Review: Olivia Sitter – Brightest Gold

Author: Olivia Sitter
Reviewer: Ashley
Publisher: JMS Books
Genre: Fantasy

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Summary:

Ever since their youth, Jorrah has hunted down shining tokens of affection. A ring, a flower, a lock of hair—so long as the trinket glows with the light of love, Jorrah will go to any length to add it to their collection. Their obsession leads them in pursuit of lovers, stopping short once gifted a bright object for their hoard.

A wicked and alluring person stalks Jorrah wherever they go, showing up whenever they begin to settle into a new abode. Uprooting themself repeatedly to avoid the dark presence, Jorrah travels in constant search of a place to call their own.

When they find a home, the past rears from the shadows yet again, refusing to be left behind. Jorrah realizes they must choose whether to continue running forever… or confront the darkness to protect what’s most precious to them.

A fantasy for asexual, genderqueer, and dragon loving people.

Review:

This was a wonderfully original fantasy story! Jorrah is a dragon whose treasure is love tokens, and they guard their treasure as jealously as any classic dragon does. However, Jorrah goes out of their way to be kind to others and while it’s often a ruse to get more treasure, the habit of kindness comes through in Jorrah’s gentle nature. This book is an exploration of this fascinating beings story, from how they discovered their obsession, to perfecting the means of gaining their treasure, and then eventually to finding what is even more fulfilling for them then love tokens alone.

I adored Jorrah. They were a good person who often helped others selflessly, though they weren’t always kind especially to those they were seeking love tokens from. When they weren’t kind it was generally easy to see why, as the book took the time to remind us that Jorrah wasn’t human and had different priorities. This didn’t stop me from feeling bad for all the people who fell in love with Jorrah, and I felt particularly bad for their first love. However, since this is something Jorrah themself brings up and feels guilty over it was easier to swallow. And Jorrah’s habits seemed downright innocuous considering this world was dark and contained a great deal of murder and foul practices. Personally, I love a good mix of darkness and light and I think the dark world only further highlighted what a good person Jorrah was at heart.

I also loved that this book explored uncommon themes. I thought this was a good study of how we view gender and sexuality, as well as the assumptions people make in equating romantic interest with sexual interest. Often when I read about asexual characters the matter of their asexuality is addressed in a heavy handed way were it feels awkward. Here, Jorrah came to know about their asexuality in an organic and believable way and it was only brought up when it was a pertinent fact. Similarly, the fact that they were genderqueer was wonderfully handled.

Really I only had two small gripes with this book. One was stated above, I felt so bad for the people that fell in love with Jorrah. This means that they were well written, so that’s good, but even making exceptions for Jorrah’s nature it still bothered me. My bigger problem with this book is difficult to define without spoilers. Let’s just say, there was a major character revealed at the end of this book who was very sexist towards men and who was not given adequate time to really be redeemed to me. This also was part of why the Happy For Now ending disappointed me. I couldn’t see how the characters would settle into a Happily Ever After from there and I wanted just a little more time with them. Maybe I’m greedy, but I wanted more!

Even with these few problems, I really did adore this quick read. If you are looking for something interesting and different, I highly recommend this book.

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