Disclaimer: I have voluntarily reviewed this book after receiving a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley; thank you!
The Four Profound Weaves is a story about two older trans people and their journey through the desert to find a woman banished from the tribe they were traveling with. It touches upon some very needed topics and it does so masterfully but it also for some reason didn’t click with me.
Reading The Four Profound Weaves feels like reading a fairytale. You’re submerged in a mystical world with a rich atmosphere and magic but you never actually learn much about it. It makes you feel the story more than understand it. Not that I didn’t. There is plenty of contexts provided to understand how Weaves work. Plenty to understand why the characters are in the situations they are in. But there’s not so much for anything else. That to be said, I still enjoyed the heavy, desert atmosphere and the beautiful writing style.
Another thing the books does well is talking about trans experiences. An own voices reviewer will have more to say about it and it will be on point but I did like how the book presented perspectives of both people who transitioned early in their life as well as people who transitioned late into adulthood. People who had to live in a conservative environment with strict gender roles, as well as people between whom transitioning, wasn’t seen as a big deal. It was very interesting to read and since both of the characters are in their sixties the reader gets to see how their whole lives were affected by their situation. It wasn’t something I usually see discussed in books.
Sadly I couldn’t connect to the characters. They felt more like means to tell the story than actual people who you could like. They were good devices to show what the writer wanted the audience to understand but other than that I found them rather unmemorable. I feel that was mostly why the story fell flat to me. It was short and didn’t give time to flash out the characters fully. I still found their story very meaningful and beautifully written, though.
All in all, I feel like this book wasn’t something up my alley. It’s often a fault I find in adult fantasy when the plot and atmosphere are more prominent than character development and relationships between them. I’d still recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a queer fantasy story with a rich atmosphere and meaningful discussion.
Graphic: Transphobia and Deadnaming