Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Runed by Kendall Grey (urban-fantasy gender-swap)

Runed by Kendall Grey is fantastically funny and fabulously fantastic. I was smirking by the end of the first page, smiling by the end of the first chapter, and giggling aloud often enough that people in the airport were giving me strange looks. What a delightful read!

There are three things going on with this book that you need to be aware of. First, there is a meta-textual bit of mythological appropriation, which is wonderfully done. Grey has a lot of fun with Norse mythology, updating it for the twenty-first century, and inviting us to view both past and present through Loki's eyes - which is twice as much fun as you might expect, owing to a Game of Thrones/Vikings style TV drama about Odin and family that leaves Loki rather unsettled.

Second is the fish-out-of-water theme that, despite having been exhaustively explored is comedies both literary and cinematic, works wonderfully here because of Grey's deft touch. Loki is lost in a new body . . . a new world . . . and a new time. Everything - language, transportation, communication, entertainment, culture - is either foreign or alien. All the misunderstandings you might expect are exploited, but it is those that you do not see coming that are the most fun. Forget cellphones and airplanes, if you really want to overwhelm an ancient Norse deity, drop a vibrator in their lap. I laughed out loud!

Last is the very element that hooked me from the start - the gender-swap, which goes far beyond trickster shapeshifting, leaving Loki a "full-blown, V-card sporting lady" with "two no-need-to-stock-up-on-sheep’s-milk-I’ve-got-you-and-the-rest-of-the-village-covered breasts" and "a great arse." The initial gender discovery is a lot of fun, and the little details along the way keep that aspect from getting tired or stale. Even when the story is being laugh-out-loud humorous, though, Grey still manages to sneak in some wonderful observations about how women - both transgender and cisgender - are treated. There is a simple bathroom scene that surprised me with how tasteful and triumphant it played out.

Short enough to be read in one sitting, and entertaining enough to make the time fly by, Runed was so much more than I had hoped it might be!

A whale warrior, indie freedom fighter, and vodka martini aficionado, Kendall Grey is calm like an F-bomb*. She writes about fierce women and the men who love them. Her aliases include Kendall Day (FALLING FOR MR. SLATER) and Seven Slade (COMING OUT). Kendall lives off a dirt road near Atlanta, Georgia, with three mischievous Demonlings, a dashing geek in cyber armor, a long-haired miniature Dachshund that thinks she's a cat, and an Aussie shepherd mix whose ice-blue eyes will steal your heart and hold it for ransom. 


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