Brown Girl in the Ring

Brown Girl in the Ring - Nalo Hopkinson oronto has become a ruin, a dystopian city of extreme poverty. After the riots it was largely abandoned by the government - wealthy Torontonians fled to the outer ring, leaving the inner city core to descend into poverty and lawlessness Ti-Jeane lives in Toronto with her baby and her grandmother, who makes a living from her herb-lore and healing. Trying to get by in the torn city, her life is complicated as the father of her child gets in over his head with the criminal boss, who all but rules downtown Toronto. Unsurprisingly not only is he addicted to drugs, he sells them for a living - that is when he can stop skimming off the top. Ti-Jean comes face to face with illegal organ harvesters (note we aren’t even certain why the organs are an issue), her grandmother’s magical legacy, menacing dark magic, a neurological atypical mother, and through it all she must somehow save herself and protect the family she has left.This was very different from a lot of Urban Fantasy in that we focused on Caribbean mythologies, cultures and belief systems, which meant a departure from the standard witches, vampires, and werewolves, of European mythology. This imbued Dark Girl in the Ring with a world that was fairly unique, compared to many books in the genre.And in an extremely erased genre it is unusual and refreshing to see a cast that is nearly entirely made up of POC. It’s all to rare and nice to see. Though it is worth nothing that since the author is herself a Black woman inclusion in this case was expected and therefore did not amount to the surprise and wonder when characters of color appear in a book written by a White person.Character wise, I wasn’t engaged by Ti-Jeane. I found her to be a very passive person, generally following around events rather than driving them. I wasn’t particularly engaged with any of the family and, frankly, didn’t especially care if any of them lived or died. Which is a shame, because I feel they had the potential to be decent characters - but they never really got the chance. Ti-Jeane’s boyfriend is grossly unlikeable, her grandmother we don’t see enough of to develop a character beyond grumpy - there’s not a lot to engage with here.Read more