So J.Y. Yang’s The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune are billed as “twin novellas” that can be read in any order, but they both are about the same main characters, and one of them happens chronologically 100% after the other one. So while I guess you could read the later book first, and then treat the other as a prequel, it makes waaaaay more sense to just say that Black Tides is book one, and Red Threads book two.

So these are apparently considered “silkpunk,” and I’m not sure I actually understand what the “punk” suffix means anymore, but they’re set in a fantasy Asian empire with magic-based tech, and the protagonists are a set of twins who seem to have been picked out by fate. There’s family drama, politics, romance (the characters involved have a reasonable variety of genders and sexualities), and straight-up action.

These are fast-reading, and not just because they’re short—I talk a lot about how much I like books that have that propulsive sense of momentum, and these have that in spades. (I had actually picked them out to read on an airplane, started the first one to see if they were really the appropriate tone for airplane reading, and then ended up plowing through them well before the trip. Oops.) But like the best such books, they’ve also got some depth to them: The characters feel real, the politics meaningful, the world seems to exist beyond the horizons of what the characters see.

Really fun books, strongly recommended to any fantasy fan, and I’m excited to see more of them.

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