Book: Stealing Thunder
Author: Alina Boyden
Genre(s): Fantasy, LGBTT
Release: May 2020
Stealing Thunder was a book that had immense appeal for me. Inspired by the third gender that exists (and is legally recognized) in India known as the hijra, it stars Razia, a former prince living her true self as a hijra courtesan. Although I’m not trans myself, I was looking forward to experiencing a new perspective and couldn’t wait to read about a trans main character in a fantasy setting (fantasy is one my FAVORITE genres!). I went in with high hopes, although I hadn’t read many queer books, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
At the very least, I can say this was an interesting story, although that might be the extent of it for me. The story line is a typical romance trope – Razia meets a captivating client, who actually seems to like her for her, he finds out who she really is, they fall in love, and live happily ever after. It was a fluffy romance, which I didn’t mind at all, but story and character development didn’t happen until the last bit of the story.
Much of the story is propelled by Razia’s inner dialogue with herself, and the constant repetition of stating her past choices and history that led her to her current life, as well as all the things she missed when she used to be a prince – but it’s all okay because she’s living as her true self. It was exhausting and tedious to read the same thing for pretty much 75% of the story.
Any action that occurred was generally of Razia’s own doing as well – telling herself she couldn’t tell anyone who she was or what she did, and then divulging exactly that, causing herself angst and stress over telling people her secrets. What bothered me the most though, is that it really wasn’t a fantasy in any real regard. They had magical dragon-birds called “Zahhaks,” which were phenomenal and beautiful described, but that was the only aspect of the story that was fantastical in nature, and even then, you only really got to enjoy them at the very end.
All that being said, I loved the world-building. Boyden provided beautiful descriptions and imagery, and while reading, you could picture every aspect that was described. It was so colorful, and while the story itself was lacking, the descriptions compelled me to continue reading. The end of the book was by far the best; I was bored through most of the story until the end, and then it exploded in a flurry of action, adventure, and development.
Overall, this book was just okay, and I came out feeling more than a little disappointed. I would say that it’s worth a read though for the queer perspective and the imaginative language that pulls you through Razia’s world.
I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.