Hugh:"What are you doing?"Noella: "Whatever I want."
Monday, November 29, 2010
Novelette by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Podcast by Starship Sofa, read by Christie Yant
When this novelette opened like Sex and the City narrated by some sort of awkward alien woman, I was a little nervous. Noella is an alien or a sort of magical being who has given up much of her innate power to take human form and marry a human man. One day, she finds out he is cheating on her with a girl at the office: J.C.. Finding her marriage vows broken, which were literally powerful, she is able to reclaim her lost abilities.
Noella meets up with J.C. to discuss the situation with Hugh, and eventually comes to forgive her. Together, they are both pretty angry with him though. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" is a more terrifying quote when she borders on all-powerful.
The ending wraps up with Noella still not knowing what she wants to do yet, but I think she's partly forgiven Hugh, and wants to be friends with J.C.. The ending seems darkly happy; I wouldn't want to be Hugh in that situation, but I like to think everyone was happy in the long run.
So despite my initial misgivings, I liked this story a lot. The "knotwork" is a very interesting magical system, but the real highlight is the characters. All three main characters are exceptionally well developed and at least somewhat sympathetic. We get to know about Hugh's mommy-issues, J.C.'s loneliness and low self-esteem, and Noella's lack of understanding of some social signals and emotions. She has an odd touch of the anti-hero about her which I think makes for an interesting protagonist in a story about cheating spouses. J.C., the woman he cheated with, actually comes across as the most sympathetic though, and at the end, it's her future I'm most interested in.
Yant is a good reader for capturing the emotions here, and I suspect she improves the excitement and nuance of the story just with her voice. It does lead me to seeing connections with It Takes Two that aren't really there, but both were good stories.
I like this one quite a bit, 4 knots out of 5.