Apple-Obsessed Author Fella

I Am Now officially Ride Or Die For Premee Mohamed

I recently finished this book — the one pictured above, hovering slightly over a single Hellraiser Lament Configuration pillow. It is The Butcher of the Forest, by Premee Mohamed. It is easily one of my most favorite things I’ve read this year. And of last year. And of the years prior. It is excellent. Then I also recall that another of her novellas, The Annual Migration of Clouds, is also excellent, and one of my favorite things. (And it has a followup coming??) And I also read her novel, Beneath the Rising, which was also really fucking good, and I think it is at this point I must declare my allegiance to Premee Mohamed. I am ride or die for her.

I note this because I also want you to be ride or die for her, not simply because I want her to be able to write more books that I selfishly get to read, but also because, hey, I like you. You deserve good things. And her books are good things, ipso facto, you deserve her books. Am I using ipso facto right? I have no idea. And I’m not going to check.

Now, understand, I have not read everything she’s written. I failed to finish her series through no fault of hers but rather because I am a slow reader and have a lot of books to read, and reading a series just sucker-punches the time right out of me. She has a new novel out, Siege of Burning Grass, that I have not read but unsurprisingly everyone says it is truly great, and then there’s And What Can We Offer You Tonight, which also sounds amazing, and — I mean, what I’m saying is, I still have more to read, and I have ordered these books posthaste. Because I deserve good things, too.

And you may want me to convince you further, and I know I’m going to have to use my words to do so, and yet, I’m having a hard time doing that without it just being just a bunch of bleats of delight accompanied by various frantic gesticulations — still, hey, lemme try.

It is rare to find an author who operates in a near-perfect balance. Storytelling and writing requires a lot of balancing, and very few of us get it all right. And that’s okay! Stories do not require perfect balance and can in fact be purposefully out of balance in a way that is really successful. Still, just the same, when you find it, when you find a story that just feels like it’s really operating at that level, it’s a thing of wonder. And here she’s done it more than once, somehow, like a weird miracle.

What does balanced mean? Well, for one, she knows how to tell small, personal, intimate stories amid big, complex worlds and ideas without losing the impact of either. The prose, too, runs an exquisite thread of poetry through the needle eye of clarity — poetic writing can kind of drift into estoterica, and clarity can sometimes hit like a brick, but again, rare is the writer that does both at the exact same time, and I find that’s what she’s doing. Her work is also a little bit funny, a lot sad, considerably tragic, yet also, somehow hopeful at the same time, and reads both like a warm hug and a cold kick to the face. There’s tension and adventure and she knows how to worldbuild like a champion, gently folding it all into the text like the most delicate of egg-whites — none of the airyness or detail lost, no rough club-like beats here. Nothing is overmixed and overexplained. Nothing is underbaked and underexplained. This is Goldilocks-level storytelling. Everything feels just right.

Like, right now, if I had to tell you my top five novellas, Butcher of the Forest and Annual Migration of Clouds would be in that list. (Other recent novellas from other authors that might go in that list: Bloom by Delilah Dawson, When Among Crows by Veronica Roth, and jeez, just spin the wheel and pick any one of Eric LaRocca’s. Wait, is P. Djeli Clark’s Ring Shout a novella, too? Shit this list is getting hard. Whatever, there are no rules, that’s also an amazing one, so go get it. God, novellas are really having a moment, aren’t they? Also just got ML Rio’s Graveyard Shift on deck and am excited as hell for that. I will shut up now.) Point is, I just think you need to go out and get these books and trust me when I say, they are excellent in a way that stories rarely are, and somehow she just keeps getting better, which honestly isn’t even fair. I mean, what are the rest of us supposed to do? Also get better?

(Ugh, fine, we’ll try.)

I tell you all this because it’s sometimes important to share THE BOOK LOVE and I’m quite certain I don’t do it often enough. So I’m doing it now. Go to your bookstore, or online book merchant, or library, and seek all the work of Premee Mohamed immediately ASAFP please and thank you.


Links to purchase (from bookshop dot org)

Butcher of the Forest

Annual Migration of Clouds

Siege of Burning Grass

Beneath the Rising

All her other books because jfc just buy all of ’em