Book Review: Spit & Song by Travis Riddle
I read this a while back and am just now writing a review because it’s Self-Published Fantasy Month and that inspired me to be less of a terrible person who reads constantly and barely tells people about the amazing stuff I like. Slightly less, we’ll see how long this lasts.
Anyway, this is a great book and is in this year’s SPFBO so demands more talking about. It’s one I picked up with a similar vibe to that starting out with my first SPFM-not-SPFM review, Big Red – I’d been reading a lot of heavy stuff and wanted something breezy. I was well aware Riddle took a slice-of-life, slow burning peaceful approach with what I knew of Balam, Spring (which I’ve had for years but am yet to read but want to and leave me alone about that), and I also knew this guy could write having enjoyed The Narrows. So, fresh out of mountains of grimdark books that each took two decades to plough through with burning hot tears and rage, this was the perfect antidote.
Honestly, the idea of having some pleasant characters just potter about doing pleasant things without much goal was exactly what I wanted. (My idea of this book, which I had no real reason to believe would be true.)
And what did I find? Well, this book did beautifully balance all that dark and dreary epic drudgery, but it was actually a lot more than I expected. There’s adventure, excitement and peril here, beyond the heartfelt pleasantness, with two excellent protagonists who play well off each other, and there’s a ton of originality heaped into a small space. Riddle is a writer after my own heart in that he doesn’t lean on typical fantasy tropes of creature or setting – there are some really inventive and unusual things in here. One of the protagonists included. The world-building is superbly conceived with a clear vision of something different.
The story moves at a pleasant pace and reaches a dramatic conclusion, quite different to my expected peaceful meander (again, my own assumption to make), but it’s still light and just thoroughly pleasant to experience throughout.
I feel like pleasant sounds kind of like, “Yeah. It’s fine.”, but it’s the word I feel most suitably fit my experience of this book, and in the most positive, charming way. Though yes, there are some moments where it gets pretty gruesome and monstrous, and it is an adventure, but it’s definitely my kind of pleasant, okay?
Check out Spit and Song here (by which I mean, go to Check Out, and Buy).