Screaming Down Splitsville, by Kayla Bashe
Publisher: Torquere Press
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Mute from birth, Emma-Rose grew up half-wild in the Southern backwoods- until strangers discovered her magical powers and imprisoned her in a laboratory of torture. Her one salvation was the woman in the next cell, Strawberry Auden. Now Strawberry’s returned, and according to her, they’ll both make it to safety. But Emma’s plans have failed so many times that she has no hope left to lose.
As the two women seek to evade their pursuers, their friendship rekindles, and they are forced to confront both enemies and insecurities.
Lesbian F/F Romance
Fantasy – Magical Realism
Good vs. Evil
Disabled Character – Mute
This was a short story with a lot to love and enjoy, but in the end I think I was overwhelmingly confused by everything outside the story, which made it a struggle with each page.
This is a very short story (about 35 pages), and is a lovely magical realism F/F with no erotic content and a disabled (mute) character. Kayla delivers some stunning emotional prose, and I really loved the main character, Flip.
But here’s where this story went wrong for me:
- The summary. This is…. not the book, at all? I got this summary off various retailers. The story is about a young woman named Flip, told from her POV. The information mentioned about Emma is VERY background, and I don’t recall ever seeing the name Strawberry used? But some digging reveals a much more accurate summary at the GayYA Cover Reveal, so I’m wondering why this wasn’t used.
- Which leads to the summary at the GayYA, and the timeline mentioned there. The story “takes place in an alternate 1950s where two groups of people with magical powers fight for dominance”. And I…. did not pick up on this. At all. AU 1950s? I would never have known if I hadn’t read that line. Two groups fighting for dominance? More like a group of evil scientists studying magic?
- The title. I had to google “Splitsville”, because it wasn’t a word that I’d ever heard before, and apparently it’s slang for ending a romantic relationship. Again… not what the story is about.
Look, market this book for what it is, and the story is amazing. It’s a YA/NA magical realism/fantasy about two young women whose paths cross while they’re captured and being tortured to study their magical powers, and who reunite when Flip returns to the labs she escaped to rescue Emma. It’s sweet, and emotional.
If it had been advertised simply as that, and the author had stuck to the heart of the story, I would have given this 3.5 or 4 stars. But the confusion, the sense of disappointment and false advertising? Makes me want to rank it much lower, sorry.
She wasn’t exceptionally resilient or brave. But when she had been trapped in the lab, thinking of one special curly-haired girl had helped her feign those qualities for long enough.
Kayla is the author of several short novellas, all of which feature queer relationships (many F/F). I really enjoyed her novella California Skies, which is a western with a non-binary MC.
You can find Kayla on Goodreads!
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.