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    Give In To This Feeling

    Sarah Zama writes a fascinating (self-described) diesel punk novella set entirely in a '20s Chicago speakeasy and the rooms above and below. The story focuses on a Chinese immigrant chorus girl and taxi dancer, Su Xie, known in America as Susie. The author weaves a curiously compelling narrative of human trafficking, control and compulsion, touched with tantalizingly ambiguous elements of fantasy that swirl around the two men competing for her love and loyalty, Blood (a refreshing new take on the stock Mysterious Stranger character) and Ma Shu (a creepily controlling and demonic pimp-protector). I'm not generally much of a fan of straight-up fantasy writing, but the author here holds her fantasy cards very close to her vest and plays them with restraint and subtlety. I love a plot line that leaves the reader some way to rationalize odd twists and turns as maybe just possible but still makes you say, "Hmmm..." Ms Zama writes in English but she's not a native speaker, which at first put me off. However, she seems wonderfully aware of this erstwhile problem and turns it on its head to enhance the sense of otherness felt by Susie as a stranger in a strange land, just as the author herself is a stranger working in a strange language. It just works for me, which signals a significant amount of self-awareness by the author. "Give In To The Feeling" is a ripping good read and I for one look forward to what this young author presents to us next.
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    Fell Short

    I enjoy reading supernatural-themed stories. This one, in particular, had so much potential for me but fell short. Here's why: Underdeveloped and rushed. The premise is interesting and the author's style of writing is pretty smooth, so I had no trouble with it holding my attention. I just had so many questions during and after and I felt they weren't really answered. Like, why were Blood and Michael in the speakeasy in the first place? Was their purpose for being there specifically for Susie? Where did they come from? What exactly was Blood's background? I would have liked to have seen a little more about Susie's background as well. What was it about Susie that made Simon want her so much? Were all of the club's employees spirits? I feel like this novella could have been a few pages longer to answer those questions. Or maybe I just missed some of the answers. Or maybe those answers are in another book. Even now I'm still wondering what happens next. So, while I enjoyed the author's style, I just felt the story was lacking. However, I enjoyed the author's voice, so I'd be willing to give another one of her books a try.

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