The Broken Kingdoms by N K Jemisin. Book review

THE BROKEN KINGDOMS by N K Jemisin. Orbit £7.99

Reviewed by Jenny Barber

Oree is a blind artist who sells her work in the streets of Shadow, where the newly freed godlings make their home … a home that’s become all the more interesting as someone is killing godlings. And Shiny, a strange man she gave shelter to, has caught the interest of dangerous people who won’t be turned from their hunt. But Shiny’s not the only one to have caught their interest and Oree’s going to have to dig deep to survive what they’ve got lined up for her.

Oree is a great character – resourceful and compassionate, and adapts quickly to each new surprise that gets thrown at her (and the surprises do keep on coming). And as for Shiny, well, readers of Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms won’t be surprised by the identity of Shiny, but what is a surprise is how sympathetic he becomes, to the point where some of the nicer characters from The Broken Kingdoms become unlikeable due to their treatment of him (which is totally understandable given previous events, but still…).  Very well played there.

On the whole, this is a lovely story, with prose that draws you in and keeps you hooked until the beautifully heartbreaking ending – except there’s that last final twist. It’s a personal thing, I think, and I do understand the need to add in some vague up-note after everything that went before, but that particular thing is the kind of end-twist I’ve read too many times before and it feels a bit cliché here. But don’t let that put you off, as otherwise The Broken Kingdoms is gorgeous.