April 02, 2024

Someone You Can Build a Nest In

By John Wiswell
Review by
Horrific and fun, bloody and sweet, Someone You Can Build a Nest In is a deliciously dark fantasy romance starring a shape-shifting monster.
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When shape-shifting monster Shesheshen is woken from her hibernation by monster hunters, she does what she must: She kills and eats one of them. In retaliation, the nearby townsfolk, scared and desperate to hand over a “wyrm” heart to Baroness Wulfyre, poison Shesheshen with rosemary and hunt her until she toddles over a cliff . . . into the care of a kind human woman.

The sweet and tender Homily thinks Shesheshen is human, and laughs at the things Shesheshen says. She would be the perfect partner if she weren’t a Wulfyre, off to kill the beast who ate her brother. The more Shesheshen learns about Homily, the more she realizes how poorly Homily’s been treated by her family—and how desperately she wants Homily’s love. She’ll need to explain to Homily that the Wulfyres are the real monsters, and she’ll need to do it before they destroy all she holds dear.

John Wiswell has created a monster you’ll fall in love with.

Come for the body horror, stay for the romance: There’s a little something for everybody in Nebula Award-winner John Wiswell’s genre-blending debut novel, Someone You Can Build A Nest In. Told from the unexpected perspective of our sentient, hungry blob of a protagonist, this innovative gem doesn’t shy away from the sweet or the unsavory. Her penchant for absorbing things into her body to make bones—or to hide bear traps in her chest as future weapons—is inventive and gruesome, the perfect balance of horrific and fun. Wiswell pulls from fairy tales of yore to build an intriguing world, including the unique landscape of the isthmus where the action takes place, herbal science and an adorable big blue bear. 

Wiswell is best known for his award-winning short stories, experience which is evident in bite-sized chapters that readers will swiftly devour. But it’s the emotional core, Shesheshen and Homily’s asexual and sapphic bond of solace, that will ultimately hook their hearts. A romp that’s both bloody and sweet, Someone You Can Build a Nest In will delight readers who loved Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth and Alix E. Harrow’s A Spindle Splintered.

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