Morning Song was my fat fiction pick for September, and it turned out to be a fun yet frustrating read. The novel is set in a fantasy/medieval sort of setting. Morna is a mystic in a small town with a crazy law: rape is legal if no man claims a woman or girl. *Thus, there is a lot of rape in this book. That’s a heads up for all readers.* Although she was gang raped at 13, Morna stays in this violent town to help heal women and girls who are also sexually assaulted. She heals others, too, which is why her friends drop a strange man named Arrick off at her door. He was accidentally shot with three arrows when Morna’s friend mistook this large man for a deer. They slowly fall in love, and when Arrick is evasive about why he has to hurry up and return to his own town, I easily guessed why he was hiding his identity.
Morning Song is a roller coaster of quality. The beginning was predictable and a little cheesy, but about 40% through I was hooked. I was reading more often and getting involved emotionally, especially since by all clues the book should have been done, but there was 60% to go. What else could possibly happen!? That was exciting. However, the editing is terrible— so terrible that I thought this was a self-published book released by an impatient, inexperienced author. The word “comma” replaced actual commas in some places. Commas never appeared to set off names or separate clauses. For example, “Morna ignored them going into healer mode.” This implies Morna ignored other people as they went into healer mode, but Morna is the one who went into healer mode as she ignored other people.
Actually, Susan Simone is published through J. Ellington Ashton Press, which has some really cool-sounding titles, like Crackhouse in the Desert, The ABC’s of Zombie Friendship, Slothantula, (a sloth/tarantula monster?), and Wendy Won’t Go (WTF, Wendy? Now I’m curious!). All very monster/Halloween, which is why I’m curious how they acquired Morning Song, which is more fantasy romance/sexy times. The press has potential, but needs a robust editor. There are several editors listed on the press’s site — who aren’t living up to their titles.
The world building in Morning Song was wonky, though had me interested. The story is set in the future. The machines are gone, so it all feels like a traditional fantasy of yore. Morna sings contemporary songs (which are inserted oddly) and give readers an idea of when recorded music was still a thing. But Simone is so invested in this knights/royalty setting that she forgets readers should be in the future, making me wonder why she chose a post-apocalyptic setting at all (other than to share some Adele and Soundgarden songs).
Despite the lacking setting and editorial errors, I did find myself engaged with Morna, Arrick, and several minor characters, including a dog. I wanted to reach the end of the book to make sure they got their happily ever after, especially with so much violence in their lives. Characters are shot with arrows, cut with knives, whacked with staffs, stitched up after births, burned — there’s so much excitement! They’re both strong partners, and Morna happens to be fat. Hooray! Morna is rarely (if ever, come to think of it. . .) saved by Arrick. And sex! Boy-howdy, the sex was fun and will likely make you squiggly.
I had a few concerns, such as how Morna was always described as being so light and graceful on her feet. Just let her be fat for reals, you know? Arrick also mentions how he didn’t realize he was into large women and should have ignored all those skinny ninny’s from his past. No need to insult other women for their bodies, dude. If Morna were skinny, would he have ignored her? Unlikely, so why say such things?
Basically, this is an uppie-downie book that I really liked reading.