Amber "Hawkeye" Rodriguez is a young research librarian who is asked to travel to the mysterious Southern lands on the human-colonized planet of Jigsaw with a group of the equally mysterious Neighbors, the original inhabitants of the planet. Their goal is to talk to the Spirits of Glory, and they ask Hawkeye along for her sharp eyes that see farther than anyone else. The curious Hawkeye has studied the Neighbors her entire life. She goes along because she wants to learn more about all three things: the Southern lands, the Spirits of Glory, and the Neighbors. Not to mention why the Southerners suddenly disappeared in the first place.
Spirits of Glory starts out with a huge question mark. Initially, I had no clue what was going on. The writing brought to mind the fantasist Catherynne M. Valente in which information is given that doesn't make sense until you keep reading. A lot of interesting ideas are presented to the reader and it takes further reading to see where Devenport is going. As the pieces came together, I gained a coherent idea of the story. I liked it before that point, and with its completion, the further insight I gained made me appreciate the story more, although there is plenty of mystery when this novella ends to leave me pondering the world of Jigsaw and its original inhabitants.
Hawkeye is a character that is very easy to feel for, with her humble but inquisitive nature, and good heart. I loved her assistance animals, Wolfy, a Retriever who has almost figured out how to speak English, and Brat, a cat with the ears and nose of a seasoned tracker. The bond between the two assistance animals and Hawkeye and the Neighbors, and Daisy, one of the mules that goes along on the journey made me smile. Animal lovers will appreciate these aspects of the novella.
Devenport imbues this short novel with plenty of tension as Hawkeye journeys into new places and faces dangers from those environs and their decidedly untrustworthy companions, humans who are called Scavengers. They show humans up poorly next to the considerate, composed miens of the Neighbors.
For a short story, I become very emotionally entangled as I read. It was interesting discovering the mysteries of Jigsaw, where time and space are not fixed, but highly mercurial. Although this is set on another planet, and concepts of science are prominent, there is a palpable vibe of the supernatural and otherworldly, with ghosts and arcane beings that the humans and Neighbors refer to as gods.
Since Hawkeye is only sixteen, this story works fairly well as a young adult themed work. However, Hawkeye has a sheltered aspect to her personality, and at the same time, has suffered a great deal for her age, making her a mature, balanced main character. She serves as a good role model to young female readers, which is why I would recommend this as a young adult novella. The content is suitable as far as violence and adult situations. However, there is a maturity to the thematic content that encourages any reader of any age to read and ponder the questions of humanity, existence, time, and the legacy that human and other beings leave behind, both good and bad. When I finished this novella, I was a satisfied reader. I would recommend Spirits of Glory to readers who like stories with a nice mix of science and fantasy/paranormal elements.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
*Reviewed by guest reviewer, Danielle Hill.
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