Blood Over Bright Haven — M.L. Wang

Blood Over Bright Haven — M.L. Wang

Blood Over Bright Haven immediately sucked me in and I had to know, desperately, how the story continued. I finished it, bags under eyes, devastated, uncertain if I was ready for the next day. It is dark and addictive, and while there’s violence, it’s well confined to certain scenes and never does it get gratuitous.

We follow Sciona, who is appointed the first female high mage in the history of Tiran. Of course, this means that her fellow mages of past and present were/are men, and they have a thing or two to say (…and do) about it. At first, I was afraid she would be the token model minority, righting all wrongs and being a beacon of hope for all underdogs, but… the author is much better than that. While Sciona faces a lot of sexism, that’s the “only” issue she focuses on (and understandably so. It’s exhausting to be a constant object of discrimination, no matter what form). She is quite capable of discriminating against other groups on her own.

That said, I liked that the book drove home the idea that not all minority groups face the same struggles. As a WOC, people often expect me to be an expert in ALL minority rights. In Sciona’s case, her male peers downplay her achievements, criticize her for her ambition and “unwomanly arrogance,” and try to tear down any progress she makes. You would think that would make her sympathetic to underdog struggles, but she starts out just as racist as your typical Tiran citizen. Yes, she grows over the course of the book, but just because you belong to one minority group, does not mean you are an expert or even supporter of all minority groups. This is actually really important, because a lot of discrimination exists among and within minority groups but is often dismissed and overlooked simply because people don’t believe it happens.

Man, I went on a tirade there.

So, Sciona is not a particularly likeable character, but her journey is compelling to read because it is believable and realistic. You don’t change your core beliefs in a day because someone tells you to. You have to learn the truth, question it, and finally come to terms with it, and that’s what Sciona does. The world is fleshed out naturally, and the magic system is fascinating and well thought out.

Blood Over Bright Haven is a brilliant book. It’s amazing what the author does with 400+ pages.

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