Review – That Self Same Metal by Brittany N. Williams
That Self-Same Metal is a bold and imaginative foray into a fictionalised 1605 London, where the historical and the fantastical intertwine with thought-provoking themes of race, gender, and power dynamics. The novel centres around Joan Sand, a black female teenager with a unique connection to the Orishas, granting her and her twin brother, James, extraordinary abilities in a world rife with both overt and covert racism.
The Heart of the Story
At its core, That Self-Same Metal is a story of defiance and identity. Joan, working as a stunt coordinator alongside her actor brother in a theatre company, navigates a society where women’s voices are literally and metaphorically silenced (unless you’re a queen). The book delves deep into the struggles of a young woman coming to terms with her own power in a world that seeks to limit it.
Thematic Richness of That Self Same Metal
Williams masterfully explores a plethora of significant themes:
- Race and Discrimination: The novel doesn’t shy away from depicting the realities of racism in a society where black people are integrated yet distinctly marginalized.
- Feminism and Gender Roles: Joan’s journey is a testament to the limited options available to women, challenging the societal norms of Stuart London.
- Supernatural Elements: The inclusion of Fae and the blessings of the Orishas add a layer of mysticism and wonder, enhancing the narrative’s depth.
- Shakespearean Influence: Theatre enthusiasts will appreciate the meticulous integration of Shakespearean plays and dialogue, adding authenticity to the setting.
Joan is portrayed as a multifaceted character, torn between her innate abilities, her aspirations, and the societal constraints imposed upon her as a black female. Her internal conflicts, coupled with romantic entanglements and a life-or-death struggle, make for a compelling protagonist.
Resolution and Continuity
Williams skilfully wraps up the first book’s plotlines while leaving ample scope for exploration in the sequel. The resolution is satisfying, yet it teases the reader with potential future developments.
Final Verdict on That Self Same Metal
That Self-Same Metal is a must-read for those intrigued by a blend of historical and fantastical elements, set in a richly imagined 1600s London. Williams’ novel is a thought-provoking journey through a world where societal norms are challenged, and the supernatural becomes a mirror for human struggles. It was a good read but never enthralled me mainly because I found Joan unlikeable (she complained as if she didn’t know how good she had it), her romantic endeavours were stated but never developed and the intricacies of the plays often mirroring current events was belaboured.
My thanks to NetGalley and publishers for a digital advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.
3 Stars - Liked It