Animalia,” where he details his “discoveries” of various mythical creatures, from mermaids to dragons to centaurs. Each section includes beautifully detailed anatomical drawings of each creature, just like what might have been found in a regular anatomical text book of the time, accompanied by blurbs written by Dr. Black and a short explanation by the biographer. 

Ultimately, if you enjoy dark historical fantasy, science fiction and horror, such as Frankenstein, The Terror (tv show), or Dracula you might enjoy The Resurrectionist too. 

You can watch the trailer for the book as well as find links to purchase here.

If you enjoy my content, please consider buying be a Kofi or supporting me on Patreon!

Chasing a Legacy by D.A. Ravenscroft

The cover of "Chasing a Legacy" by D.A. Ravenscroft. A young blond woman in a green 19th century dress stands against a railing, she is holding a locket in her hands.

The snapchat caption reads: More incredibly sexy queer historical fiction.

“Chasing a Legacy” comes as a sequel to “Chasing a Ghost,” which is itself an unofficial sequel to Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables that reimagines the character Enjolras as a gay transgender man. “Chasing a Legacy,” unlike its predecessor, is much less unofficial sequel and much more original fiction. The few characters from Les Miserables remain, Grantaire, Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Marius, but the vast majority of the cast are new, original characters, in large part the children of the aforementioned  Les Mis characters who were first introduced as children in “Chasing a Ghost.” 

The central two characters are Marianne and Camille, the two remaining children of Enjolras and Grantaire. Both queer in some respect, Marianne has made a name for herself as a bohemian and courtesan and Camille followed in his father’s footsteps to become a lawyer. Marianne has tried desperately to be nothing like Enjolras, who she feels abandoned her, and Camille has done his utmost to emulate him while simultaneously blaming himself for his father’s death. The plot takes them through a complicated mess of political and social maneuvering and drama against a backdrop of complex familial trauma and present day trauma.

Quote from "Chasing a Legacy": Chapter 1, title, The price of a single shot may be a coat or a man

Paris, Francis, 1966

First line of the first chapter: "Slow your breathing. Do not show fear. Be like Father."

The complexity and messiness of the relationships in the book is indescribably good. They feel realistic and raw and they are so well constructed as they change and evolve that you truly feel the catharsis at the end.

"Chasing a Legacy" quote: "You don't need to be him, Marianne;  that's something I wish your brother would understand," Grantaire said. "You don't have to  make the  same mistakes he did. But do not deny parts of yourself because you resent him. Please." That same tender hand that had touched her face found her shoulder, clasping it firmly. "Take what he gave you - and do better."

Snapchat caption: The way this book  handles  complicated parental relationships is exquisite.

This feeling of catharsis at the end is added to by the fact that there a lot of very heavy subject matter in “Chasing a Legacy” that is handled very well. Sexual assault is a big player in the criminal side of the plot and PTSD is another large theme, but the trauma is handled tactfully and respectfully, and any ableist, misogynistic, or victim blaming language is both incredibly limited in usage and the narrative punishes those who use it very effectively. By the end, the relief and catharsis of justice done is palpable, though it’s hardly an easy road.

"Chasing a Legacy" quote: "If a fox gets caught in a trap it is not a failure on the fox's part," Elodie said. "It is the doing of whoever set down the snare. My brother is charming and clever, Nothing of this is your fault." 

Snapchat caption: Ugh this is such a good metaphor.

I will note, that while none of the traumatic events are explicitly shown, they are discussed in quite a condensed and rather intense way in a trial toward the end. If you have trouble with this sort of thing, I would recommend perhaps skipping over Marianne’s trial, (Camille’s, which takes place first, is a laugh riot), or reading slowly and in increments. There is a full list of potential triggers in the back of the book. 

It has been a long time since I have been so utterly hooked by a plot. “Chasing a Legacy” is over 700 pages and I found it nearly impossible to put down. I read the book in its entirety in two solid three-hour stints. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a complicated and extensive plot unravel so perfectly. I hardly know what I can say about it for fear of ruining the mystery! I’ll leave it at this, D. A. Ravenscroft has done what many a creative writing major, myself included, dreams of, writing the perfect multi-protagonist novel without the story being overwhelmed by one character or another. It is beautifully balanced and the plot has been interwoven exquisitely.

 Some other things that were done phenomenally well: 

1. I know I mentioned PTSD before, but I really cannot stress how well this was managed. We saw different manifestations of PTSD, sympathetic responses from medical professionals, period appropriate treatments that were good and effective.

2. Camille is autistic! Now the language surrounding this obviously not modern day language, but the indicators are there if you know what to look for. Camille is overwhelmed (overstimulated) by the ringing of the bells of Notre Dame. Has a particular coat (a plot important coat) that is just the perfect texture and feeling that it’s irreplaceable. 

Quote from "Chasing a Legacy": "He would mourn this coat - it had been his favourite, handsome and well-fitted with an inoffensive texture..."

The snapchat caption reads: My autistic son!

3. We get a major endgame mlm and wlw relationship with Fabien and Camille and Marianne and Elodie. You don’t have choose if you want to read a book about one or the other cause this book gives you both.

4. Fabien, love of my life, Camille’s love interest, is a trans man and Jewish, and his Jewishness isn’t a one off passing mention either. Although Fabien is a secondary character, he is an important one and we are afforded a look into his family life, his community and by the end…… stop reading if you don’t want a spoiler…… 

Camille converts to Judaism over the course of their relationship. We don’t see this, but it is explicitly stated in the epilogue. I just about screamed. 

This beautiful beautiful book with it’s beautiful beautiful cover art, can be found here, in several different editions: A two volume paperback, a two volume hardback, a single volume, brick-sized paperback, and an ebook.

If you enjoy my content, please consider buying be a Kofi or supporting me on Patreon!

Better Than The Book: A Look at AMC’s Adaptation of “The Terror” by Dan Simmons

On the left is the cover of "The Terror" book by Dan Simmons and the right is a promotional cover for AMC's "The Terror" featuring Jared Harris as Francis Crozier.

“The Terror” is an AMC show and book by Dan Simmons that is a fictionalized take on what happened to Franklin’s lost expedition. The fatal expedition that we’re still piecing together what happened to. 

When I went looking to read “The Terror” after having watched the AMC miniseries I was greeted by reviews on the Amazon page saying how much better the book was than the show. I then made the unfortunate mistake of reading the book.

“The Terror” book is many times more sexist, racist and homophobic than the AMC adaptation. It is particularly fetishistic towards the indigenous woman character as Dimmons seems to enjoy writing about them nude. There are also two widely unnecessary sex scenes, one uncomfortable to the point of nervous laughter and one just flat out gross. 

While there are only three female character in the show, the show does a much better job of giving them agency. Silna/Lady Silence, the only woman of color, in the book is mute and never speaks, in the show she is given the ability to speak until she becomes mute of her own volition. Furthermore, the racism in the show is predominantly the racism of 1800s British sailors, the actual dealing with indigenous culture in the show is, as a whole, much less unabashedly fetishizing and creepy as comes across in the book. 

On to the homophobia. It really does take a straight man to put two gay couples in his novel and then portray them both in two very different, but still bad ways. The big problem is Cornelius Hickey. He’s a gross little man in the show too, and still gay, but in the book it goes out of the way to note that he is a pedophile and his partner is coded as developmentally disabled and therefore easy for Hickey to manipulate. In the show, a different character is his boyfriend and his crimes reduced to just murder, which was always on the plate anyway. 

The second couple is John Bridgens and Henry Peglar. Their relationship is Soft and Tender, and Dimmons still fucks it up. Bridgens is a “Good Gay” because his and Peglar’s relationship is shown as sexless, they are allowed to be tender and keep their distance stationed on separate ships. In the show, they are allowed to be tender and together. This more platonic nature of their relationship is continued in a sense in the show, but they are allowed to be together much more than they are in the book, which stresses distance as why they’re the “Good Gays.” 

I will briefly mention that I am incredibly grateful to the writers of the AMC miniseries for removing any and all traces of the Crozier/Silna relationship and also that I am very irritated with Dimmons for unnecessarily and irregularly switching tenses between chapters. 

Now “The Terror” book is incredibly focused on Francis Crozier, he’s the main character and is in the show too, though to a lesser extent. One of the major things, outside of the gross shit corrections, that the show does well is to incorporate more historical accuracy. “The Terror” was published not long after “Last Man Standing?” the Crozier biography was published and, while I don’t know if there would have been time for “Last Man Standing?” to have influenced the writing of “The Terror,” it feels like it could have. The show, on the other hand, feels more like a love letter to “James Fitzjames: Mystery Man of the Franklin Expedition,” which came out several years later in 2010. In the book the character of Fitzjames is essentially a footnote, he’s there, he does things, he dies. The show gives us the backstory that Dimmons simply did not have when he wrote “The Terror,”  and y’all it’s good. 

Furthermore, the character of  John Irving is virtually unrecognizable between book and show. Again, likely because of new and ongoing research about John Irving, who does not as of yet, have his own biography. But the show again is more accurate in it’s portrayal of Irving. 

When it comes down to it, AMC’s “The Terror” is better in so many ways to the Dimmons book. If you haven’t seen either and are interested, go with the show. If you’ve seen the show and are considering reading the book, don’t. And if you’re like me and have consumed both, I’m sorry. 

If you’re interested in “The Terror” it can be streamed on Amazon and Hulu, and probably other streaming services as well. If you’re really that desperate to read the book you can find it on your own.

If you enjoy my content, please consider buying be a Kofi or supporting me on Patreon.

Chasing a Ghost by D.A. Ravenscroft

Cover of hardback version of "Chasing a Ghost"
Caption: Les Mis fan fiction you say? No, no, this is an Unauthorized Sequel.

“Chasing a Ghost” is an unauthorized sequel to Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” however, ultimately, no prior knowledge of “Les Miserables” is required for full enjoyment of “Chasing a Ghost.” Where “Chasing a Ghost” succeeds that some other published fanfiction does not, is that it can hold its own as a standalone historical fiction novel as well. 

And speaking of historical fiction, “Chasing a Ghost” has been impeccably researched. As someone with a passion for medical historical, all the historical medical tidbits are just excellent. My particular favorite is the early 19th century blood transfusion. It’s nothing graphic, but it’s fascinating and a real thing that existed at the time.

Now to plot. “Chasing a Ghost” picks up eight years after “Les Miserables” leaves off. We have some survivors of the barricades that don’t survive in the original text, namely, Enjolras, Grantaire, Combeferre and Courfeyrac, but if you haven’t read “Les Miserables” this means nothing to you.

Enjolras, the primary protagonist, has survived the June Rebellion of 1832, and is now living in a small town outside of Paris with his husband, Grantaire and two children, before an old friend comes calling and it leads Enjolras back to Paris and politics and perhaps another revolution. You did read that right, I said his husband in the same sentence as 1832. One of the biggest changes from the source material sees Enjolras as a trans man in a confirmed same sex relationship. 

This was ultimately one of the things that first drew me to the fanfiction on Archive of Our Own before it was published as a stand alone novel. Enjolras was a trans man who had a family and gave birth to his own children. That’s not a demographic of trans man you see frequently in the media and as a trans man who would like to have his own family one day, I couldn’t not read this. 

The author himself is also a trans man who has had a child with his husband, and the care and accuracy with which he portrays Enjolras as trans is a breath of fresh air in a sea of trans fiction written by cis people. The knowledge that Enjolras is trans is ever present in how he navigates his life, as it has been for trans people throughout history up to the present day, but it’s not the big hardship of the story. The more pressing hardships include, marital strife, dangerous political situations and another impending rebellion, among others.  

The more thing I want to discuss with “Chasing a Ghost” is the use of foreshadowing and Chekhov’s gun. As someone who came into the novel have already read the fanfiction and watching the author discuss the changes to the story they were making on their blog, I immediately knew the foreshadowing and I have to say knowing  it was in no way lessened my enjoyment of the story. I don’t want to spoil by saying too much, but I will say in this case Chekov’s gun is in fact a gun.

Snapchat image of book.
Book text: He felt shrapnel cut across his shoulders, tearing his coat, and then  a loud crack split the air close to his ear as Camille, blinded by panic, discharged Enjolras' flintlock into the smoke.
Caption: The gun in the first act must go off in the second.

Finally I want to mention a few content warnings:
1. difficult childbirth (where the blood transfusion happens)
2. child death
3. physician assisted suicide
4. alcoholism

The book can be found here, as an ebook, paperback and hardback.

Related Reviews: Dreadnought, Before the City Rises (18+)

If you enjoy my content, please consider buying be a Kofi or supporting me on Patreon.

Dates: An Anthology of Queer Historical Fiction Stories edited by Zora Gilbert & Cat Parra

Dates Volumes I and II, featuring one (1) good cat butt.

As a queer historian and fiction lover, the Dates anthologies are basically literary catnip for me. The art and writing in these volumes is absolutely exceptional. It is clear that the authors and editors put an immense amount of love and care into producing the works in these books. 

While the stories in these two volumes hardly shy away from the difficulties that present themselves in queer life, the stories are first and foremost, uplifting. These are not stories about the sadness and tragedy of being queer, they are here to bring happiness. More than just that, in a world where we are inundated with tragedy porn from cisgender heterosexual creators, happy queer stories by queer creators is incredibly important.

Volume one runs into some of the standard issues that a first volume can have. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it makes up for those rough edges time after time with the content it provides. Starting out with a comic set in prehistoric times, volume one of Dates really does have something for just about everyone, there are women who love women and men who love men, trans people of all sorts, asexuality, everything.

Volume two takes this even further, the few rough edges that I found in volume one are not present in volume two at all. It’s a longer book, which means it has room to fit even more than the first volume did. This is particularly noticeable in two stories. “The Ibex Tattoo” and “Intersexions.” 

“Intersextions,” you might be able to intuit, is a comic about an intersex person. Having admittedly read the two volumes a couple months a part, I do believe this was the first instance of a story featuring an intersex person in Dates. The importance of “The Ibex Tattoo,” comes from a different place. The point of view character suffers from some sort of chronic pain. It is as much a story about the place of disability in a relationship and a community as it is about the lesbian relationship this character is part of.

Before I wrap this up I want to talk briefly about themes. There aren’t super explicit overarching themes in each of the Dates volumes. There’s no subheader saying “Love” or “Acceptance” or anything like that, but as I read through the second volume and reflected on my reading of the first a few things popped into my head. The first volume, in my reading, seemed to hold stories that were particularly involved in seeking acceptance, either self-acceptance or acceptance from others and the second volume seemed to deal more in stories of transformation, of making choices, of change. Now this is by no way concrete, as I learned when trying to sort my own writing into categories, queer stories, by definition, tend to defy the ability to be categorized, but it’s something to consider if you’re trying to figure out which of the two volumes you might prefer, if you’re only looking to get one of the two.

You can find both volumes in both print and ebook form here.

ALSO: The Kickstarter for Volume 3 is live! So support it for more top tier queer content!!!

No snaps this time.

Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood


[Edit: Originally published December 18,  2016]

Mr. Norris Changes Trains is a very political book.Taking place in Germany during the Nazi rise to power those themes certainly fit the times. Mr. Arthur Norris, the titular character, is a rather… shady isn’t the right word, but he’s not entirely a person who should be 100% trusted. And those thoughts are made clear by many other characters throughout the book. He’s not a great guy and he is a little bit romanticized by the main character, William Bradshaw. 

Mr. Norris always has these plans, that he never quite tells William about about. William gets more out of him than most of his other friends do, but it’s still not everything. The last ill-fated plan, however, reveals all. Mr. Norris seems to be perpetually in some sort of trouble or doing something a little bit sketchy. Money troubles seem to be a kind of trouble that Mr. Norris has with some regularity. 

He does work for the Communist party, though he person he does work for doesn’t trust him entirely, which is ultimately, a very wise move. Like I said before this is a highly political book. Dealing with the heavy tensions between the Nazi’s and the Communists. It’s not overloaded with politics, however, nothing seems heavy handed or shoe-horned in. It’s simply that the political is part of these characters day to day lives.

There’s a gay character, featured as one could be in a book published in 1935. He’s queer-coded very well and I had him pegged well before it’s revealed at the end of the book. It is revealed, of course, after you learn that he killed himself while he was on the run from the police for offering to sell political information.

Some warnings:

Antisemitism. I think the time period and location of the story alone would let you know that this could be something that came up.

BDSM. Not something you might expect but Mr. Norris has a “girlfriend” who is a dominatrix. The BDSM stuff only comes up a couple of times, but it’s also not something everyone wants to see.

Violence, mentions of torture. This is pretty much exclusive to the last chapter. Though there are mentions of fights throughout. The final chapter deals with some of the things that started happening after Hitler took power.

You can find the book here.

Related Reviews: Christopher and his KindA Single ManGoodbye to Berlin


The Known World by Edward P. Jones


[Edit: Originally published November  19, 2016]

Set in the fictional Manchester County in Virginia, The Known World is the story of Henry Townsend, a Black man who owns slaves, and those slaves. One of the main characters the story follows is named Moses, but one of the beautiful things about the book is that it develops all it’s minor characters in such a way that they don’t feel like minor characters anymore. They all get their own backstory and a glimpse into the future. Of course there are characters that get more attention than others, but you can’t say that any of the characters in this book are underdeveloped. 

I found the structure a little confusing at first. The story is not told entirely chronologically. There is a major storyline that progresses chronologically, but in telling about the characters it often jumps around between the characters’ past present and future. It takes a bit of adjusting if you aren’t expecting the story to be told that way. In the end, however, I very much enjoyed the way that the book ended up flowing.

It’s kind of a heavy book, it’s about slavery. Not a book to pick up if you’re looking for something light-hearted. But also not a book that should be overlooked just because it deals with heavier subject matter. It’s an engaging read and beautifully written. The characters are some of the most beautiful complex and well developed I’ve read in a long time, you reach a level of attachment that leaves you devastated when something happens to them. 

Some warnings:

Death – human and animal.

Torture – this is a book about slavery, it features abuse and tortures that go in line with that.

Sex – There’s nothing super explicit, but it’s there.

You can get the book here.



Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz


[Edit: Originally published November 5, 2016]

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! is a book of interconnected poems about, as the subtitle suggests, life in a medieval village. Each poem is about a character, the poems end up interconnected if any of the characters interact with each other. There’s even a couple that are designed to be conversations. This is because these poems were originally designed to be plays. So technically, I guess we should call them mostly monologues and the one’s that are a conversation, dialogues. It would be very interesting to see these performed. 

 The poems have no names other than the character name and who they are in the Village, such as “Hugo: the Lord’s nephew” or “Taggot: The blacksmith’s daughter.” 

Because the poems are written in a medieval style with medieval language sometimes a modern reader might require an explanation. Footnotes are seamlessly incorporated into the pages. They’re listed on the side of the page, right next to where the note is in the text of the poem. Very easy to find as you don’t have to go looking for them. There are also a few pages in the book that give a little bit of history to help put the book and the poems in a larger context.

There are twenty-two poems total. I’m not sure I could pick a favorite because they’re all incredibly interesting in their own ways.

It’s a very fun way to get a look at this period in history, which is one of the things I really adore about historical fiction.

The book also has some absolutely fabulous art. There’s a little bit of art of the characters at the beginning of each story, and then there are other larger pictures interspersed throughout. On top of being beautifully written, the physical book is gorgeous in it’s own right. 

You can find the book here.

Julio’s Day by Gilbert Hernandez


[Edit: Originally published July 16, 2016]

Julio’s day is a comic I found rather sobering in relation to the other books I’ve been reading recently. It’s not dark, but it’s real. It tells the story of one man, Julio and his family over several generations spanning from Julio’s birth in 1900 to his death in 2000.

In the very beginning before the story starts there is a key of faces for Julio and each of the family members as they age so you can tell who is who. It can be a hair tricky with the art style to figure that out, but the key is very helpful and I referred to it several times throughout my reading. 

The story primarily follows Julio, but there are tangents that follow his sister Sofia, and then her daughter Renata and her son Julio Tomas, and then his son, Julio Juan.

Julio Juan is gay (there is a very nsfw sequence surrounding this), and towards the end it’s implied that Julio is as well but has been closeted and was in love with his best friend Tommy all his life (Julio is quite elderly at this point.) 

Both World Wars, the Korean war, and the Vietnam war, are touched on within the story. With various family members and other townsfolk and friends joining up and what happens with that. 

Other recurring things include a poisonous blue worm that causes problems throughout generations, starting when Julio’s father gets infected after eating a taco that was infested. If you have issues with parasites you might have a problem here. The portrayal of the illness the worms cause is also pretty graphic with bleeding and bloating. 

It is also heavily implied that Julio’s uncle Juan is a child molester and that he did things to both Julio and his sister Sofia, though Julio doesn’t remember. Children go missing and then Juan is always the one who finds them. Sofia has been vocal about her dislike of uncle Juan from the very beginning, though it’s never explicitly stated it is heavily, heavily implied. 

It’s a heartfelt and touching story, all of the characters feel incredibly real. It’s an excellent read if you can handle the darker parts.

You can find the book here.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


[Edit: Originally published on June 4, 2016]

I was in middle school, seventh, possibly eighth grade, when I attempted to struggle my way through the Iliad. I did it. I don’t remember it, but I did it. Either way, years later when I was just starting college, I heard about The Song of Achilles. It was the story of Patroclus and Achilles from the Iliad, but more accessible and with a focus on all the gay shit. 

It was the first LGBTQ book I ever read and boy did I need it. [Edit: This was not actually the first book LGBTQ book I ever read, but it was the first book I read after I came out. There was a book I forgot about. Whoops.] I wasn’t feeling particularly confident about my gender identity or sexuality at the time. I was trying to feel it out but I was being hammered with a million things that made me doubt and I was scared and this book was a life-line for me. Something queer I could hold on to. I can’t remember how many times I read it that summer. It was the one book I brought to Canada with me when we went to visit my mom’s extended family. I was surrounded by people I didn’t know and I was being misgendered 24/7, but I had my binder and I had this book.

The Song of Achilles, the story of Achilles and his lover Patroclus, is told from Patroclus’ perspective. We don’t meet Achilles right away. We meet him early, but he isn’t named until later. We meet Achilles when Patroclus meets Achilles, because this is after all Patroclus’s story of Achilles and Patroclus does not meet Achilles properly until he is ten. From there we see them go from friends to lovers.

The lovers part is what is so important about this book. This is not a book about the Trojan War, thought the Trojan War does happen in it. This is not a story about Achilles though it is about Achilles. It’s first and foremost a story about Achilles and Patroclus. There is a reason that Patroclus is the narrator. 

Patroclus allows us to see the human behind the legend that is Achilles, but we also can never forget that Achilles is half-god and more importantly, we get to see Patroclus. We get to Patroclus grow alongside Achilles. I knew the name Achilles long before I knew the name Patroclus. I think it’s time more people learned about Patroclus.

Now does this book answer the eons-old question of did Achilles top or bottom. No it doesn’t. But it far beats out the adaptations where they try to tell you that Achilles and Patroclus were cousins. They weren’t they were lovers and The Song of Achilles gives you their story. 

The biggest warning I would give for this book would be for rape, and discussion of rape. The scenes where this happens are sparse, and you should be able to skip over them without interfering with your understanding of the story.

You can find the book here.

Related Reviews: Changing Times, Love in the Time of Global Warming