Title: The Bruising of Qilwa
Author: Naseem Jamnia (they/them)
Genre/s and Tags: Fantasy, Queer/LGBTQ+, Novella, Fiction, Adult, Science Fiction Fantasy, Asexual, Nonbinary, High Fantasy
In this intricate debut fantasy introducing a queernormative Persian-inspired world, a nonbinary refugee practitioner of blood magic discovers a strange disease that causes political rifts in their new homeland. Persian-American author Naseem Jamnia has crafted a gripping narrative with a moving, nuanced exploration of immigration, gender, healing, and family.
Firuz-e Jafari is fortunate enough to have immigrated to the Free Democratic City-State of Qilwa, fleeing the slaughter of other traditional Sassanian blood magic practitioners in their homeland. Despite the status of refugees in their new home, Firuz has a good job at a free healing clinic in Qilwa, working with Kofi, a kindly new employer, and mentoring Afsoneh, a troubled orphan refugee with powerful magic.
But Firuz and Kofi have discovered a terrible new disease which leaves mysterious bruises on its victims. The illness is spreading quickly through Qilwa, and there are dangerous accusations of ineptly performed blood magic. In order to survive, Firuz must break a deadly cycle of prejudice, untangle sociopolitical constraints, and find a fresh start for their both their blood and found family.
Powerful and fascinating, The Bruising of Qilwa is the newest arrival in the era of fantasy classics such as the Broken Earth Trilogy, The Four Profound Weaves, and Who Fears Death.
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Thank you to Tachyon Publishing and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my owb.
This was freaking fantastic!! Loved it so much. I hope Naseem continues to write fantasy and maybe something similar to this but a full length novel. I will wait 😌
The Bruising of Qilwa follows a nonbinary refugee as they leave their home in order to find a safe haven for their family. When they arrive in Qilwa, they find a job as a healer in a free clinic, working for Kofi. As they settle in to their new life, Firuz finds an orphan, Afsoneh, who is also a powerful blood mage and takes her under their wing. Firuz promises to teach her what they know, but only in maximum secrecy. In addition, Firuz and Kofi find new signs of a disease cycling through Qilwa. Rumors of blood magic abound and Firuz is terrified for their family and the consequences of the disease.
This novella was amazing!! I loved it with my whole heart. The way Persian culture influenced this book was beautiful. I loved that the whole cast is QPOC, we need more books and novellas like this one. Also, who doesn’t love blood magic!? Sign me the heck up!
The other thing about this world that I think needs to be adapted in every other book stat is the way people introduced themselves. Pronouns were always included. Firuz introduced themselves as “they-Firuz” and I just love seeing pronouns normalized in fantasy. I need more books like this.
I loved the scientific aspects to this! It was so well done and while there is still some magic involved, it never felt like the science was completely unfounded. Which is something important to me as a scientist myself. I really loved seeing Firuz explore their magic and how they investigated the new disease.
This felt like a complete story. I wouldn’t mind if it had been longer, mainly because I want more time in this world. The ending made sense and though the pace definitely picked up near the end, it didn’t feel rushed. All in all, this is a must read!
The author has a rep breakdown and their own CWs here: https://www.naseemwrites.com/the-brui…
Rep: Refugee BIPOC nonbinary aroace MC with c-PTSD, BIPOC trans male side character, queer BIPOC female side character with c-PTSD, QBIPOC supporting cast, nonbinary side characters that use neopronouns, WLW side pairing, muslim inspired religious characters, chronically-ill side characters.
CWs: medical content, medical trauma, racism, xenophobia, mental illness (c-PTSD), blood, vomit, violence, death, child death, plague. Moderate: dysphoria, colonisation, genocide mentioned, disordered eating, self harm (pricking fingers/hand for blood), past mentions of child abuse, body horror, descriptions of corpses, trauma.