Reasons for Inclusion: Queer WoC lead, multiple countries and cultures, F/F relationship
All Andín dal Rovi wants is to study at the University in the capital. She finally gets to the city- but as a demon-possessed outcast. And then she is exiled from her country, her home, everything she’s ever known. The only thing she can do is keep moving, hoping somebody can take the demon out of her mind.
The complexity of her world is evident very early on. The first thing Andín sees in the city is a famous women’s rights speaker arrested by Imperial police. The characters see race, class, and gender issues in different forms in different places.
Social unrest is not the only issue her world is facing. Patches of void are appearing at random, indiscriminately swallowing parts of the world, and nobody knows why or how.
The book does a very good job of illustrating the effects of empire, immigration, social upheaval, and (super)natural disasters on a world of many countries and peoples. The countries are both distinct in culture and blended by centuries of empire and immigration. Politics is not the main focus of the story, but it is of crucial importance to the world. Like the rest of the worldbuilding, it fits naturally into the world both as background detail and a relevant driving force for characters.
I especially liked the character development. Andín starts her tale young and hopeful, surrounded by family but limited by society, and through her travel and association with the demon, becomes powerful and experienced, but very often alone.
The loneliness of travel makes Andín’s interactions with the women she meets along her journey all the more important.
Though friends are few and far between, they are indispensable. Andín meets Yshe, a diplomat’s wife who accepts Andín in all her strangeness; Lynde, tasked with returning the magic sword of legendary hero Judy Shashalnikya; and Vi, a sorceress who might be able to help her find an answer.
And then there’s the demon- the arrogant, cruel spirit who has possessed every Emperor for millennia. At first, Andín and the demon want nothing more than to be separated, but as time goes on, they learn from each other, become accustomed to one another, and learn the other is more complicated than they expected.
I recommend The Demon Girl’s Song for the richness of characters, worldbuilding, and the growth of both.
(I received an ARC)