THE SECOND MANGO
SERIES: MANGOVERSE, #1
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: FANTASY, ROMANCE, QUEER (F/F)
Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody thinks she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.
Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay — Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.
I loved this story! It’s short, but it’s so original and memorable.
It’s a fun fluffy adventure-quest set in a Jewish-based fantasy world. Shulamit is a dark-skinned lesbian with a chronic digestive-related illness. Rivka is straight but dresses as a man to work as a mercenary. Between the two, we get some brilliant discussion of feminism, sexuality and gender woven into the story. And there’s a horse that can transform into a dragon.
One of the things I really liked — somewhat unrelated to the actual story — was that Glassman uses Jewish words and references throughout, which gives the world a really unique feel to it. How often do we see non-Christian based fantasy worlds? What’s even better is that it’s totally unapologetic, she doesn’t italicise words or break the narrative to explain (although there’s a fab glossary at the back for the uninformed, like me).
As well as the awesome quest — solving crime, saving stone women, sneaking into a wizards keep — the story as two beautiful romances. They’re both well developed through backstory and all four characters were great. Oddly, I was rooting for both romances equally and really wanted everyone to end up happily.
I enjoyed this story so much it’s hard for me to write a really long review — just go read it! There were a few minor things that jarred me while reading — conversation was a little stilted sometimes, and there were a few awkward expressions, especially from Aviva (although I think with her it’s intentional) — but not enough to put me off. Things wrapped up a little too easily and quickly, but there were enough threads left to pull out for the sequel (I can’t wait to read the whole series!).