The Turn (The Hollows series prequel)
by Kim Harrison

action, world building, a strong female lead? yes, please!

I loved it.

I was completely engrossed by this novel, resulting in a few very late nights and tired mornings at work.

I was hesitant at first to read it, as it is the prequel to a series I have never read. (Well, I read the first one and was disinterested in continuing.) However, my lack of background knowledge wasn't a problem -- if anything, it made the plot more mysterious, since I had no idea what could happen, who would survive, etc. Don't let being a stranger to Kim Harrison's work stop you from trying this one out. I may even try the Hollows series again.

The Turn inhabits a world very similar to our own 1960s, with two notable exceptions: supernatural creatures live silently among humans, passing as one of them; and instead of pouring tons of money and research into traveling to the moon, scientists have been working on genetics and disease eradication. Despite the fast progress of science, gender norms remain rooted in the past, and Trisk, our protagonist and a brilliant geneticist, is often sidelined for being a woman. When her work becomes too successful to ignore, forces conspire to ruin her, causing a disaster that spirals out of control.

The author does a fascinating job of exploring gender power struggles and bureaucratic hoop-jumping using the context of a fantasy setting, and the mechanics of the supernatural creatures' power struggles doesn't require much suspension of belief at all. While most of the characters are not human, they behave in a very real and human way, grounding the fantasy and making it more believable and relatable.

arc received from the publisher for review