(KINDLE) õ Brown Girl in the Ring ⚣ eBook or E-pub free

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. 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 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 by this author and yes I would She does interesting things with myth, reworking in a feminist way. I can t keep giving my will into other people s hands no , 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 GoodreadsThe 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 ThoughtI 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 CemeteryBeside 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 WordIn 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 spiritualityAnybody 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 waysYou 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 nuanced, I think Overall, though, I m extremely impressed that this was Hopkinson s first novel and I m looking forward to reading of her books.About the Author from her websiteI 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 Brown Girl in the Ring is a very eerie story, but definitely a good one Although I m not entirely sure it s fair to paint rich people as inherently heartless and selfish, the book does make some good points about inequality in a dystopic society Much like the 1970 s film Soylent Green it shows the horrors that arise when you stop caring about other human beings, or when a situation becomes so bad that one group exploits another to survive.Something unique to this story however is the magical element The main character uses traditional methods of magic, lore and powers to try and prevent the worst from happening Also unique is the Toronto setting, although to be totally honest, this plot was just too far fetched even for fantasy The notion that our government here would drop arguably its largest city due to a bad economy is unbelievable at best, although having lived in Halifax where the Africville issue happened, the racial discrimination plot was plausible and all the chilling For all Canada pushes diversity, we ve had our fair share of little incidents in recent history, including but sadly not limited to residential school abuse, Africville turned into a garbage dump and taken from the people who lived there, the taking of First Nations land for industrial usage which took decades to remediate and the attempt to Anglicafy Canada s Indigenous children Brown Girl in the Ring shows in a most extreme and brutal form the horrors of treating other people as disposable, but it s as much a family drama as it is a dystopia, giving it another tier of complexity Daring and interesting, it s not always entirely believable but it s a well written story. 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. 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 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 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. 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 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. 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 and 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 , 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 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. (KINDLE) ⚣ Brown Girl in the Ring ò 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 GrandmotherShe Must Bargain With Gods, And Give Birth To New Legends 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