Let us start with the standard disclaimer for circumstances like these. I know S.L. Dove Cooper, and will probably speak to her today. She’s a good egg, she’s critiqued lots of my works, she’s a friend. I picked up this particular book based on which of her books she thought would work for me. The review is, of course, my honest opinion without conscious fear or favour; the honesty includes the possibility it is there subconsciously. I’ll let you decide on that.
Well. Without conscious fear I say. There’s always the slight worry when picking up a friend’s book that you’ll have to go “errrrr…”. So maybe make that ‘not much conscious fear’. Fortunately, that did not come up.
The Shimmering Prayer of Sûkiurâq is the tale of Oibe Ekêmai, who we first see fretting over thaes test to become one of the lêqnaemi, dancers who weave magic with their steps. There is no other life plan; the only other thing Oibe knows how to do is outwitting “cattle six times out of twelve”. Fortunately, thae succeed.
A lot of what The Shimmering Prayer of Sûkiurâq is about is in the above paragraph. It is for the most part a small scale fantasy, one of everyday magics and hopes and dreams, all interwoven into people’s thoughts and society’s fabric. It is an inclusive fantasy, one centered around non-binary and queer characters’ adventures. The prose is littered with tiny little bits of poetry and humour from Oibe’s perspective and it the feeling of character and place created by them that really drew me into this story.
Dove Cooper also has a knack for establishing interesting characters quickly, with Oibe’s fellow new lêqnaemi the other stars in what feels like a big, interesting cast for a fairly small book (65 pages in print). She plays off stereotype – Immie instantly reminds me of a thousand other bubbly, happy girls – but she gives them their own voice. They feel fresh in her hands.
Between the writing and the characters I bounced through the pages, with my only real complaint being a desire for a bigger story. The plot itself is fairly simple, most of it being spent in the characters interacting before a catastrophe at the end causes a big action finale. The world hinted at, one of unusual magics and floating cities, is a world I’d be happy to see more of.
Taken for what it is though, The Shimmering Prayer of Sûkiurâq is a delight, a warm and friendly slice of life tale that ends with a tense slice of maybe being sliced. It’s just very readable and as such, I’d recommend it to just about anyone.