STAR RATING: 3 stars
PAGE LENGTH: 160 pages
CW: Drug use, blood
IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Honestly, I am baffled to come up with anything similar to this — maybe any of T. Kingfisher’s books set in the World of the White Rat?
Thank you to Netgalley and Tordotcom for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Kelly Robson is back with fairies, scribes, and many many kisses in High Times in the Low Parliament.
Lana Baker is Aldgate’s finest scribe, with a sharp pen and an even sharper wit. Gregarious, charming, and ever so eager to please, she agrees to deliver a message for another lovely scribe in exchange for kisses and ends up getting sent to Low Parliament by a temperamental fairy as a result.
As Lana transcribes the endless circular arguments of Parliament, the debates grow tenser and more desperate. Due to long-standing tradition, a hung vote will cause Parliament to flood and a return to endless war. Lana must rely on an unlikely pair of comrades—Bugbite, the curmudgeonly fairy, and Eloquentia, the bewitching human deputy—to save humanity (and maybe even woo one or two lucky ladies), come hell or high water.
High Times in the Low Parliament is an incredibly quick read. It’s not even 200 pages, so you’ll plow through this one if you’re anything like me. So…did I like it? Yes, and no. It’s kind of middling, for me. High Times in the Low Parliament is not a book that takes itself seriously. The main character, Lara, peddles and does drugs for most of the story, describing the hallucinogenic effects while dealing with what’s going on plotwise. She’s also frequently flirting with whoever is nearest to her. — Lara does nothing seriously the entire book. There’s some rather funny moments, however — I caught myself laughing out loud a few times while I read.
But despite laughing, I think my struggle with this book is that I don’t really understand what the point was. It’s not really a feel-good story, it’s not a love story, it’s not a real “fantasy” — by which I mean there’s no quest, no big baddie. And no, stories don’t need a point to be worth telling, but at the end of this one I was just left a little aimless.
The world building done by Robson in High Times in the Low Parliament is fascinating. There are no men in the entire world presented in this novella. Children are conceived when a woman asks for blessing from the natal fairy. Women do literally everything else. I thought this was a unique aspect of world-building, but I’m not sure why this choice was made. Did men ever exist? I did wonder while I read, but answers are not forth coming in the text.
I think High Times in the Low Parliament was not really for me. I just didn’t get it.
HIGH TIMES IN THE LOW PARLIMANT comes out AUGUST 9, 2022.
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