I was supposed to review this for Strange Horizons. I have sent them an email saying that is not possible, because I have been trying to talk about it sensibly for months and failing. It is time to own up to the truth: I will probably never be able to talk about it sensibly.
Here is my not very sensible response to this particular book.
Resurrections is the third volume of a planned four in Roz Kaveney’s difficult-to-classify “Rhapsody of Blood,” following on from Rituals (2012) and Reflections (2013). Like its predecessors, Resurrections follows two main characters whose narrative strands never directly touch: unlike its predecessors, here they aren’t given approximately equal weight. For the greater proportion of the book, this is firmly Mara’s story, not Emma’s.
Yet the strands finally touch in the conclusion, and reveal that these two characters are connected more intimately and more strangely than the reader has previously surmised.
Mara is known as the Huntress. She is not a goddess, although that is by choice and not for any lack of power on her part: she has spent most of her very long existence (since the Mesopotamian Bronze Age) hunting down gods and wannabe gods and killing them, because most gods are very unpleasant people who achieved power through violence and blood. Resurrections is the story of her and how she met Judas and his brother Josh, and their deaths; and the later death of her sister and lover Hypatia. Resurrections is also the story of how Emma and her mysterious employer Josette storm hell, and how Emma becomes a goddess. And other complicated things.
I first read this book five months ago. Ever since, I have been trying – and failing – to write a review that discusses it in ways that make sense without the context of its predecessors. To articulate why it appeals to me despite its peculiar flaws; to outline its epic scale and playful – frequently surreal – weirdness, is a task that continues to elude me. I know of nothing comparable to what Kaveney is doing with her Rhapsody of Blood, and so I can’t even approach it sidelong, sidling up on it by talking about other things.
And yet. Kaveney’s whole project here is queering history and mythology. In both senses: making it more strange and portraying it as filled with people of a variety of genders and sexual orientations.
It does things. With stuff. Things explode in interesting configurations. I don’t know how to talk about it. It gives me complicated feelings, mostly happy ones, some disappointed ones. I don’t know. Kaveney should write more books?