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The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother. She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.


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The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother. She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.

30 review for Brown Girl in the Ring

  1. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    A story so original, Brown Girl In the Ring is hard to classify. I have never heard of Caribbean magic realism. To me this is more sci-fi with a twist of magic. The bleak Toronto hellscape of the future is completely believable, as are the characters who have a complex outer and inner life. None are more complicated than our heroine, Ti-Jeanne. She is a strong girl, devoted to her new baby and her grandmother, but also resentful of them some times. The made up language flows and sounds right to A story so original, Brown Girl In the Ring is hard to classify. I have never heard of Caribbean magic realism. To me this is more sci-fi with a twist of magic. The bleak Toronto hellscape of the future is completely believable, as are the characters who have a complex outer and inner life. None are more complicated than our heroine, Ti-Jeanne. She is a strong girl, devoted to her new baby and her grandmother, but also resentful of them some times. The made up language flows and sounds right to the ear. It is as if you can hear its cadence and musicality. Family ties are important to the story, and also family cruelty. There is quite a bit of brutal violence, so I would not recommend this for young teens.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    Sometimes, it’s a good idea to revisit a book you haven’t read in years. I originally read this book many years ago because the story premise intrigued me: a dystopian Toronto with a young, black woman as its protagonist. This was the first speculative fiction story I had found actually situated in a Canadian city, naming buildings and things I knew of. I was excited, and began reading, then I ran up against my stupid assumptions for speculative fiction at that time, with the biggest bias being, Sometimes, it’s a good idea to revisit a book you haven’t read in years. I originally read this book many years ago because the story premise intrigued me: a dystopian Toronto with a young, black woman as its protagonist. This was the first speculative fiction story I had found actually situated in a Canadian city, naming buildings and things I knew of. I was excited, and began reading, then I ran up against my stupid assumptions for speculative fiction at that time, with the biggest bias being, “Hey! This isn’t some period drama taking place in an alt-Europe! Or some secondary world that’s basically the US in space.” I don’t think I was ready to appreciate just how good this story is of a young, reluctant, single mother who was involved with a drug addicted young man, Tony, who works for a local gang. The young woman, Ti-Jeanne, also helps her grandmother, Gros-Jeanne, administer herbal remedies and treat peoples’ injuries. Well, I am now suitably impressed by Nalo Hopkinson's early novel. Ti-Jeanne is biding time, not thrilled with where she is, still wanting Tony, and not doing much with herself. When the leader of the gang demands Tony get him something, this sets in motion a chain of violence, but also Ti-Jeanne’s character growth, and her willingness to take on her responsibilities and accept her grandmother’s teachings. I can now see how wonderful the premise was of Hopkinson's protagonist, a young woman who was a person of colour, who was also a nursing mother, and who was the central figure in this story that wove Caribbean stories, tales and spirits in throughout the tale, and that examined the complicated relationships between different generations of women. I am so glad I decided to reread this book. I now have to read Hopkinson's other stories.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    "I can't keep giving my will into other people's hands no more, ain't? I have to decide what I want to do for myself." This is a review of Nalo Hopkinson's 1998 fantasy Brown Girl in the Ring. Spoilers follow, and a discussion of abuse. So What's It About? (from Goodreads) "The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways--farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so "I can't keep giving my will into other people's hands no more, ain't? I have to decide what I want to do for myself." This is a review of Nalo Hopkinson's 1998 fantasy Brown Girl in the Ring. Spoilers follow, and a discussion of abuse. So What's It About? (from Goodreads) "The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways--farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother. She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends." What I Thought I'm so glad that I read Baptiste's The Jumbies before reading Brown Girl In the Ring, because it actually served as a great primer and introduction for a lot of the Afro-Carribean mythology that characterize this story as well. The jumbies that featured in the former story are also present in the latter, from La Diablesse to the Soucouyants, and the fascinating and vivid lore is certainly one of the book's greatest strengths. I loved learning about all of the spirits, and I was particularly struck by the ceremony where Ti-Jeanne gets possessed by a god/spirit known as Prince of Cemetery: "Beside him, Ti-Jeanne giggled, a manic, breathy sound that made Tony’s scalp prickle. She rose smoothly to her feet and began to dance with an eerie, stalking motion that made her legs seem longer than they were, thin and bony. Shadows clung to the hollows of her eyes and cheekbones, turning her face into a cruel mask. She laughed again. Her voice was deep, too deep for her woman’s body. Her lips skinned back from her teeth in a death’s-head grin. “Prince of Cemetery!” Mami hissed, her eyes wide. She kept her rhythm going, but even softer. “You know so, old lady,” Ti-Jeanne rumbled. She pranced on long legs over to Mami, bent down, down, down; ran a bony forefinger over the old woman's cheek." I do have some questions about the way that the story was resolved with magic. The duppy that is Ti-Jeanne's imprisoned mother ends up being able to help Ti-Jeanne because of a loophole in the villain Rudy's instructions for her. What I don't understand is why an evil mastermind like Rudy would be so lax in his instructions, allowing for a loophole in the duppy's behavior towards Ti-Jeanne. The F Word In addition to its rich cultural heritage, another of this book's strengths is its post-apocalyptic vision. I've read a couple of reviews stating that her depiction of Toronto post-economic collapse would never actually come to be, but I think the worldbuilding is a kind of thought exercise demonstrating the lengths of abandonment and irresponsible behavior that city leaders could potentially go to if the management of a city was no longer profitable to them. It's a class and race based dystopia, to be sure, where the rich escape to the suburbs while the poor (largely people of color) are stuck in a city that has collapsed in on itself. Even though it's a bleak world, there is a lot of hope in Hopkinson's vision, shown in the ways that people continue to try to do good and help each other in spite of how desperate their lives are. Ultimately, Hopkinson ties this sense of community back to the book's themes of religion and spirituality: "Anybody who try to live good, who try to help people who need it, who try to have respect for life, and age, and those who go before, them all doing the same thing: serving the spirits.” I wasn't totally sold on Ti-Jeanne as a protagonist, mostly because she spends so much of the early book pining after her loser ex Tony. This is particularly hard to swallow because we also get Tony's point of view and know the evil that he is planning towards Ti-Jeanne and her family. Eventually Ti-Jeanne grows past this and comes into her own as a character, and I appreciated the book's emphasis on the struggles of being a young mother who is ambivalent about the thought of motherhood. Mami Gros-Jeanne is the most dynamic character in the story - she is gruff and terse and strict but fiercely loving and protective of her family. There is some discussion of the way that cycles of abuse may be perpetuated: Mami was abused by Rudy and went on to perpetuate the same wrongs against her daughter and granddaughter. Ultimately, she realizes the error of her ways: "You ain’t worthless.” Then she said the words she’d welled up inside herself all these years. “I do wrong to ever tell you so. You hear me? I do wrong.” I think the story's dichotomous understanding of male vs female power is a little too simplified for my taste, with all of the women in the story being nurturing, spiritual and long-suffering while all of the men are destructive, controlling and exploitative. There are ways to make statements about masculinity and femininity that feel a little more nuanced, I think. Overall, though, I'm extremely impressed that this was Hopkinson's first novel and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books. About the Author (from her website) "I was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1960, to Freda and Slade. My brother Keita came in 1966. My birth family has lived in Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, the U.S, and Canada. I began reading at age 3, and was reading Homer's Iliad and Kurt Vonnegut by age 10. My favourite fiction has always been the various forms of fantastical fiction; everything from Caribbean folklore to Ursula K. Le Guin's science fiction and fantasy. I began writing in the genre somewhere around 1993, and sold a couple of short stories before I attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writing Workshop -- then held at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, USA -- in 1995. In 1997 I won the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest for my novel Brown Girl in the Ring, which Warner Aspect then published in 1998. I've written and published nine books of fiction and a number of short stories, and I've won some literary awards. I now live in Southern California in the U.S, and am a professor of Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside, where I'm a member of a faculty research cluster in Science Fiction. I sew, craft objects in whichever media strike my fancy, design fabric, and cook food that mostly turns out pretty well. I have fibromyalgia, and was diagnosed relatively late in life with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder and Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, which explained a lot. I like moderate sunshine, love bopping around in the surf, and dream of one day living in a converted church, fire station or library. Or in a superadobe monolithic dome home."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    I’m a very big fan of Nalo Hopkinson, having absolutely loved her novel Midnight Robber, and having enjoyed many of her stories in her collection Skin Folk. This novel, her first, featured some of her best qualities: a vividly alive sense of place and culture, and a welcome willingness to blend the mundane with the fantastical. But overall, I couldn’t help but feel that it was a first novel, lacking some of the confidence that was on display in her other work; there was a tendency she seemed to I’m a very big fan of Nalo Hopkinson, having absolutely loved her novel Midnight Robber, and having enjoyed many of her stories in her collection Skin Folk. This novel, her first, featured some of her best qualities: a vividly alive sense of place and culture, and a welcome willingness to blend the mundane with the fantastical. But overall, I couldn’t help but feel that it was a first novel, lacking some of the confidence that was on display in her other work; there was a tendency she seemed to have here of over-explaining emotional beats and story logic. And the plot felt less fully-realized than it could have been, instead becoming a series of unfortunate events. I will still seek out more of her work, but I would recommend Midnight Robber before I would recommend this novel.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joe Valdez

    The next stop in my end-of-the-world reading marathon was Brown Girl in the Ring, the 1998 debut novel by Nalo Hopkinson, a Jamaican born and Canadian bred author. The book doesn't fit in among the doomsday thrillers I've been reading and to even call this "science fiction" would be false advertising on my part. I was in the mood for something different, a blast of fresh air among the abandoned post-apocalyptic streets, but even by its own standards, the novel really disappointed me. The story ta The next stop in my end-of-the-world reading marathon was Brown Girl in the Ring, the 1998 debut novel by Nalo Hopkinson, a Jamaican born and Canadian bred author. The book doesn't fit in among the doomsday thrillers I've been reading and to even call this "science fiction" would be false advertising on my part. I was in the mood for something different, a blast of fresh air among the abandoned post-apocalyptic streets, but even by its own standards, the novel really disappointed me. The story takes place in Toronto, where a lawsuit by the Temagami Indian tribe and an international ban on imports of the temagami pine have led to economic collapse in the city. Government has fled to the suburbs, leaving the poor, the weak or the willful to fend for themselves, along with criminal elements preying on them. The situation is like a civil version of the movie Escape From New York and with a little imagination, could almost apply to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Like Escape From New York and so many science fiction tales, the plot is triggered by a presidential crisis. The infirm Canadian premier is desperate for a heart transplant. Trailing in a bid for re-election, her staff see an opportunity to use public distaste of animal organ farming by declining a pig's heart and resorting to a human one. Complications arise finding a suitable donor in time, so they reach out to Rudy Sheldon, criminal overlord of Toronto, to get them a human heart, stat. Ti-Jeanne is a young, unwed mother who's left her baby's father, a sweet-talking deadbeat named Tony whose addiction to a narcotic called buff cost him his hospital job and pushed him into the employ of Rudy Sheldon. Ti-Jeanne now lives with her surviving family, her grandmother Mami Gros-Jeanne, a medicine woman and practitioner of Afro-Caribbean magic. With Ti-Jeanne's unnamed infant son "Baby", they live in the ruins of Riverdale Farm, formerly a civic recreation space made to resemble a working farm. Young Ti-Jeanne has begun to experience terrifying visions of supernatural creatures of Afro-Caribbean myth: a tall, red creature with a mask for a face known as a Jab-Jab, and a dried up old woman with blue flame leaping from her body called a Soucouyant. Ti-Jeanne finally confides her visions to her grandmother, who reveals that her mother was afflicted with similar visions and was eventually driven mad by them. The women receive an uninvited guest in Tony, who'd been dispatched with one of Rudy's men to kill an organ donor, but fled when he couldn't go through with the deed. Mami agrees to help, taking the couple to the Toronto Crematorium Chapel where she performs religious rites. She summons Papa Osain, a healing spirit, who makes both Ti-Jeanne and Tony invisible through dawn, so long as a rose which Tony offered his lover is kept on Ti-Jeanne's person. The two seek to flee Toronto. The novel I've just described is much more adventure oriented than what we ultimately get with Brown Girl in the Ring. There's a dystopian, ticking clock thriller with supernatural elements and a young couple on the run that lurks between the pages, as well as some very imaginative table setting, but the novel unravels into a lukewarm mess, with flimsy characters, stylistic elements that fail to mesh together, ridiculous hocus pocus and chapter breaks that stops the story cold. Flaws, flaws and more flaws: -- Flaky characters. Ti-Jeanne is one of the most useless heroines I've encountered in fiction in some time. A baby who's birthed a baby, she's living in an abandoned city with no discernible skills and turns into a doormat when her baby's drug addict hoodlum father talks sweet to her. Contrast that with a character like Ree Dolly in Winter's Bone, who's much younger and grows up with much less parental supervision. Ti-Jeanne breathes through her mouth clear through to the end of the book. As Mami says continually, "Stupidness!" If Ti-Jeanne acts like she's got no brain and no spine, Tony is an even bigger fool, messing with criminals and refusing to follow the instructions the women give to help him escape. -- I would've preferred a novel that explored Afro-Caribbean magic in Toronto, or one that rampaged across a dystopian Toronto, but not both at the same time. At 247 pages, this book seems too dense to deal with both fantasy and science fiction in a satisfying way. Science fiction is given to bloat and to throwing too many ingredients into the pot, but in this case, the story just didn't come together for me. -- I have an extreme dislike for deus ex machina and for authors who bail their characters out with divine intervention. Hopkinson steps in a mess with this. There are spirits taking possession of bodies, spirits guiding characters, spirits crossing over to wipe out the bad guys. Again, it seemed as if Ti-Jeanne was the least active character in the story. Sending in a spirit to lead characters out of danger rather than the characters overcoming obstacles is weak writing at best, laziness at worst. -- Another thing that bothered me was the overuse of nursery rhymes, chants, call and responses, song lyrics and so forth as scene breaks. Two or three in a novel of this size would've been enough, but it seems like Hopkinson throws one in every ten pages. Like like blurbs and dedications, my eyes skip right over speed bumps like this and got in the way of what I read books for: the story. I always hope to discover something different when I read genre fiction. Stories with a diversity of character, in this case, black women at the controls, was something I was really looking forward to. Hopkinson demonstrates vision when it comes to imagining the ruins of Toronto. Some of the magic is interesting too, but it's table dressing. The characters and story never materialized for me. I was intrigued enough to finish the book, but would not recommend it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This is a dystopian science fiction novel set in the Toronto of the future, where the centre of the city has been isolated and abandoned following riots and is now ruled by a crime lord whilst the rest of society has moved out of the city. The inhabitants of the city get along by barter and people grow things and there is still some trade with the outside world. There is little law and order, plenty of violence and feral children roam the streets, some of whom periodically disappear. The novel r This is a dystopian science fiction novel set in the Toronto of the future, where the centre of the city has been isolated and abandoned following riots and is now ruled by a crime lord whilst the rest of society has moved out of the city. The inhabitants of the city get along by barter and people grow things and there is still some trade with the outside world. There is little law and order, plenty of violence and feral children roam the streets, some of whom periodically disappear. The novel revolves around Ti-Jeanne and her lover Tony who is a henchman of the crime lord Rudy. The plot is a little far-fetched and involves the harvesting of organs. Central to the plot though are strong female characters, all of whom are Caribbean Canadian. Ti-Jeanne and her grandmother have the skill of healing passed through the generations, they also have contact with the spirit world and practice Obeah. The novel is effectively a struggle between good and evil and the tension between use of Obeah powers for good or evil. This is Hopkinson’s first novel and was recommended by Octavia Butler, which drew me to it. There is some local and Caribbean idiom present, which isn’t off putting and isn’t difficult to understand. Hopkinson argues that science fiction is a good way of portraying the lives of outsiders and can provide hope because it suggests paradigm shifts which other genres may not so easily do. She feels science fiction offers hope of change: “I tend not to read what I would call ‘mimetic’ fiction or fiction that is imitating reality. In mimetic fiction the world is not reflecting me back to myself.… I grew up so depressed, I felt there was no room for me in the world. Reading mimetic fiction just feels to me like more depression.” It can be noted that Ti-Jeanne is a female version of Walcott’s Ti-Jean from his play Ti-Jean and his Brothers, but instead of a fraternal trio, there is a maternal trio. The women throughout are striving to make things better and are coming up against male violence and male structures. This is certainly a feminist reworking of Obeah, used for the good of society and in direct conflict with evil. There is some graphic violence and the ending is a little too well tied up, but this is a first novel. I have to ask, would I read more by this author and yes I would. She does interesting things with myth, reworking in a feminist way.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This is the second Nalo Hopkinson book that has been a struggle for me to read, and I am really not sure why (this, and Midnight Robber). Neither plot rocked me, nor did I identify with the characters. I continue to hold out hope, as Ms. Hopkinson is now a Grandmaster, and I have a few of her stories still to read. ===== Here, we have a genre hybrid of social SF (abandoned inner-city Toronto) with fantasy elements of spirits and "voodoo" magics (Ms. Hopkinson does both genres excellently) in one wo This is the second Nalo Hopkinson book that has been a struggle for me to read, and I am really not sure why (this, and Midnight Robber). Neither plot rocked me, nor did I identify with the characters. I continue to hold out hope, as Ms. Hopkinson is now a Grandmaster, and I have a few of her stories still to read. ===== Here, we have a genre hybrid of social SF (abandoned inner-city Toronto) with fantasy elements of spirits and "voodoo" magics (Ms. Hopkinson does both genres excellently) in one woman's coming of age and destiny. Last of my TBR-20 books.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dawn C

    Wow wow wow. I’ve encountered Carribean folklore before but never so fleshed out and multi faceted as in this book, where spirits have personality and thought and wants and wishes, all the things I love about Greek and Nordic mythology as well. “Brown Girl in the Ring” is an apt title for our MC who unwillingly finds herself in the middle of a fight between her ex and his drug lord, the dark magic the boss meddles in, and her own private family drama of a missing mother and a grandmother who’s in Wow wow wow. I’ve encountered Carribean folklore before but never so fleshed out and multi faceted as in this book, where spirits have personality and thought and wants and wishes, all the things I love about Greek and Nordic mythology as well. “Brown Girl in the Ring” is an apt title for our MC who unwillingly finds herself in the middle of a fight between her ex and his drug lord, the dark magic the boss meddles in, and her own private family drama of a missing mother and a grandmother who’s intend on teaching her the ways of serving the spirits, working as a healer in a run down area of town. This connection to the many spirits of Carribean mythology is a big part of the story, set in a dystopian, crumbled Toronto society, and it turned out to be much more personal and moving than I had expected. All aspects of the story come together beautifully, seamlessly, and nothing feels out of place. It’s a study of the human condition in the face of danger, and the acceptance of things that are bigger than you. I’m impressed beyond words. This would make an excellent supernatural horror series or film on Netflix. Just sayin’.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allison Hurd

    A near-dystopic version of Toronto with a strong Afro-Caribbean mythos makes for an original, violent and yet very human urban fantasy. CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)[ graphic violence, domestic violence, torture, body horror, animal slaughter, medical procedures, drug addiction (hide spoiler)] Things to love: -Ti-Jeanne and Mami. I think a lot of people would feel a connection to their relationship. They felt honest--flawed, well-meaning, part of a rel A near-dystopic version of Toronto with a strong Afro-Caribbean mythos makes for an original, violent and yet very human urban fantasy. CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)[ graphic violence, domestic violence, torture, body horror, animal slaughter, medical procedures, drug addiction (hide spoiler)] Things to love: -Ti-Jeanne and Mami. I think a lot of people would feel a connection to their relationship. They felt honest--flawed, well-meaning, part of a relationship that has a lot of history. -The setting. You don't see too much about real Canada in mainstream books! This world felt really tangible--I could see the streets, I could feel the decay. It was wild. -The mythology. She's brilliant at blending traditions, at making the supernatural seem normal. And also we don't get enough of the spirits presented here. So cool and different from a lot of the other worlds we see more often. I loved the macabre, laughing Jab Jab, and I've always loved the stories of the Soucoyant! Amazing. -The narrative structure. A few different POVs, lots of inclusion (pregnant people, old people, sick but not disabled people, street kids, obviously people of color, lots of faiths, immigrants, even a gay couple!), liberal but not distracting use of pidgin, code-switching...I mean it's all here and felt very natural. Things that felt weaker: -The story. It's pretty straight forward. You know roughly how it's going to end before you're even halfway done. This was her first published work and I think it shows. I've read a later work of hers that is much more confident and "messy" in that the plot points are more robust. But still, not a bad story, just not as fleshed out as the characters and her writing style. -Some missing details. I'd have liked a bit more on some of the outstanding mysteries. A few things were just assumed into the background that could have used more time. Spoilers here (view spoiler)[ Like who Mi-Jeanne's baby-daddy is, why Mami didn't try to stop Rudy sooner, what it means to have Dunston in Baby's body, why Baby wasn't named, if Mami was still considered a priestess, what happened once the posse were removed (hide spoiler)] Actually, I think that's really it. If it had been a bit fuller a story, it would have been perfection. I thin this is a great intro to her writing as Midnight Robber is both more horrific and wilder in structure, language, pacing and the rest. This was fairly tame, in that urban fantasy fans will find the groove pretty quickly, I think, but novel enough that it's worth your time. I'd recommend to people who want a quick, fascinating UF or light horror fantasy with a different edge.

  10. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    This was amazing. Such a fantastic exciting SFF read. In a future Canada Toronto has collapsed--no food, no electricity, the city a no go zone of survivors just getting by, and ruled by a malevolent crime lord who uses dark magic to get his way. The story centres on one young woman from a Caribbean family whose grandmother is a healer and communicator with the old spirits, plus and the motivating plot driver is the Canadian PM's need for a donor human heart for a transplant. The modern/futuristi This was amazing. Such a fantastic exciting SFF read. In a future Canada Toronto has collapsed--no food, no electricity, the city a no go zone of survivors just getting by, and ruled by a malevolent crime lord who uses dark magic to get his way. The story centres on one young woman from a Caribbean family whose grandmother is a healer and communicator with the old spirits, plus and the motivating plot driver is the Canadian PM's need for a donor human heart for a transplant. The modern/futuristic and magical elements are perfectly blended. What I liked most about this book is Ti-Jeanne, our heroine. She's not a character who usually gets to be the centre of things: she's a young black single mother with a no-good druggie as babyfather, living at home, no future, no drive. That's a character who normally gets to be set dressing or Tragic Early Victim, at best a white saviour's prop. Here, she's the heroine, and Ti-Jeanne's journey to find courage, trust herself, and grow into a powerful woman is just glorious to read. This is very much a book about strong women, women fighting together, flawed and difficult women who make mistakes, but are, in the end, the ones who are going to *sort this shit out*. Oooh it was a joy. *wriggles* A really compelling read and the Caribbean magic is wonderfully done. Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    YouKneeK

    Brown Girl in the Ring is a standalone fantasy/horror book. This was my first time reading anything by Nalo Hopkinson. Even though I have a couple complaints, I enjoyed the story more and more as it progressed. There are a few POV characters, but mostly the story focuses on a young, single mother named Ti-Jeanne. She has been having strange, terrifying visions. Meanwhile her ex(ish) deadbeat boyfriend Tony, the father of her young baby, has gotten mixed up with a dangerous posse led by a man who Brown Girl in the Ring is a standalone fantasy/horror book. This was my first time reading anything by Nalo Hopkinson. Even though I have a couple complaints, I enjoyed the story more and more as it progressed. There are a few POV characters, but mostly the story focuses on a young, single mother named Ti-Jeanne. She has been having strange, terrifying visions. Meanwhile her ex(ish) deadbeat boyfriend Tony, the father of her young baby, has gotten mixed up with a dangerous posse led by a man who practices dark magic. Although I didn’t find the book scary, I’d say it definitely leans toward the horror side of fantasy. There are spirits, dark magic, possession by spirits, and a fairly high amount of violence. And the inevitable tarot cards make one appearance. These are actually the horror tropes I tend to enjoy more, as opposed to the “monster books” (like vampires or zombies or whatever) which often become tedious to me. The author was born in Jamaica and I believe the story is based on Caribbean mythology which I was completely unfamiliar with, so I also enjoyed that aspect. Most of the dialogue is written in a Caribbean dialect. A few sentences required re-reading before I could parse them, but for the most part it wasn’t difficult to follow. Mostly it was just different grammar. So for the most part I enjoyed it. I liked the writing style, and it had a different and unique vibe versus other books I typically read lately. However, I did think the story was a little predictable. I seemed to know where things were going well in advance, except for some of the events toward the end. I also got frustrated with Ti-Jeanne’s obsession with Tony. I felt like it was belabored more than necessary to get the point across to the reader and it grew tiresome to read about. There were also a few events that didn’t quite cross the line into being too convenient in my eyes, but they definitely toed that line. I had a really hard time deciding on a rating. I’m comfortable with giving it 3.5 stars, but I had trouble deciding whether to round up or down on Goodreads. I eventually decided to round down. 3 stars doesn’t properly represent my enjoyment level and it makes me feel a little stingy, but I can’t justify 4 stars given some of my complaints. I still thought it was a solid read and I’d be interested in trying other books by the author at some point in the future.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    After reading Falling In Love with Hominids, I was determined to go back and read every book Hopkinson has ever written. Brown Girl In the Ring is her first novel, and it’s a powerful beginning to a body of work. It takes place in dystopian Toronto, but it is just as much about the complicated relationships the women in this family have with each other as it is about organ farms. That’s not even mentioning the pantheon of gods that keep trying to force themselves into Ti-Jeanne’s life, while she After reading Falling In Love with Hominids, I was determined to go back and read every book Hopkinson has ever written. Brown Girl In the Ring is her first novel, and it’s a powerful beginning to a body of work. It takes place in dystopian Toronto, but it is just as much about the complicated relationships the women in this family have with each other as it is about organ farms. That’s not even mentioning the pantheon of gods that keep trying to force themselves into Ti-Jeanne’s life, while she has enough on her plate just trying to take care of her baby and avoid her charming but dangerous ex-boyfriend. This novel teems with life and seems to expand beyond its pages. I can’t wait to binge-read the rest of Hopkinson’s back list. — Danika Ellis From The Best Books We Read in December: http://bookriot.com/2015/12/23/riot-r...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Spines

    Brown Girl in the Ring is set in a future dystopian Toronto, where the wealthy have fled to the suburbs following a large-scale economic collapse fuelled by failed negotiations with local First Nations communities. Infused with magical realism, it follows Ti-Jeanne as she reconnects with her Caribbean culture, largely via her grandmother, Gros-Jeane (who is, as one may call her, an obeah woman) to take down a local gang lord, Rudy. At first, I really connected with Ti-Jeanne, a single mother with Brown Girl in the Ring is set in a future dystopian Toronto, where the wealthy have fled to the suburbs following a large-scale economic collapse fuelled by failed negotiations with local First Nations communities. Infused with magical realism, it follows Ti-Jeanne as she reconnects with her Caribbean culture, largely via her grandmother, Gros-Jeane (who is, as one may call her, an obeah woman) to take down a local gang lord, Rudy. At first, I really connected with Ti-Jeanne, a single mother with a young baby. I thought she was strong and flawed and thus, quite human. I connected very much to the dialect, being Caribbean-Canadian myself. The setting was also great, as a current Torontonian. I was able to picture the ruins of the places that Ti-Jeanne visited and actually that made it quite scary! Plot-wise, it was quite gritty and intense at some points. (view spoiler)[ particularly Gros-Jeanne's brutal murder. (hide spoiler)] Speaking of which, my main issue with the plot was (view spoiler)[ how Ti-Jeanne forgives Tony in the end. Am I supposed to interpret that as strong and diplomatic? Because I interpreted it as stupid and unrealistic. If my baby's father smashed my grandmother's head in with a hammer, no matter WHAT the motive, I think I might have to kill him myself. I thought it was absurd that Ti-Jeanne forgave him. (hide spoiler)] I thought the writing was quite disjointed and at times difficult to follow. I struggled through some of it, but where this novel fails in prose, it definitely makes up for in its inclusion of cultural ceremonies, language and folklore. I cannot praise this book enough for its references to Caribbean folklore and myth, as well as things like obeah. It was an enlightening experience to read in this sense, particularly for me, a Caribbean-descended woman living in Toronto. Further, we could spend some time interrogating and unpacking what it means for these Caribbean cultural references to have permeated a largely white-, male-dominated genre and industry and how powerful an act of resistance has been created in this work. But I'll save that for an essay. Brilliant.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bogi Takács

    Update: I just realized I did not add the link to the finished review here - you can go to tor.com to read it! https://www.tor.com/2019/04/04/quiltb... * I think this was my third reread of this book, the first one is pre-Goodreads. Review coming soon in my column at Tor.com, this was a "readers vote with many ticky boxes" choice. I feel like every time I get something different out of it. This time I found myself thinking this would be such a shoo-in for New Adult (which readers ask for A LOT) but Update: I just realized I did not add the link to the finished review here - you can go to tor.com to read it! https://www.tor.com/2019/04/04/quiltb... * I think this was my third reread of this book, the first one is pre-Goodreads. Review coming soon in my column at Tor.com, this was a "readers vote with many ticky boxes" choice. I feel like every time I get something different out of it. This time I found myself thinking this would be such a shoo-in for New Adult (which readers ask for A LOT) but doesn't get characterized as New Adult because it is not a "white protagonist goes to college coming of age" plot but rather "Afro-Caribbean migrant protagonist is a young mother coming of age" plot. On this reread I found myself thinking about the parallels with Vita Nostra, of all things. (Which has a "Russian protagonist goes to college coming of age" plot :) also with magic, like here.) _______ Source of the book: I no longer remember? Used bookstore?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson's first novel, is an impressive work of imagination. Her Haitian dominated near future Toronto is alive with sights and sounds and smells. Her world of Caribbean magics slamming into cutting edge medical tech really works, channelling a little bit of the old RPG Shadowrun but replacing information for organs. I would recommend it to anyone who loves Sci-Fi or Fantasy or Sci-Fantasy. But I can't muster much more from my personal response than, "That was okay Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson's first novel, is an impressive work of imagination. Her Haitian dominated near future Toronto is alive with sights and sounds and smells. Her world of Caribbean magics slamming into cutting edge medical tech really works, channelling a little bit of the old RPG Shadowrun but replacing information for organs. I would recommend it to anyone who loves Sci-Fi or Fantasy or Sci-Fantasy. But I can't muster much more from my personal response than, "That was okay." I want to, but I can't. I put down Brown Girl in the Ring feeling vaguely disappointed. I wish I could tell you why.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    I read a terrific list of "The 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time" and have been tracking down all the ones I haven't yet read; I discovered this excellent novel that way. I read a terrific list of "The 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time" and have been tracking down all the ones I haven't yet read; I discovered this excellent novel that way.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Enjoyed the audiobook. Interesting fusion of near future scifi and Caribbean folklore. 4 Stars Listened to the audiobook. Peter J Fernandez was very good.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    This book is by a Canadian- Caribbean writer and it’s creative, fresh and *new* for being eleven years old. So I’ve got another new to me favorite writer. The ring of the title is the suburbs that the wealthy and middle class fled Toronto to and have taken with them the police, government and left it in the hands of an organized drug lord. Rudy calls on Caribbean dark spirits (obeah) to consolidate his power, but his ex-wife Mami Gros- Jeanne, her daughter Mi-Jeanne and granddaughter Ti-Jeanne w This book is by a Canadian- Caribbean writer and it’s creative, fresh and *new* for being eleven years old. So I’ve got another new to me favorite writer. The ring of the title is the suburbs that the wealthy and middle class fled Toronto to and have taken with them the police, government and left it in the hands of an organized drug lord. Rudy calls on Caribbean dark spirits (obeah) to consolidate his power, but his ex-wife Mami Gros- Jeanne, her daughter Mi-Jeanne and granddaughter Ti-Jeanne worship the gods and do good.(And yes that naming is very difficult to figure out, and the pronouns are, too.) “How come I never see you using [tarot cards:] before, Mami?” “I used to hide it from you when I was seeing with them. I really don’t know why, doux-doux. From since slavery days, we people get in the habit of hiding we business from we own children even, in case a child open he mouth and tell somebody story and get them in trouble. Secrecy was survival, oui? Is a hard habit to break. Besides, remember I try to teach about what I does do, and you run away?” “But Mami obeah…” Mami stamped her foot.“Is not obeah!”

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jalilah

    Even though some of the SciFi/Dystopian aspects did not make sense to me, it not prevent me from enjoying the novel.The magical elements and the use of Afro-Caribbean folklore and spiritual beliefs made it a compelling read. This was a reread for me and I enjoyed it every much as I did the first time around. Nalo Hopkinson is a gifted writer and I've loved everything I've read from her! Even though some of the SciFi/Dystopian aspects did not make sense to me, it not prevent me from enjoying the novel.The magical elements and the use of Afro-Caribbean folklore and spiritual beliefs made it a compelling read. This was a reread for me and I enjoyed it every much as I did the first time around. Nalo Hopkinson is a gifted writer and I've loved everything I've read from her!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Oleksandr Zholud

    While this book is shelved as a fantasy here on GR, it is actually more of a horror set in post-apoc. While a lot of US residents cite Canada as an example of how great he USA could be with more liberal policies (esp. now), this book describes Toronto after riots caused by income inequality. The municipal center is now a lawless zone where poor survive, riddled with addicts and the informal power in hands of a sorcerer. Those with money are living in former suburbs and visit former center only as While this book is shelved as a fantasy here on GR, it is actually more of a horror set in post-apoc. While a lot of US residents cite Canada as an example of how great he USA could be with more liberal policies (esp. now), this book describes Toronto after riots caused by income inequality. The municipal center is now a lawless zone where poor survive, riddled with addicts and the informal power in hands of a sorcerer. Those with money are living in former suburbs and visit former center only as entertainment-seeking tourists. In this Toronto lives Ti-Jeanne, a young single mother and her grandmother Mami Gros-Jeanne, who practices obeah (a system of spiritual and healing practices developed among enslaved West Africans in the West Indies, which is less known to a western reader than relatively similar voodoo), supplying medical help where the ‘official’ healthcare system failed. Ti-Jeanne has strange vivid dreams about mythical creatures from Caribbean folklore and is afraid that she is going mad like her missing mother. At that time, local crime boss / sorcerer receives a job to supply human heart to local governor and sets his minor underling, Tony (who is the father for Ti-Jeanne’s baby but does not know it) to get it from the streets. The author uses Caribbean English to convey a lot of dialogues and for non-native speaker like me is sounded a bit off and distracted from the novel. Overall, an interesting read, but not exactly what I like, horrors are not my thing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    I think I was mostly disappointed by this book because I came to it with really high expectations - I'd read some great reviews of it, comparing Hopkinson favorably to Octavia Butler, etc. Well, both writers are black and tend to write about black characters, but there the similarity ends. This is a reasonably entertaining voodoo adventure story... a young Canadian woman of Caribbean descent, Ti-Jeanne, must take care of her baby, ditch the loser drug-addict boyfriend she's in love with, learn to I think I was mostly disappointed by this book because I came to it with really high expectations - I'd read some great reviews of it, comparing Hopkinson favorably to Octavia Butler, etc. Well, both writers are black and tend to write about black characters, but there the similarity ends. This is a reasonably entertaining voodoo adventure story... a young Canadian woman of Caribbean descent, Ti-Jeanne, must take care of her baby, ditch the loser drug-addict boyfriend she's in love with, learn to work with the voodoo spirits, and defeat the gang leader who is running this near-future Toronto - a gang leader who just happens to be involved with evil voodoo - and is her grandfather. That's all fine - and fun - but that's about as far as it goes. This is not great literature - the characters are all fairly one-dimensional, and it gets to be pretty annoying that ALL the women are strong, long-suffering, resourceful and good, and ALL the men are either weak and useless, or outright evil. The main villain is so evil as to be fairly unbelievable. This was Hopkinson's first book, so I won't write her off completely, but I'm not planning on going out of my way to get more of her work.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    I read this and didn’t understand some of what was going on. Have to reread.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    i think i responded to this more on account of what i learned from it than on the merits of its prose... which isn't to say it's not an enjoyable novel. it's just a bit flat in a few areas, story-wise (atmosphere, characterizations). the premise is an interesting one. brown girl in the ring concerns a post-apocalyptic toronto, in which a young mother learns to use her caribbean spiritual roots to bring down a local drug dealer. as sci-fi, it's not terribly concerned with alternate realities. in f i think i responded to this more on account of what i learned from it than on the merits of its prose... which isn't to say it's not an enjoyable novel. it's just a bit flat in a few areas, story-wise (atmosphere, characterizations). the premise is an interesting one. brown girl in the ring concerns a post-apocalyptic toronto, in which a young mother learns to use her caribbean spiritual roots to bring down a local drug dealer. as sci-fi, it's not terribly concerned with alternate realities. in fact, it feels stylistically closer to magic realism, and the "speculative" side of its premise isn't explored in great detail. i wish it left me with a stronger sense of place, to be honest. instead, the scope is mythic, and the characters are somewhat archetypal. there are clear cut heroes and villains throughout, which can feel static and lifeless at times. still, the fable-like structure maintains a certain reverance, and i finished brown girl with the suspicion that a deeper knowledge of caribbean/voodoo/yoruba spiritual practices might have changed the experience dramatically. the book is more concerned with mythology than psychology, perhaps.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Megan Baxter

    I sat down to read Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring because it is on a CBC Books List of 100 Novels That Make You Proud To Be A Canadian. I'm working my way through it, slowly, although it is annoying that it skews so heavily towards the recent. And there are certain other themes that I am less than happy about. Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read I sat down to read Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring because it is on a CBC Books List of 100 Novels That Make You Proud To Be A Canadian. I'm working my way through it, slowly, although it is annoying that it skews so heavily towards the recent. And there are certain other themes that I am less than happy about. Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    I enjoyed the folk religion blended with the use of magic. She drew on a vast culture but never info dumped and kept the pace moving. The worldbuilding and political commentary were subtle and on point. She effectively skewers white privilege and makes her case for a very real and disturbing future. A novel of redemption for some and despair for others. But her skill as a novelist keeps you guessing who the saved and who the damned will be.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tiara

    Been on hiatus because of work and things, but hoping to get more reviews back out. :-) If I owe you an email, I'm getting there. Promise. Anyhow. 3.5 stars. I know this book is classified as science fiction, but honestly, it felt more like urban fantasy to me. At best, it was science-fantasy because it does have some science fiction elements. However, those things aren't nearly as pronounced to me as the fantasy portion of the novel. Downtown Toronto has abandoned by the Canadian government afte Been on hiatus because of work and things, but hoping to get more reviews back out. :-) If I owe you an email, I'm getting there. Promise. Anyhow. 3.5 stars. I know this book is classified as science fiction, but honestly, it felt more like urban fantasy to me. At best, it was science-fantasy because it does have some science fiction elements. However, those things aren't nearly as pronounced to me as the fantasy portion of the novel. Downtown Toronto has abandoned by the Canadian government after a series of financial disasters that lead to an economic depression. They've blocked the people from leaving the hellhole its become, but those who have money move to the suburbs are allowed to keep their illusion of safety while those who don't are forced to stay in Toronto and fend for themselves, which is largely made of a society of people of color. Depending on the ways of their ancestors, despite their ugly surroundings and reality, they've built up this society that focuses on bartering and relying on the old ideas of their people ranging from India to the Caribbean. That could come in the form of food or knowledge of the land or that can come in the form of more fantastic elements. Ti-Jeanne is a new mother who hasn't named her baby. She's recently moved back in with her grandmother, Gros-Jeanne, due to the baby's father being an addict and needing support that she knows her grandmother can provide. Despite that, Ti-Jeanne fears her grandmother's herbalism and spiritualism powers. She also fears that they may be manifesting in her as her dreams begin to plague her, and she is reluctant to give into that side of her family, especially since her grandmother said the visions made her mother mad before she disappeared. However, there are evils in their city that Ti-Jeanne will eventually have to find the courage to face as she learns not to fear who she is. This is one of the books that I choose from the 2014 Speculative Fiction by Authors of Color Challenge because I wanted to read more spec fic by authors of color. This was a beautifully written book that incorporated so much cultural character to the story. Quotes like this just made my whole reading experience: "Tony could give sweet, sweet talk. Words so nice, they would charm the money from your pocket, the caution from your heart, the clothes from your body. Words so sweet and soothing, they sounded like love, like let me hold you the way your mama never held you, like come and be my only special one, my doux-doux darling. Words that promised heaven." So lyrical and full of flavor and culture, exactly what I've been wanting and looking for in my science fiction and fantasy. Words that speak to me. Words that feel genuine. Words that I can hear people I know in my life saying. Hopkinson created a very scarred, scary, abandoned society, but at the same time, she's made it this diverse place full of colorful characters who are just trying to survive. Now, for the main character, Ti-Jeanne. We had a torrid relationship for a moment. While I appreciated and even empathized with Ti-Jeanne's struggles with being a mother, loving a man that's "no good" for her, and trying to assert herself as a woman to her grandmother, it took me a while to connect with her character. I understood her selfishness and her anger at not only her personal situation but the situation of her city. However, that may have been part of the point to all this. Ti-Jeanne needed to learn to respect, compassion, and selflessness. She needed to learn that, while selfishness is part of human nature, one has to temper it with respect for others. It's one of those books where you want to tell the character you are no more special than anyone else in respect to your needs or wants. Your needs do not outweigh the needs of others. Many of your needs and wants are only different from anyone else's. Many first mothers have troubles. Many of us don't have enough to feed ourselves much less others. Of course, your problems, these problems, seem worst than the next person because they're yours. However, the next person feels the same way about their problems. You are special because you are you, and no one else can say that. However, as Ti-Jeanne grew as a character, I grew to love her much more. Her transformation from this almost girl-child pretending to be a woman to a woman who is not afraid of what power she holds, not just as her grandmother's child, but as her tragic mother's child and as a woman of power herself, is beautifully done. Her grandmother reminded me so much of my own great-grandmother who could be a curmudgeonly soul, but this is how she imparted wisdom and love. Parts of the book like that just made me so nostalgic. I have to say I didn't quite know if I'd come out of this one loving it. I appreciated it, but it took me so long to warm to Ti-Jeanne that I was afraid I was going to like it, but it wasn't going to be that story for me. I'm grateful that I was wrong, and I look forward to more of Hopkinson's wonderfully magic books.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sunil

    The first sentence of Brown Girl in the Ring contains the line of dialogue, "We want you to find us a viable human heart, fast." It is a white man coming to a black man for help, and it sets into motion a chain of events that will change the lives of many people in the ruins of Toronto. Brown Girl in the Ring runs a scant 250 pages, but it packs a hell of a lot into those pages. Ti-Jeanne, Our Heroine, has her hands full with a new baby, but her former lover, Tony, gets embroiled in the dealings The first sentence of Brown Girl in the Ring contains the line of dialogue, "We want you to find us a viable human heart, fast." It is a white man coming to a black man for help, and it sets into motion a chain of events that will change the lives of many people in the ruins of Toronto. Brown Girl in the Ring runs a scant 250 pages, but it packs a hell of a lot into those pages. Ti-Jeanne, Our Heroine, has her hands full with a new baby, but her former lover, Tony, gets embroiled in the dealings of a ruthless drug lord (is there any other kind?), who needs a viable human heart, fast. Complicating matters are Ti-Jeanne's incessant, cryptic visions, which threaten to drive her mad as they did her mother. But she must have some connection the old gods, says her grandmother, Gros-Jeanne, or Mami. So it's time to use magic to solve some problems, and we all know that always goes well. I admit to having some trouble following everything because I'm not familiar with Caribbean lore, and Caribbean English grammar treats pronouns and verbs very differently, which makes the dialogue hard to understand until you get the hang of it. But I loved learning more about this culture, its gods, its food, its magic. What I found particularly interesting was how evocative the language was, such that the sections about the rich, white people felt like they belonged in a completely different book, despite that they were part of the same world. It's done so skillfully that it's not jarring, but I loved how the feel changed. While she never directly makes comparisons between the two classes, it's an inherent part of the story, and it's seen not only in the language but in the contrast between magic and science, each described in precise detail. The heart of the story, however, lies in the relationship between Ti-Jeanne and her grandmother, now her magical tutor. It's a story about family, and about three generations of women and their connection to the spiritual world and what it's done to their family. It's a story about a young mother learning what it means to be a mother. It's also a story in which someone is skinned alive, so there's something for everyone. Brown Girl in the Ring starts off with a bang, slows down a bit, and then unleashes a relentless stream of plot twists and fantastical horror that makes it hard to truly classify this book in one genre, as it has elements of several. I may overuse the phrase "it's like nothing I've ever read," but as I continue to expand my horizons and read more diversely, I expect to be saying it a lot more. And that's awesome.

  28. 4 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    Many writers and other literary types have been concerned as of late with the idea of queering science fiction, fantasy, and other kinds of speculative fiction, which have an unfortunate but not entirely undeserved reputation of glorifying certain kinds of white homophobic masculinity. Being a fairly recent convert to these kinds of non-realist writing, I picked up Jamaican-born Torontonian Nalo Hopkinson’s first novel Brown Girl in the Ring (1998) eagerly. It comes recommended by Octavia Butler Many writers and other literary types have been concerned as of late with the idea of queering science fiction, fantasy, and other kinds of speculative fiction, which have an unfortunate but not entirely undeserved reputation of glorifying certain kinds of white homophobic masculinity. Being a fairly recent convert to these kinds of non-realist writing, I picked up Jamaican-born Torontonian Nalo Hopkinson’s first novel Brown Girl in the Ring (1998) eagerly. It comes recommended by Octavia Butler, who is my favourite SF/fantasy writer. I was also excited about this novel because it had been one of the contenders in the Canada Reads 2008 contest... see the rest of my review here: http://caseythecanadianlesbrarian.wor...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jherane Patmore

    This book is awesome! Reading this was so easy and Nalo packs in HUGE themes of ethics, Afro-spirituality, immigration, aging, motherhood, poverty, and exploitation. I learned so much about my own Caribbean culture from reading this book based in Toronto, how sway? I would recommend this book for anyone with an interest in seeing a dystopian world where the spirits and gang lords contend and Afro-Caribbean single mothers are the victors. P.S.: I hated all the human men in the book :)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mareike

    This was a solid, quick, 3-star read. Hopkinson knows how to create and sustain tension and draw interesting characters. Still, I was never completely drawn in and missed a deeper emotional impact.

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