Book Review: Stain by A.G. Howard. null
Stain by A.G. Howard
Author:
Published: January 15th 2019
Page Count: 560
Publisher:
After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest . . . disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight—for she is his true equal. As Lyra finds her way back to her identity, an imposter princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.
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I fell in love with Stain from the moment I started reading it. The fantasy worlds that A.G. Howard has created in this book is incredible, and yes, that’s right; I said world plural. A catastrophic event turned one kingdom into two, pushing one down into the earth where night and the moon permanently reigned, while the other stayed topside where day and the sun reigned. Born into each world are two characters with characteristics from the other world – not through any adultery, but by magic.

Princess Luna, is born into a world filled with everlasting sun, however, she is born with the physical characteristics of someone from the kingdom of night and this means her skin is extremely sensitive to sunlight. It burns at even the slightest touch of it. She is also mute, meaning that she is not able to communicate to the people she will one day rule, something that becomes increasingly vital as Luna’s physical appearance which is so strikingly different from everyone else is used by bigots to alienate her.

In the other kingdom, their prince does not suffer the same difficulties as Luna because he is accepted by his family and his people. However, an accident results in a horrible disease that plagues his body and will result in his death. The only cure is Luna, for prophecy says that she can save him, and together they can save their kingdoms from everlasting day and night to rejoin them again.

The disability representation in Stain is a bit hit-and-miss because everything is tied to magic and prophecy. It falls into the trope of magic as a cure, although without giving a major spoiler away I will say that one disability remains at the end and is not cured. The book itself is wonderful, but the good disability representation moments, such as Luna/Stain struggling with her pain and her identity or the inclusivity of people learning sign language, are completely undone by the bad representation of it all disappearing quite literally by magic. Disabilities and chronic health conditions don’t just disappear in a puff of magic smoke or as soon as a prophecy has been completed, and tropes like this are extremely harmful.

So 5 stars for being a fantastic fantasy book, but for disability representation this gets a 2.5 star from me.

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Throughout September, I am giving away some of the books that I am reviewing for GeekDis!

This giveaway is part of GeekDis, a collaborative event for members of the disability community to talk about disability representation in pop culture. You can learn more about GeekDis and see all the content myself and others have been creating here! To help spread awareness about the need for disability representation in pop culture, I am giving away books that feature disability representation.

I am giving away any book with disability representation that costs no more than £10.99 on The Book Depository at the time of the giveaway. All eligible books will be marked with GIVEAWAY in the title, just like this one, so keep an eye out for them! You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for notifications of new book reviews.

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1 Comment

    Super excited about this giveaway! The book sounds fantastic and your criticism sounds completely fair. Looking forward to the other book reviews for GeekDis! I am working on diversifying my reading so I think these reviews will be perfect at helping me create a wishlist for myself.

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