Received to review via Netgalley
The Bruising of Qilwa tries to tackle a lot. It’s a medical fantasy, with a mystery element, and it also delves a little bit into the question of what it means to be oppressed when you have also in your turn been the oppressor (or at least, your people have). The author is Persian-American, so obviously they have a lot of thoughts about this, though the story of Firuz and their work as a healer is at the forefront.
There were a few surprises here in how the story went versus what I’d expected, but mostly it’s surprisingly quiet for a book with some pretty dire consequences at stake. The climax of the story does become rather more energetic, but a lot of the story is just… trying to get on with life as a refugee. Firuz is trying to build a home for their elderly mother and their trans brother (who needs gender-affirming treatment only Firuz’s secret blood magic can provide), and for a foundling from the streets, and trying to help others as well, using their skills at one of the few clinics that provides care for the refugees.
Oh, and there’s a plague. Two separate ones.
It feels like a very slim number of pages to hold so much going on; I think it punches above its weight in that line. I found it a bit uncomfortable to read because certain elements of the second plague hit my anxiety just so, but it’s a really interesting setup.