web site hit counter Skyward Inn - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Skyward Inn

Availability: Ready to download

Skyward Inn, within the high walls of the Western Protectorate, is a place of safety, where people come together to tell stories of the time before the war with Qita. But safety from what? Qita surrendered without complaint when Earth invaded; Innkeepers Jem and Isley, veterans from either side, have regrets but few scars. Their peace is disturbed when a visitor known to Is Skyward Inn, within the high walls of the Western Protectorate, is a place of safety, where people come together to tell stories of the time before the war with Qita. But safety from what? Qita surrendered without complaint when Earth invaded; Innkeepers Jem and Isley, veterans from either side, have regrets but few scars. Their peace is disturbed when a visitor known to Isley comes to the Inn asking for help, bringing reminders of an unnerving past and triggering an uncertain future. Did humanity really win the war? A thoughtful, literary novel about conflict, identity and community; a fresh new perspective in speculative fiction from critically-acclaimed writer Aliya Whiteley. Jamaica Inn by way of Jeff Vandermeer, Ursula Le Guin, Angela Carter and Michel Faber, Skyward Inn is a beautiful story of belonging, identity and regret.


Compare

Skyward Inn, within the high walls of the Western Protectorate, is a place of safety, where people come together to tell stories of the time before the war with Qita. But safety from what? Qita surrendered without complaint when Earth invaded; Innkeepers Jem and Isley, veterans from either side, have regrets but few scars. Their peace is disturbed when a visitor known to Is Skyward Inn, within the high walls of the Western Protectorate, is a place of safety, where people come together to tell stories of the time before the war with Qita. But safety from what? Qita surrendered without complaint when Earth invaded; Innkeepers Jem and Isley, veterans from either side, have regrets but few scars. Their peace is disturbed when a visitor known to Isley comes to the Inn asking for help, bringing reminders of an unnerving past and triggering an uncertain future. Did humanity really win the war? A thoughtful, literary novel about conflict, identity and community; a fresh new perspective in speculative fiction from critically-acclaimed writer Aliya Whiteley. Jamaica Inn by way of Jeff Vandermeer, Ursula Le Guin, Angela Carter and Michel Faber, Skyward Inn is a beautiful story of belonging, identity and regret.

30 review for Skyward Inn

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jthbooks

    I can’t give this a rating yet as I can’t make up my mind. I’ve never read anything like it. Ok I’ve decided I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this book before. It was one of those books that when I finished reading it, it took me a while to decide how to feel about it. I just had to sit and think about it. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I loved it. Skyward Inn is so other worldly, its got another planet, a kissing gate and another species. And the author manages to pack in I can’t give this a rating yet as I can’t make up my mind. I’ve never read anything like it. Ok I’ve decided I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this book before. It was one of those books that when I finished reading it, it took me a while to decide how to feel about it. I just had to sit and think about it. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I loved it. Skyward Inn is so other worldly, its got another planet, a kissing gate and another species. And the author manages to pack in a lot of details about this everything to do with this because the book is only 251 pages. So imaginative, especially the other species. I loved how the author connected Western Protectorate and Qita, especially when you realise how the book ends. I also loved what Aliya did with the illness that people think is spreading on Western Protectorate, and then you see it from the Qitan perspective. It almost felt ethereal by the end. With this book being so other worldly, it is innately human. At the centre of this book its a relationship between a mother and son. Their relationship is so intricate and fragile and it’s fantastic to read. It shows that the two characters are flawed and how it affects there nonexistent relationship and I just found it to be really realistic. My favourite section of Skyward Inn, is when Fosse arrives on the planet Qita and he goes on a journey with his Qitan ‘tour guide’. I felt a real connection between the two and its also where we see Fosse become the character I loved. But there’s a part of the journey where Fosse has to make a decision as it comes to an end and I have to say i found it really emotional. I didn’t know what he was going to do or I didn’t know what I wanted him to do. This section was perfectly written. It was subtle but really emotive. I loved it. At the heart of this novel is Fosse, who is a character I don’t think I’ll ever forget. He’s a character you’re not sure if you’ll like at first, but you seem grow and change and you really grow to care for him. He became so gentle. In fact the whole novel has a gentleness to it. He is just so well written and Aliya has created a character with real depth. I will say I had no idea where this book was going. It became such a character driven story that I found the ending to quite emotional. Some things happen (no spoilers) and because of the connection between characters it felt so personal. As I said before its like nothing I’ve read before and I’m so glad I’ve read it.I would definitely recommend this book. It’s a book that’ll make you think, make you care for the characters and will keep you intrigued till the very last page. The more I think about this book, the more I love it. I know I’ll definitely be rereading it. Please read this book so I can have someone to talk to about it. It’s out March 16th. Thanks to Rebellion Publishing for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Skyward Inn is a sci-fi retelling of Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn and a weird and increasingly surrealist story of love, belonging, and togetherness. Skyward Inn, on the moorlands of the Western Protectorate, is removed from modern technology and politics. When humans first went through the ‘Kissing Gate’ to the planet Qita, the protectorate turned its back on modern civilization to live in rural isolation. Although there is a spaceport nearby, the villagers have nothing to do with it. Theirs Skyward Inn is a sci-fi retelling of Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn and a weird and increasingly surrealist story of love, belonging, and togetherness. Skyward Inn, on the moorlands of the Western Protectorate, is removed from modern technology and politics. When humans first went through the ‘Kissing Gate’ to the planet Qita, the protectorate turned its back on modern civilization to live in rural isolation. Although there is a spaceport nearby, the villagers have nothing to do with it. Theirs is a quiet life – The Protectorate has stood apart from the coalition of world powers that has formed. Instead, the inhabitants choose to live simply, many of them farming by day and drinking the local brew at night. The co-owners of the inn, a traditional English village pub, are Jem and Isley. Jem, a veteran of the coalitions’ war on the perfect, peaceful planet of Qita, has a smile for everyone in the bar. She abandoned her baby years earlier for a decade-long contract to plaster Qita with propaganda posters, which is where she met her partner Isley. Isley does his cooking in the kitchen and his brewing in the cellar. He’s Qitan, but it’s all right – the locals treat him like one of their own. They think they understand him, but it’s only Jem who knows his homeland well enough to recreate it in the stories she tells him at dawn. But their peace is disturbed when a visitor comes to Skyward Inn, bringing reminders of an unnerving past and triggering an uncertain future. This is a strange, gentle, utterly beautiful book about how humanity might live alongside other people wholly unlike us – and about how we live alongside each other. It's exciting, refreshingly original speculative fiction from the pen of one of the fiercest British writers in the genre at present and is very much a character-driven novel full of strangeness and a thoroughly intriguing plot. Her vivid imagination allows her to create unpredictable, intricate, sprawling worlds rich in detail with plenty of surprises and a real feel of reading something special. It is a slow-burn tale from the very beginning and continues that way as it progresses giving Whitely ample time to craft complex, multi-layered worlds and populate said worlds with superbly developed characters and interesting lore. Through all of this, Whitely still manages to explore issues of large-scale colonisation, assimilation and invasion, among others. It's thoughtful, intelligent and asks questions of the idea of the individual and the collective, of ownership and historical possession, and of the experience of being human, it is at once timeless and thoroughly of its time. Highly recommended to those who enjoy bizarre science fiction. Highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Para (wanderer)

    ARC received from the publisher (Solaris) in exchange for an honest review. I’m always on the lookout for more SFF slice of life. Especially weird literary SFF slice of life. So when Fabienne brought this book to my attention, I knew I’d have to read it. And it turned out to be one of the most unique things I’ve found in a while – at the same time somehow a seamless blend of super chill sci-fi slice of life (slight Becky Chambers vibes anyone?) and something altogether more unsettling. We burn ARC received from the publisher (Solaris) in exchange for an honest review. I’m always on the lookout for more SFF slice of life. Especially weird literary SFF slice of life. So when Fabienne brought this book to my attention, I knew I’d have to read it. And it turned out to be one of the most unique things I’ve found in a while – at the same time somehow a seamless blend of super chill sci-fi slice of life (slight Becky Chambers vibes anyone?) and something altogether more unsettling. We burn history down, over and over, as an act of remembrance. When there are no answers, there is recollection, and repetition. Jem and Isley – a human and a Qitan alien – manage the titular Skyward Inn. It’s a place where people from a small village in the Protectorate, a community of humans that rejects technological progress, can share a drink and exchange stories of the past. It all starts as a very quiet slice of life story, just Jem’s POV, in first person, alternating with that of her estranged teenage son, in third person, following their daily lives, but it slowly and seamlessly blends in an element of strangeness bordering on horror. There is a very literary feel to it and the prose is absolutely stunning. Even though it’s a very short novel, it felt exactly as long as it needs to be. I loved how natural and gradual the change in tone felt – never jarring, and even though I’m a wimp who normally avoids horror like the plague and is especially sensitive to body horror, I wasn’t ever terrified or disgusted enough to stop reading. Creeped out, sure, but not in a way that’d be a dealbreaker. In addition to that, it also touches upon complex family relationships, space colonization and how it affects communities, and personal autonomy. The tagline, “this is a place where we can be alone, together” is very on point. Only now I realise it hits another of my favourite tropes, books that take place after a big conflict is done and deal with its aftermath. It’s not a central plot since the focus is firmly on the characters, but it’s there. Most highly recommended. Enjoyment: 4.5/5 Execution: 5/5 Recommended to: slice of life fans, prose appreciators, those looking for something unique Not recommended to: those who are turned off by (maybe contagious) body horror Content warnings: body horror, epidemic More reviews on my blog, To Other Worlds.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    In England's rural Southwest, the Protectorate has annexed itself from the Coalition of world powers. Jem, a veteran of the interplanetary war with the Qitans, runs the Skyward Inn, the Protectorate’s community hub. The novel contemplates belonging, othering (domestic and galactic), and how we process uncomfortable truths. Reference or metaphor is made also to conspiracy theories, resistance to change, language use(s), the living world, evolution and primordial soup. Whiteley's characters are real In England's rural Southwest, the Protectorate has annexed itself from the Coalition of world powers. Jem, a veteran of the interplanetary war with the Qitans, runs the Skyward Inn, the Protectorate’s community hub. The novel contemplates belonging, othering (domestic and galactic), and how we process uncomfortable truths. Reference or metaphor is made also to conspiracy theories, resistance to change, language use(s), the living world, evolution and primordial soup. Whiteley's characters are real and affecting. She adroitly handles non-linear time, and melds the humdrum with the perilous: the minutes of weekly Council meetings record decisions taken on the use of surplus apples in schools, alongside quarantine regulations against an unidentified disease. The author's previous works include The Secret Life of Fungi: Discoveries From A Hidden World (non-fiction) and The Beauty (fiction), and here she shows her interest in the collective remains unabated. Original and thought-provoking. My thanks to NetGalley and Solaris for the ARC.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    Thanks to NetGalley and Solaris (Rebellion) for providing an ARC!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lena (Sufficiently Advanced Lena)

    I'm still losing my mind a little bit with this book but first of all, thanks to Rebellion Publishing for sending me a copy of this book for review! Do you Dream of Terra-Two meets Annihilation So, let me tell you the story about why I requested this book. I though that it was going to be one of those philosophical sci-fis, filled with metaphors, the meaning of humanity, etc. I was looking for something similar to Do You Dream of Terra-Two and boy, oh boy, was I right and wrong. We start following I'm still losing my mind a little bit with this book but first of all, thanks to Rebellion Publishing for sending me a copy of this book for review! Do you Dream of Terra-Two meets Annihilation So, let me tell you the story about why I requested this book. I though that it was going to be one of those philosophical sci-fis, filled with metaphors, the meaning of humanity, etc. I was looking for something similar to Do You Dream of Terra-Two and boy, oh boy, was I right and wrong. We start following Jem, who owns the Skyward Inn along with Isley, both of them from diferent sides of the war between the Qitans and humans. One day another Qitan named Won, shows up and things start to get weird. Little did I know about the turn this book will take. When I started Skyward Inn I knew I was going to enjoy it and at the beginning it drag a little bit for my taste, I was pretty sure I was going to give it 3 stars but DAMN WAS I WRONG. Towards the middle of the book we are still given a lot of metaphorical thinking, usually through Jem consuming the Brew, a drink that makes you, how can we call it? More peaceful. But things take a turn when others strangers show up, quarantine is being imposed in some zones because of a weird disease and something really weird is going on in Qita. Every single character felt extremelly real also and I really liked the writing style and the narration in general, mostly because I really enjoy this type of, let's call it, philosophical reads. So maybe this might not be for you, but try it anyway, because the ending really blew my mind and I think it's the best part of the novel! I wish I could tell you more but I really want to keep this spoiler free, still the most important question is in the back of the book. Did humanity really win the war?

  7. 5 out of 5

    The Book Sheelf

    A few weeks ago I read, enjoyed, and reviewed Aliya Whiteley’s ‘The Secret Life of Fungi’, so when I was caught in the throes of a late-night @netgalley binge, spotted this striking cover and recognised the name (and after a quick Google, confirmed that they were the same person and that Aliya is a fairly prolific author of Sci-Fi and speculative fiction), I was really intrigued. The synopsis is sparse and, having now finished it, I’m similarly stumped on how to describe this book. It’s the kind A few weeks ago I read, enjoyed, and reviewed Aliya Whiteley’s ‘The Secret Life of Fungi’, so when I was caught in the throes of a late-night @netgalley binge, spotted this striking cover and recognised the name (and after a quick Google, confirmed that they were the same person and that Aliya is a fairly prolific author of Sci-Fi and speculative fiction), I was really intrigued. The synopsis is sparse and, having now finished it, I’m similarly stumped on how to describe this book. It’s the kind of story that leaves you feeling strangely sluggish and foggy-headed when you turn the final (in this case, electronic) page. My head is still whirring with the utter strangeness and unsettling nature of this book, still unpacking the various layers of meaning and turning over the various, complex character relationships that I think really made this unusual story so compelling. I loved the evocative prose, the stark contrasts between the utterly alien world of Qita, and the familiarity of The Protectorate (once known as Devon) back on Earth. The world-building is almost as sparse as the synopsis, leaving plenty of gaping holes for the reader to fill with imagination and speculation, and what is explained is unraveled at a sleepy, tantalising pace. This is very much a character-driven narrative and it was the interactions between those characters that really captured my imagination, particularly the strange nature of the relationship between Jem and Isley, proprietors of the Skyward Inn. It seems to be receiving mixed feedback so far which doesn’t surprise me in the least. This won’t be for everyone, it’s languidly paced and when it does really hit its stride, distinctly strange and unsettling but I really enjoyed it. It’s certainly not often that I feel this level of urgency to scribble down my thoughts before they lose their sharpness. Described as ‘Jamaica Inn by way of Vandermeer, Le Guin, Carter and Michel Faber’, I’d like to speak to the validity of the comparisons but I haven’t read any of them! Huge thanks to @netgalley and @rebellionpublishing for my early copy. Out on the 18th March.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sydney S

    Hmm. How do I rate this? I think I really enjoyed it? The vibe is very VanderMeer’s Annihilation meets Avatar. There’s the sense of unknowing, unanswered questions, and being a fly on the wall. I tend to love that style, but this is a book I can see a lot of people not liking and I can understand that. There’s something both comforting and unnerving about writing styles like this. It’s soft and slow, confusing in a way I can appreciate. I think it’s difficult to do well because you have to balanc Hmm. How do I rate this? I think I really enjoyed it? The vibe is very VanderMeer’s Annihilation meets Avatar. There’s the sense of unknowing, unanswered questions, and being a fly on the wall. I tend to love that style, but this is a book I can see a lot of people not liking and I can understand that. There’s something both comforting and unnerving about writing styles like this. It’s soft and slow, confusing in a way I can appreciate. I think it’s difficult to do well because you have to balance everything just right. The characters/stories/worlds must be both anonymous and intimate with the reader, which sounds like a contradiction, and I think this story is made up of contradictions. Alone together. You always want to know more than you are told, see more than you are shown. Some stories can work with these limits, and I think this is one of them. It’s definitely weird, but not until the halfway point. I was getting antsy for about 50% of the book, craving some otherness, something to make me uncomfortable or unsettled. That doesn’t really happen until the last 20% of so, but it does get a little weird before then. I guessed the end at 61% (according to Kindle), so it wasn’t exactly unpredictable or a twist, but it still hit me hard when it was confirmed. Gave me the tightening in my chest feeling that I like when reading cosmic horror/new weird. I wish I could go into more detail, but I refuse to spoil anything. (I never write about the plots of books in my reviews. You can just read the summary yourself provided by the publishers if you want to know more about that.) I didn't find any of the characters to be particularly "likable"(and I don't think they're supposed to be), but I still liked reading about them. I ended up really enjoying Fosse’s storyline. At first I didn’t see the point of switching perspectives when we saw his from third person, but it grew on me. It’s like I understand him but also don’t understand him at all. That contradictions thing again. I like that feeling, and I want to know him better. Does he have intrusive thoughts? Imp of the perverse? Does he have dissociative disorder? Where does his moral compass point? What does he really want? So many questions. I liked being in his head because it made me uncomfortable. I think it’s pretty impressive how the author manages to include small moments of heart and humor in the book, despite it being a generally serious story. They’re few, but when you hit them it helps to break up the story. There are also some wonderfully lyrical moments, simply beautiful words and scenes that take you into the worlds. Overall, how do I feel? I feel conflicted. There's a sense of connectedness to the story/worlds/characters that I find myself having trouble separating from. I finished this book very quickly, considering I don’t like reading books digitally and usually have to stop more often to rest my eyes. I think I loved it? There’s just that other part of me that’s confused with that feeling, because I can’t pinpoint why I enjoyed it. It's left me feeling very strange and unsure. I guess I’ll just say that if you enjoy VanderMeer’s style and can let yourself get swept into a (generally) slow, soft narrative with a few weird additions to the scenic route, you might like this. I know I’ll be buying myself a physical copy when it comes out, so maybe I really do love it. Thank you to Rebellion for this ARC! I had been dying to read it ever since I saw the blurb a month ago comparing it to VanderMeer.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hailey Donna

    Skyward Inn was certainly unique. I took a few days after I finished reading this book to collect my thoughts and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel. On the one hand, Aliya Whiteley succeeded at creating an engaging novel that captivates the reader. I was thoroughly invested in the story and I didn't want to put the book down, however, I'm not sure if that's a credit to the actual writing or simply an indication of how confused I was and much I wanted answers. I was a bit irked by the altern Skyward Inn was certainly unique. I took a few days after I finished reading this book to collect my thoughts and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel. On the one hand, Aliya Whiteley succeeded at creating an engaging novel that captivates the reader. I was thoroughly invested in the story and I didn't want to put the book down, however, I'm not sure if that's a credit to the actual writing or simply an indication of how confused I was and much I wanted answers. I was a bit irked by the alternating points-of-view (Jem's was first person, yet Fosse's was third person) and I thought that some unnecessary elements were added simply to unsettle the reader, when the surrealist nature of the book would have been sufficiently unsettling on it's own. I really could have done without Fosse's masturbatory scenes at the farm and the rather distasteful revelation about "brew" and bodily fluids. There was also a sudden and unexplained timeline shift toward the end of the book that didn't feel all that effective as a plot device. Initially, the book seemed to be a commentary about colonialism and the exploitation of indigenous peoples, their land and their resources. When the "Kissing Gates" appear on Earth, humans immediately seize the opportunity to mount a military incursion on the planet of Qita. They then take advantage of the Qitan's peaceful nature in order to appropriate the planet's resources and bring them back to Earth. (view spoiler)[Ultimately, it is revealed that the Qitan's aren't quite as docile as they appear, and that maybe it isn't the humans who are the colonizers. So perhaps the story is actually a critique of human arrogance. Either way, it was a stunning twist that I very much was not expecting. (hide spoiler)] The author also makes a powerful statement about the nature of assimilation and how little choice people are often given in the matter. Most of the story is set in the Western Protectorate, which seceded from the UK and rejected all modern technology following the appearance of the Kissing Gates. I thought that the Western Protectorate beautifully encapsulated the concept of hiraeth, a Welsh word with no true English equivalent that can be translated as a "longing for a home that no longer exists or never was". Many characters in the book have an idealized, nostalgic view of the Protectorate that they try to cling to even if change is inevitable. I think that in our rapidly changing world, where technology seems to take precedence, the desire for simpler times will resonate with a lot of readers. At then end of the day, I do think that Skyward Inn is a worthwhile read. Stylistically, it's quite different from other books on the market and the content will challenge the reader's perceptions and leave them thinking long after they finish reading. Thank you to NetGalley and Solaris Books for providing this ARC.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Haider

    hmmm. How to describe this book... Skyward Inn is set on Earth in the near/semi-distant future in a time after a big war and after we've made contact with an alien race via a gateway. Earth established a base on Qita in order to help collect natural resources from that planet. Many Earth troops were sent to "the raid" which ended up being kind of less than expected since the Qita seemed open and welcoming. Back on Earth, veteran Jem lives in The Protectorate, a corner of England where a group of hmmm. How to describe this book... Skyward Inn is set on Earth in the near/semi-distant future in a time after a big war and after we've made contact with an alien race via a gateway. Earth established a base on Qita in order to help collect natural resources from that planet. Many Earth troops were sent to "the raid" which ended up being kind of less than expected since the Qita seemed open and welcoming. Back on Earth, veteran Jem lives in The Protectorate, a corner of England where a group of people have closed themselves off from the rest of the world in an effort to live in the "old way" with reduced/no technology. Jem operates the Skyward Inn, where she serves up brew with her partner Isley, a native of Qita. Then an old friend of Isley's shows up asking for help. So, this was definitely a slow burn and a more literary approach to sci-fi. It starts much more about life on Earth in The Protectorate and how Jem, her son, and other residents are getting along with life. There is some prejudice against Isley since he is from Qita and Jem tries to push back on that. The premise held promise for me but didn't quite gel for me in the end . (view spoiler)[(which is ironic giving the plot line, you'll see if you read the book...). (hide spoiler)] I will poke around and see what else this author has available because I see a spark of something I like there. :) What to listen to while reading... Alien Days by MGMT A Lot's Gonna Change by Weyes Blood Call it Fate, Call it Karma by The Strokes Space Song by Beach House Love and Truth by Mother Mother Summer Breeze by The Isley Brothers Across the Universe by The Beatles Thank you to the publisher for the review copy!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    In the aftermath of an interplanetary war that appears to have been resolved peacefully, Jem, a human woman, and Isley, a Qitan from the planet attacked by humankind, run the Skyward Inn, a social hub for the local community. Serving the mysterious and renowned "brew" provided by Isley, the Skyward is situated in the Protectorate - actually a part of Devon which appears to have broken away from the UK to form a kind of cooperative paradise, with many of the trappings we might imagine of that set In the aftermath of an interplanetary war that appears to have been resolved peacefully, Jem, a human woman, and Isley, a Qitan from the planet attacked by humankind, run the Skyward Inn, a social hub for the local community. Serving the mysterious and renowned "brew" provided by Isley, the Skyward is situated in the Protectorate - actually a part of Devon which appears to have broken away from the UK to form a kind of cooperative paradise, with many of the trappings we might imagine of that setting, including boring meetings and people going without certain things. Despite the bucolic setting, it's clear from the outset that not all is well. Isley the Qitan knows to stay out of people's way, and Jem is also shunned when she isn't playing the friendly barmaid role at the Skyward. Meanwhile, Fosse, Jem's son, is kicking against the constraints of the Protectorate - and when he discovers a family squatting in an empty farm, they offer him the potential for escape. But what is the strange spell that comes over Jem when she drinks Isley's brew? Why has a Qitan known to Isley appeared in the Skyward's cellar, and what is their relationship? Rumours of a new plague spreading outside the Protectorate only heighten the sense of paranoia and growing horror - especially when unsettling things start happening at home, too. This is a short, compelling novel with evocative, absorbing prose. Whiteley slowly builds the growing sense of a world that is not what we believe - see for example her description of Fosse's panic attack early on: "...panic had set in and the wheezing started soon after, just like it used to when he had been small and scared all the time, with his mother gone away. It was not just the land that hated him then - the air itself had turned against him." The novel raises questions about colonialism, personal autonomy, connection and violence, without necessarily posing definite answers (my favourite kind of questions) - although the ending sounds out a vital note of hope. Thank you to Rebellion Publishing for allowing me to read an advance copy of Skyward Inn. This is the first longer piece of fiction I've read by Aliya Whiteley, and I will be seeking out more of her work now. It's also the first time since I was a child that I finished a story and turned immediately back to the beginning - finding it even more absorbing and interesting the second time through. I really, really recommend it if you like strong, evocative prose and thoughtful writing alongside compelling characters and fascinating world-building.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    DNFed at 50 pages. This is definitely a case of 'it's not you, it's me'. I think Skyward Inn is a lovely and unique book that will appeal to lots of readers of literary sci-fi, but it wasn't one that ended up clicking with me. It's a slow burn, something I don't usually mind, but I couldn't find myself connecting to the characters or their stories. As I work through my TBR, I am DNFing at a much more brutal rate and Skyward Inn got the chop. However, I'd recommend it if you're looking for a lyrica DNFed at 50 pages. This is definitely a case of 'it's not you, it's me'. I think Skyward Inn is a lovely and unique book that will appeal to lots of readers of literary sci-fi, but it wasn't one that ended up clicking with me. It's a slow burn, something I don't usually mind, but I couldn't find myself connecting to the characters or their stories. As I work through my TBR, I am DNFing at a much more brutal rate and Skyward Inn got the chop. However, I'd recommend it if you're looking for a lyrical sci-fi novel.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ian Green

    Full review will appear on BSFA site. Brief review: Skyward Inn is a beautifully realised story, with achingly engaging prose that is lyrically evocative of both the familiar countryside of the Protectorate and simultaneously the utterly alien world of Qita. The novel has many strengths- in addition to the prose, the world-building is cunningly layered and slowly revealed. The relationships of Jem with her brother, son, and companion Isley are intricately realised. Whiteley is not reliant on viole Full review will appear on BSFA site. Brief review: Skyward Inn is a beautifully realised story, with achingly engaging prose that is lyrically evocative of both the familiar countryside of the Protectorate and simultaneously the utterly alien world of Qita. The novel has many strengths- in addition to the prose, the world-building is cunningly layered and slowly revealed. The relationships of Jem with her brother, son, and companion Isley are intricately realised. Whiteley is not reliant on violence and bombast to propel the plot forward, but what begins as a gentle and thoughtful meditation on guilt and conflict and community evolves into a wider plot, that is all the more effective for having taken the time to effectively set up its players. The latter stages of the novel enter a realm of weird that evokes Jeff VanderMeer or even hints of Lovecraftian imagery, but throughout what comes to the fore is the utterly serious way in which Whiteley treats her characters, world, and theme, and it is Ursula K. Le Guin that comes to mind most of all in comparison. This is a novel that is intelligent and rewarding and sweet and heart-breaking and horrible; it raises questions gently but does not allow our eyes to avert. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    I read this book as a palate cleanser after some really disappointing science fiction and sure enough this was much more my speed. Which is to say a literary novel that deals with really important socially relevant themes, set in a futuristic world, specifically, a world where people have mastered space travel and discovered a new planet Qita and the lovely easygoing peaceable Qitans. Anyone with even passing familiarity of the past is aware how such stories usually end…with genocide. Occasional I read this book as a palate cleanser after some really disappointing science fiction and sure enough this was much more my speed. Which is to say a literary novel that deals with really important socially relevant themes, set in a futuristic world, specifically, a world where people have mastered space travel and discovered a new planet Qita and the lovely easygoing peaceable Qitans. Anyone with even passing familiarity of the past is aware how such stories usually end…with genocide. Occasionally, one turned into a quaint family based food themed celebration, even. But this time, things don’t quite follow that scenario, wherein lies the singularly original spark of this novel. On Earth the story takes place in remote moorlands of the Western Protectorate, an insular community living their lives as free of modernity and technology as possible, following a split from the mainland on ideological basis. The locals disagree with the direction the world has taken and think they can be happier on their own, you can’t help but think of Brexit, especially with the location. Skyward Inn is the local pub, operated by Jem, a local woman who has traveled to the stars and back and now returned with her soulmate, a Qitan named Isley. The community has more or less learned to accept him, wary as they are of aliens, primarily due to his cooking and brewing skills and everyone’s more or less uniformly hooked on his alcoholic beverage, the origin of which is going to be a special delight to discover later on. The story is told from dual perspectives, of Jem and her teenage son, whom her brother has raised. They are not close, but in a community this small and isolated, they are never far from each other either. That’s basically the entire theme of the book. Everyone connection, between Jem and her son and her brother and Isley, between the neighbors, the locals and eventually the Qitans…it all deals with aloneness and togetherness, in every aspect of the concept, including some imaginatively alarming ones. In fact, the book gets quite trippy with it after a while, but eventually does come through with shining colors toward a disturbingly epic sort of an ending. A logical if only otherworldly (in every way) conclusion. It’s a sort of thing that is impossible to talk about without giving the plot away, so I won’t. Suffice it to say, it’s very original and very surreal. The sort of thing that makes it possible to sum up the novel in one sentence, but also one that very effectively delivers its message. It’s almost like a sci fi fable, in fact that’s how I’d describe it. Interesting, different, imaginative, melancholy, poignant…it’s certainly worth a read. Very nicely done for a debut. Not too long, not too indulgent and very well written. Not the fastest paced story, but it wasn’t meant to be, the book reads fairly quickly though. And leaves you with a somewhat dazed aftereffect, a strangely compelling surrealistic work of art that demands an audience to shout its message. A very original take on that old why can’t we all just get along nugget. It wasn't quite love for me, more like a definite appreciation. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    “Alone is not a place I can go to, but the place that’s left behind after everyone else has gone.” “What did I just read?” -me after finishing this book. 😂 So, I had mixed feelings on this book. I found it hard to get into—the beginning was confusing and I didn’t know what was happening. After a while (maybe 1/4 into the book), that got better and then I started to enjoy the book more. Also, the last 1/4 or so was way more engaging. It was very well written and creative. But also the way it was writ “Alone is not a place I can go to, but the place that’s left behind after everyone else has gone.” “What did I just read?” -me after finishing this book. 😂 So, I had mixed feelings on this book. I found it hard to get into—the beginning was confusing and I didn’t know what was happening. After a while (maybe 1/4 into the book), that got better and then I started to enjoy the book more. Also, the last 1/4 or so was way more engaging. It was very well written and creative. But also the way it was written made me feel a bit disconnected from the story at times. But, by the end, this piece had improved some as well. It was intriguing and confusing and weird. This is a novel I will likely think about a lot because it was so weird and engaging while also having large sections I didn’t love? Wording my thoughts on such an odd and unique book is HARD. But it was engaging because I always had so many questions about what was going to happen and it felt unpredictable. I’d say as long as the writing style is a good fit for you, you’ll love it. Specifically, the way I’ve seen it phrased in other reviews, is this book may be for you if you are a fan of literary sci-fi, books full of surrealism, and books using philosophical writing. I had a lot of difficulty rating this book. I wanted to be aware that I really didn’t like the first 1/4, but it got better, and the last 1/4 was so weird and interesting. I ended up deciding to go 3/5 overall, despite originally considering a lower rating, because maybe parts of it weren’t for me, but others may LOVE this. Also, I feel like I am going to be thinking about this book for a long time and after finishing it I had this immediate “wtf” response that I think the author needed a lot of skill to create. Have I mentioned this book is weird? 😂

  16. 4 out of 5

    Traveling Cloak

    Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley is a really trippy science fiction novel about the aftermath of a war on another planet, called Qita. The Inn serves as a gathering place for residents: a place where they can imbibe and connect with others; that is, until a new face disturbs the peace. I have to say, Skyward Inn is one of the trippiest books I have ever read. I may just be dense, but I was probably halfway through the book before I realized where the story was heading. And I am not complaining about Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley is a really trippy science fiction novel about the aftermath of a war on another planet, called Qita. The Inn serves as a gathering place for residents: a place where they can imbibe and connect with others; that is, until a new face disturbs the peace. I have to say, Skyward Inn is one of the trippiest books I have ever read. I may just be dense, but I was probably halfway through the book before I realized where the story was heading. And I am not complaining about that fact, as I attribute it to Whiteley’s phenomenal writing that the author was able to keep me in the dark for so long. I do not want to say too much about the plot, because it is something you want to EXPERIENCE. I just really loved the writing style. Even when I was not sure about the narrative track, I was still engaged with the plot. It is really atmospheric, as one might expect a story about an inn on another planet to be. The author sets the stage by using very moody language that is really tonal. The way the story unfolds slowly, deliberately grabbing ahold of the reader piece by piece is a phenomenal approach. I really appreciated the measured manner in which the book was written. Weirdly, the individual characters were not very important to me. And I am okay with that, for the most part. Due to the way the plot develops, I think that was purposeful on the part of the author, at least later in the book. The beginning does rely on Jem to carry the load a little, which I did not think was all that successful. There is a lot of talk about her relationship with Isley, but it is really unclear what happened and why that is important for a long time. So, focusing on this in the beginning was not really impactful for me, as a reader; and, to be honest, it did not matter to me in the end. Again, I am not sure if this is purposeful or not on the author’s part. If Whiteley was trying to unfold relationships the way the author did the plot, I would say it was a miss. If the plan was always to have the characters be secondary to the narrative, then I tip my hat to the author. I like to think it was the latter, because that is how I experienced the book. Others may not feel the same. In the end, I really enjoyed reading Skyward Inn. Its slow-paced story that gently revealed itself may seem underwhelming at first, but the direction of of the plot took the narrative to a surprising and satisfying place. This book is not for everyone, though. If you are looking for a book that does not fit into any tropes or boxes and are willing to keep an open mind, I recommend it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

    Skyward Inn follows Jem and her son, in a near-future Earth, where humanity has made contact with alien life. Jem's community has reacted to the changing world by shutting itself off from most of humanity, forgoing advancement and integration with the larger universe in favour of clinging desperately to the nostalgic version of life they've long embraced. Skyward Inn was unlike much of the science fiction I've read to date, skewing more towards the speculative than pure sci-fi. The narrative wasn Skyward Inn follows Jem and her son, in a near-future Earth, where humanity has made contact with alien life. Jem's community has reacted to the changing world by shutting itself off from most of humanity, forgoing advancement and integration with the larger universe in favour of clinging desperately to the nostalgic version of life they've long embraced. Skyward Inn was unlike much of the science fiction I've read to date, skewing more towards the speculative than pure sci-fi. The narrative wasn't always linear, and the story was more concerned with exploring the human condition than getting from point A to point B. The characters felt more like symbols and collections of ideas than distinct characters, eschewing individual characteristics in favour of archetypes. The strangers represent danger, the patriarch represents protectionism, and so on. Personally, I'm more prone to enjoying a book that features characters that feels more concrete, with more fleshed-out characteristics and relatable motivations, but those figures perhaps would not have felt at home in a narrative like Skyward Inn. Skyward Inn will appeal to readers who enjoy less straightforward, more experimental stories. While it does feature classic sci-fi elements like aliens and space travel, the book is ultimately much more interested in exploring what it means to be human than anything outside of earth's borders.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Rouillard

    When a gateway opens in space to a planet called Qita, the local inhabitants’ peaceful acquiescence of human occupation averts a war. But are their intentions really peaceful? And what happens when avaricious expansionism is faced with a force even more powerful and inexorable. Back on earth, the Skyward Inn, run by Jem and Isley, is a gathering place within the cloistered community of the Western Protectorate, where the locals come to drink Qitan brew and share stories. But a strange sickness ha When a gateway opens in space to a planet called Qita, the local inhabitants’ peaceful acquiescence of human occupation averts a war. But are their intentions really peaceful? And what happens when avaricious expansionism is faced with a force even more powerful and inexorable. Back on earth, the Skyward Inn, run by Jem and Isley, is a gathering place within the cloistered community of the Western Protectorate, where the locals come to drink Qitan brew and share stories. But a strange sickness has begun to afflict the humans of the Protectorate, and when a stranger arrives at Skyward Inn, the harmony of Jem and Isley’s partnership is broken. Highly recommended for fans of Jeff VanderMeer’s 'Southern Reach' trilogy, this is a surreal and thought-provoking exploration of colonialism, assimilation and identity, that is simultaneously horrifying and comforting. 'Skyward Inn' is a brilliantly unnerving blend of sinister and sincere and it will be haunting my thoughts for a while!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    Written in a mannered style reminiscent of 1950s British writers, this SFF novel is a turns engaging and fresh and at others slow and dragging. The unevenness keeps me from recommending it strongly, although readers who are interested in the philosophical questions of space exploration and the uses of SFF to investigate the same regarding colonialism will like it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    3.5 stars (coming out March 16, 2021!!!) **ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review.** #SkywardInn #NetGalley Pros: Whiteley's stunning prose and turns of phrase, excellent *chef's kiss* body horror, light sci-fi setting, really freaking cool concepts which I can't talk about because ~spoilers~, this is a read that will STICK WITH ME for a long time Cons: unfortunate in media res opening (felt like I needed the book to start 10 years back), not enough "bonding time" with characters through cur 3.5 stars (coming out March 16, 2021!!!) **ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review.** #SkywardInn #NetGalley Pros: Whiteley's stunning prose and turns of phrase, excellent *chef's kiss* body horror, light sci-fi setting, really freaking cool concepts which I can't talk about because ~spoilers~, this is a read that will STICK WITH ME for a long time Cons: unfortunate in media res opening (felt like I needed the book to start 10 years back), not enough "bonding time" with characters through current day actions (so wasn't attached to their fates), frustrating relationships all around, some scenes dragged due to overt philosophizing, an oddly high number of barnyard masturbation scenes (why???) TW: masturbation, murder Video link: Jan WU (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRCG2...)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tanisha

    **ARC provided by netgalley for an honest review** DNF'd this book @26 percent. The book is written very beautifully but I had a hard time getting used to the writing style and I was not liking the characters. It was unfortunately not for me. Although not for me, this book will appeal to a lot of literary sci-fi readers. **ARC provided by netgalley for an honest review** DNF'd this book @26 percent. The book is written very beautifully but I had a hard time getting used to the writing style and I was not liking the characters. It was unfortunately not for me. Although not for me, this book will appeal to a lot of literary sci-fi readers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    2TReads

    This was certainly an interestingly weird and baffling read. Not sure what to rate it though. Even with characters as the propelling force of this narrative there remains a certain obscurity in this novel. The reader is never sure of the motivation for each character and has to piece together a history based on the little that is revealed What is known is the establishment of contact with an alien species, of founding a space outpost on said planet, trading and cataloguing the histories of the Qi This was certainly an interestingly weird and baffling read. Not sure what to rate it though. Even with characters as the propelling force of this narrative there remains a certain obscurity in this novel. The reader is never sure of the motivation for each character and has to piece together a history based on the little that is revealed What is known is the establishment of contact with an alien species, of founding a space outpost on said planet, trading and cataloguing the histories of the Qitan, and what appears to be the fragmentation of the connectivity that once permeated Earth. The reader however is exposed to strained familial relationships: mother/son and sister/brother; the perception that is held of the Qitan, and an undefined and yearning between Jem and Isley, who own and run the Skyward Inn. Memories are related in fragmented, piecemeal prose and even when details are given, there is a lack of emotion and cohesiveness that leaves the reader on the outside of the narrative. Whiteley is able to keep her readers' barely satisfied and it is only at the end that the truth of this exchange is revealed and what a revelation it is.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Megan Leigh

    As always, fabulously weird.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cait Hutsell

    This book is strange in a good way. I’m not sure if I can rate it because I don’t want to read it again but I also really enjoyed it. I have so many questions!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fabienne Schwizer

    I have rarely read a book that is written as beautifully and engrossing as Skyward Inn. It is weird in a good way – although I’m not sure I fully understood everything that went on, and will have to reread it soon. This is the sci-fi-coffee-shop-AU book of my dreams. It is a slice of life found-family narrative that depicts life after war. Skyward Inn is not a grand narrative, it’s a cosy character-driven book. It’s tagline is “This is a place where we can be alone, together.” And really, I coul I have rarely read a book that is written as beautifully and engrossing as Skyward Inn. It is weird in a good way – although I’m not sure I fully understood everything that went on, and will have to reread it soon. This is the sci-fi-coffee-shop-AU book of my dreams. It is a slice of life found-family narrative that depicts life after war. Skyward Inn is not a grand narrative, it’s a cosy character-driven book. It’s tagline is “This is a place where we can be alone, together.” And really, I couldn’t imagine a book that would resonate more with me right now. The characters are odd and cranky, in strange relationships with each other and most of all wonderful and nuanced. They think, they interact, and they live their lives. A book this magical doesn’t need big mysteries, or a fast-paced narrative. It is slow but immersive, drawing the reader into its world, and the tensions between humanity and Qita, the relationships between Jem and Isley and Jem and her son Fosse. Part of me wishes that Skyward Inn were longer so I could have spent more time in its world, but another part knows that it was just right the way it is. If you like philosophising about what happens after an explosive narrative ends, and imagining cosy coffee-shop AU’s, Skyward Inn is the book for you.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Denise Ruttan

    (This review is also on http://dnruttan.com.) Please Note: I received “Skyward Inn” as an advance review copy from Netgalley for an honest review. “Skyward Inn” by Aliya Whiteley has quickly risen to the top of my personal list of my most anticipated books of this year. It releases on March 16, 2021 from Solaris, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic Devon, England, where the Western Protectorate, a Libertarian wet dream in which subsistence-based agriculture is t (This review is also on http://dnruttan.com.) Please Note: I received “Skyward Inn” as an advance review copy from Netgalley for an honest review. “Skyward Inn” by Aliya Whiteley has quickly risen to the top of my personal list of my most anticipated books of this year. It releases on March 16, 2021 from Solaris, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic Devon, England, where the Western Protectorate, a Libertarian wet dream in which subsistence-based agriculture is the primary means of industry and technology is shunned, has set up shop and abandoned the coalition of world powers. In this bucolic countryside of small town togetherness, gossip and community council meetings, human Jem and Qitan Isley run an inn called the Skyward Inn. They rise to a moderate business success based on a mysterious alcoholic beverage that Isley has brought with him from his home world, which they call The Brew. The name of this eponymous drink is not really in all capitals in the book; it just becomes important to the story. Jem and Isley are veterans of interplanetary war, each full of regrets and unrequited longing. Isley is the penultimate outsider, the “alien,” and all the prejudices that come with that identity; but here, Jem is an outsider, too. She left home, abandoned her son Fosse to her brother Dom, and her son now wants nothing to do with her. The point of view alternates between Jem in a first person perspective to that of Fosse, who also has trouble seeing himself as part of this world. Add in all your colorful characters of small town rural life. But this peaceful, beautiful place is not all it seems. Elsewhere in this world, a mysterious disease rages, and it threatens the apparent safety of the Protectorate every day. But the disease is not what it seems. Just as the brew is not what it seems, and so on. Everyone is hiding something. The fragile veneer of utopia, if you’re the correct type of person, will soon splinter. Jem copes by drinking the brew with seemingly magical properties; fighting with her brother, who is a leader in the Protectorate who is something of an ideological purist; and counting her regrets. Fosse copes by escaping to an abandoned farm. One day, he discovers the farm is not abandoned after all – and that is when everything changes. And one day, Isley’s Qitan friend Won comes to visit, and Won has a problem; and everything changes for Jem, and for the town. This is a beautiful, weird, surreal piece of fiction with a deep sense of interiority of character and graceful, gentle prose. It is a story of found family, melancholy, community, and identity. Most of all it is a story of what it means to belong, and what it means to remain apart, and the ties that bind us to the families we wish we had. Jem yearns to belong, to have been a better mother, to have been with Isley, to feel a part of the town, and she mourns the decisions that have kept her alone. But she comes to realize that perhaps her very independence is what will save her. The lush, steady prose, the thoughtful focus on these three characters – Dom, Fosse and Jem – was very well done. I did have some quibbles, though. I like my science fiction to be science-based, although I am willing to suspend belief for good space opera. This however, did not have much science in it. I can’t reveal too much about the mysterious disease without giving spoilers; it did make sense in the end, where the author was going, but the mechanics of the disease were decidedly magical for literary effect, and I found it confusing until the very end as to how it all exactly worked. It all wrapped up in a weird, bizarro, dark, tidy way in the end, though, which I loved in all its weirdness, regardless of my initial hesitation. I would call it a space fantasy more than science fiction. I also wanted more dimension to Isley’s character, and I didn’t really understand the biology of how the Qitans functioned. But when I saw it as fantasy instead, I appreciated it more. I thought I knew where this was going – the small bucolic town and a cult, right? But it was a nice upending of the trope of colonialist Earth invading helpless alien cultures, and that is all I will say about that. Bottom line: This is a weird, wonderful story of a world that is not so unlike our own, a story about finding yourself when the whole world wants to find you first; a story about what it means to be part of something that is bigger than yourself, and the sacrifices that we make for the higher good. I enjoyed this book immensely. Thank you to the publisher for the advance copy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    David Harris

    Skyward Inn is proper mind-bending science fiction. I read a lot of SF which, while thrilling and fun, is basically... domesticated. People in space ships doing things. Apocalypses. Complex tactical books involving politics conspiracies and manoeuvring. Often, all of these at the same time. And they can be really great. But sometimes I miss a sense of deep weirdness, of unknowableness - a sense that Skyward Inn delivers in spades. The book won't be for everyone, but really did it for me. In a nea Skyward Inn is proper mind-bending science fiction. I read a lot of SF which, while thrilling and fun, is basically... domesticated. People in space ships doing things. Apocalypses. Complex tactical books involving politics conspiracies and manoeuvring. Often, all of these at the same time. And they can be really great. But sometimes I miss a sense of deep weirdness, of unknowableness - a sense that Skyward Inn delivers in spades. The book won't be for everyone, but really did it for me. In a near future, suffering (in a background way) from climate change, a gateway (the 'kissing gate') has opened in space, allowing travel to an alien world, Qita - an opportunity eagerly taken up by 'the coalition', a suppurate or alliance of states (it's never clear which - though in this future English has become a little regarded, minority language) with dream of conquest. Part of England, the 'Western Protectorate'; has seceded, either in principled opposition to this or possibly just to preserve a self-sufficient, bucolic way of life. Again, it's never clear. Within the Protectorate, Jem and Isley run the Skyward Inn, serving Qitan 'brew' to the locals. Both are veterans of the war: Jem, a local woman who ran away to space and Isley, a Quitan. Jem is estranged from her son Fosse, who lives nearby with Jem's brother, Dom, a leader in the community. It's a very simple setup, on the surface, but Whitely uses it to explore so much - ideas about family, about the structure of society, what it means to be human and our responsibilities to each other and to the world. I need to be careful what I say here because the book is one of those which achieves its effect slowly and incrementally. Things seem a bit odd from the start, when Fosse, slipping away to an abandoned farm to do what teenage boys do in private, encounters strangers who Arte, well, strange, but do him the great service of paying him attention, something he's not used to. At the same time, another stranger, a visitor from Qita, appears at the Inn, needing help. There are suggestions here of prejudice and even violence: their existence must be kept secret. The arrival does, though, trigger Jem's memories of her time in Qita. They're strange, almost hallucinogenic, episodes involving her travels ostensibly involving nothing more than posting bland propaganda leaflets wherever she goes. We're primed for a significant encounter, or a misstep, perhaps the breaking of some cultural taboo, but what Jem was doing eventually turns out to be both more and less significant the that. Less, because there are no incidents, no misunderstandings, no politics or warfare. More, because, as becomes clear to another, later traveller to Qita, what Jem did was, actually, all-important. In this book, intentions and unintended consequences bounce off one another. As the citizens of the Protectorate struggle to maintain their principled, isolated lifestyle, they're threatened from various directions: shortages of food, materials and medicines, an ominously spreading, mysterious disease which causes some areas to be quarantined, and those strangers that Fosse runs into. At the personal level things are tense between Fosse, Dom and Jem. A lot of family history is being buried as people hold to positions and talk past one another. And that stranger, Won, at the Inn also creates tensions and misunderstandings. Just how strange all this gets, I can't say. I will say that's it's a growing, creeping weirdness. The alienness of the Qitans in this book is both less than we have been primed to accept by the run of SF - they don't excite horror by their appearance - and more, as we are eventually shown. In exploring both aspects Whiteley creates a truly compelling story, one where I simply didn't know what was going to happen (or, indeed, exactly what had happened!) There is some gorgeous writing here, whether capturing the turbulence of adolescence ('He never thought he'd miss going to school, but being kept at home for a few days made Fosse aware that school offered a quiet, resilient shape to his day...'), the frustration of a woman torn between standing by her past decisions or attempting to remake her future or the gentleness and thoroughness of Dom checking a dog for injuries (yes, this book contains dogs!) In short, reading Skyward Inn was a truly unsettling experience, but an immersive, wonder-filled one. It is a remarkable book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Esmée

    I have received this advanced review copy for free. My opinions are my own. Content warnings: (view spoiler)[Willfully submerging in water which can be perceived as drowning/suicide, not-present parent*, on-page masturbation by a minor (explicit), on-page violence (bloody) which ends up in a character death which is mentioned later. *When the child was very young, mom gave responsibility of the child to the uncle and mom went away for a decade. Mom now lives nearby, but is not really a presence in I have received this advanced review copy for free. My opinions are my own. Content warnings: (view spoiler)[Willfully submerging in water which can be perceived as drowning/suicide, not-present parent*, on-page masturbation by a minor (explicit), on-page violence (bloody) which ends up in a character death which is mentioned later. *When the child was very young, mom gave responsibility of the child to the uncle and mom went away for a decade. Mom now lives nearby, but is not really a presence in the child‘s life. Uncle takes care of the child like his own son. (hide spoiler)] This is a tough book to review, as I did not dislike the book and I was actually interested in premise. It was just flawed in some ways that made Skyward Inn a two-star read for me. The plot of Skyward Inn was excecuted in a strange way. The start of the book and the description make you expect a certain type of plot, one where a stranger arrives that is not supposed to be there and an immediate danger or consequence furthers the plot. But the stranger arrived, no danger arrived and the plot started to fall rather flat until the last 75-50 pages. It’s as if the book tried to be mysterious and foreshadowing, but missed the plank, especially as mysterious and foreshadowing doesn’t really work when something at the start of the book already got you on the edge of your seat waiting for the plot to further. It felt a bit too passive after the introduction, but it perhaps could have worked if the tone of the start was different. The ”mysterious and foreshadowing”-style is flawed in another way as it’s a bit too mysterious and vague and too little foreshadowing. Throughout the book there were relatively little hints at what the ”great threat” of the book turned out to be and the hints that were there didn’t get the right emphasis on how important those bits would actually turn out to be, making me personally brush them off. These hints were all just bits and pieces quite disconnected from the flow of the book, which mainly focused on setting the stage for the characters instead of focusing on moving on the plot. I really think that this book could have been better as a 100-150 page novella instead of the 250 page novel it is now. The type of story really suits the storytelling style for those kind of books and the writing style is what I often see in short stories or otherwise short books. But the main reason I think this is that a lot of the book felt like filler, especially when the story did start to roll properly, the contrast between the pacing in those last 50 pages and the rest of the book became apparent. I think that if the leading up to those last 75-50 pages was told in the same or similar pacing, the whole flow of the story would have improved so much. Again, I did not dislike the book, I enjoyed myself, but this pacing flaw didn’t invite me to keep reading for longer periods of time and for the majority of the book it felt like the plot was basically non-existent, which was a shame. I don’t want to be all critical about this book; I don’t think it’s a bad book and I enjoyed the reading to a certain degree. The premise feels like old-school science fiction; the sort that’s just strange and fun and explores these weird scenarios that would only make sense in the context of weird technology and/or aliens. The premise I now know in hindsight was really clever and interesting, and it really grabbed my attention as it really throws you off eventually. And the last 50 pages of this book were really good on their own; the characters taking the front seat in that part had such incredible development and chemistry and I would honestly read a whole book just about those two. I am kinda bummed it was only so short. I am neutral on the recommending part; I would not personally tell someone to read this book, but I wouldn’t tell someone to not to either. I myself was already enjoying the book to some degree and someone who doesn’t care about the flaws I mentioned might end up loving this book a lot. I am going to repeat it once more: this book isn’t bad, it’s flawed.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Beverley

    https://beverleyhasread.wordpress.com/ A small disclaimer before I start. I am not a huge reader of Sci-Fi, and thought that this was going to be more dystopia than Sci-Fiction but, to me it felt the other way round. This wasn’t a problem for me at all, but, Sci-Fi is not a genre a read, so it is possible/very likely indeed that if you’re reading this and you are a Sci-Fi reader I may annoy the life out of you by misunderstanding something or completely missing a reference. It’s also possible tha https://beverleyhasread.wordpress.com/ A small disclaimer before I start. I am not a huge reader of Sci-Fi, and thought that this was going to be more dystopia than Sci-Fiction but, to me it felt the other way round. This wasn’t a problem for me at all, but, Sci-Fi is not a genre a read, so it is possible/very likely indeed that if you’re reading this and you are a Sci-Fi reader I may annoy the life out of you by misunderstanding something or completely missing a reference. It’s also possible that you are sitting there saying, “Beverley, what on earth are you waffling on about, how many times can you say Sci-Fi in one paragraph? Get on with the review!” So I will. With that out of that way, I can talk about Skyward Inn, a peculiar, gorgeous and thought-provoking book set in an imagined future. Earth has been at war with a planet, Qita, a place rich with minerals that are now obsolete from our own planet. We didn’t so much as win the war, as the Qitans rolled over and let us take over, allowing us to mine the resources there and bring them back to Earth. The titular Skyward Inn is a pub in the Western Protectorate, formerly Devon, but now a place which rejects the modern advances sweeping the rest of the country and world. The pub is run by Jem, sister of Dom, who is head of the council and mother of Fosse, a teenage boy who rather than living with his mother, lives with his uncle. Jem runs the pub with Isley, a Qitan who she met whilst she worked on Qita. The pub is the centre of village life with the residents spending their evenings there trading their wares for alcohol and Brew, a Qitan drink which makes the drinker peaceful, relaxed and absorbed in pleasant memories. Written in alternate chapters, with Jem’s first person narrative allowing us into her head, and Fosse’s third person narrative allowing us to see what life is like in the Protectorate. Funnily enough, for the most part, it is similar to the life we have now. Interspersed with Jem and Fosse’s chapters are notes taken from Council meetings which are wonderful slices of wry humour portraying the minutiae and pettiness of life; what should they do with a surplus of apples? Why hasn’t the request box been produced yet (answer, Mr Samuels is too busy), and what should they do about the abandoned farm? Aside from that, there is the dystopia which I love to read about. I love being in a book set in a landscape I know but everything is slightly different. There’s a lot of world building in the book, and the gaps and absences add to the world, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks themselves. It is skilfully written and utterly absorbing, especially with regards to the gradual threat looming on the horizon. This is a short book but it packs a hell of a lot in. The writing is poetic and literary and it touches on themes like, family and otherness in a tender and heartfelt way. There are sections set on the planet Qita which felt like I was almost in a dream, the writing is so beautiful and other-worldly (excuse the pun) that I felt transported there. It’s difficult to say much about the plot without spoilers beyond the above so I won’t, but I found it utterly absorbing and, despite it clearly being fiction, totally believable. It is a remarkable book that, as I say, is outside of my usual genre, but I really loved it. I was impressed it’s themes, it’s plotting, it’s humanity and sensitivity and I found it, at times, exceptionally moving. Recommended.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Doreen

    3/16/2021 What the fuck did I just read?! But in a good way?! 3/19/2021 The most rational part of my brain understands exactly what I've just experienced with this book, but every other part of me, the emotional, the lizard brain, the higher consciousness etc. is absolutely 100% going, "What the fuck did I just read?!" and not in a bad way either. Inspired by Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn, Skyward Inn tells the tale of its owners: Jem, a local girl who ran away as a teenager to serve for a decad 3/16/2021 What the fuck did I just read?! But in a good way?! 3/19/2021 The most rational part of my brain understands exactly what I've just experienced with this book, but every other part of me, the emotional, the lizard brain, the higher consciousness etc. is absolutely 100% going, "What the fuck did I just read?!" and not in a bad way either. Inspired by Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn, Skyward Inn tells the tale of its owners: Jem, a local girl who ran away as a teenager to serve for a decade spreading propaganda for the Earth Coalition as it conquered the planet Qita, and Isley, the Qitan partner she met while she was away. Once her tour of duty was over, Jem persuaded Isley to come home with her to the Western Protectorate, a closed-off area of Earth with throwback values hearkening to a pastoral idyll, located roughly in Devon, England. At the Skyward Inn, Jem and Isley sell the intoxicating Jarrowbrew that allows Jem's tongue, so often weighted when there isn't a script to follow, to finally loosen when it's just her and Isley, and she can tell him stories of her travels on his home planet. Isley is the only alien of his kind around, but the locals have taken to him, despite murmurs of xenophobic violence from surrounding areas. But when another Qitan arrives needing help, the new arrival sets in motion a chain of events that seems small at first but could change everything Jem thinks she knows and loves. Interwoven with Jem's first person narrative is the story told in third person of her son, Fosse, whom she left with her parents and brother in her youthful determination to escape the Protectorate. Fosse is an angry young man of sixteen, and he and Jem barely have any relationship, till the arrival of newcomers prompts him to question his own origins as well as his destiny. This is a book about life and grief and connection and moving on, or perhaps forward, and it is definitely not for the faint of heart. Even as the most rational part of me is thinking, "That absolutely makes sense scientifically", the rest of me is flapping its metaphorical arms about, sputtering, "Do not want!" This is, perhaps, the most uplifting book involving body horror that you'll ever read. But more importantly, it's also a book about what changes us, what exposure does to all parties involved and how, in the end, not even The Cheese can stand alone. With its deeper philosophical and sociological underpinnings, it well deserves the comparisons to Ursula K LeGuin's most thoughtful works. It's also very modern: there's a hilarious "what are those" reference in there for those who appreciate a good meme, as I do. Skyward Inn is weird and wonderful, as only Aliya Whiteley can write. It's a work of terrifying genius, depicting an alien future that seems equal parts desirable and repulsive, founded entirely on very human observations and truths. If you enjoy speculative fiction and can handle a little horror with your sci-fi, then you absolutely must pick up this book. Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley was published March 16 2021 by Solaris Books and is available from all good booksellers, including Bookshop! Want it now? For the Kindle version, click here.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.