Trinity Lutheran Cda

Historic Lutheran Church in downtown
Coeur d'Alene Idaho

The Avalon Writer by Sarah Zink

In the vast galaxy of star systems that make up the Confederation, there are many worlds far away from First Earth. Out here, the government agencies are corrupt and crime bosses rule. A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries crewing the spaceship Avalon fumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fast-paced sci-fi adventure.

Bran is a girl who longs for a place that doesn’t exist, and who finds herself living in a place where reality can be altered with the touch of her hand. The inciting moment that finally compels her to leave her dire living situation is a scene of sexual harassment during which bikers corner her on the farm and try to pull up her shirt. She yells and flails, and is rightly distraught. She decides to run to her friend Peter’s UCLA dorm, where he kindly takes her in.

When she’s accepted into Avalon, she is expected to sacrifice her previous life, including any connections to the outside world, in exchange for a cozy communal existence devoted to art and beauty. She also makes the condition that she must continue to rely on the powers of magic and music to perform her job as a “warrior.”

Zink has honed a prose style that’s assertive, even breezy in the face of ostensibly sad subjects, but in Avalon she loosens up, allowing a tenderness to permeate the narrative without losing sight of her trademark wry narrative voice. This story is also much more compact than her previous efforts, which sometimes dragged on in excess of their allotted page count.

The Avalon Writer is a well-crafted tale of self-discovery and survival in a world that’s not quite what it seems. It’s a smart, entertaining read that’s perfect for fans of the decadent darkness that Tara Isabella Burton evoked in her debut Social Creature, and that Zo Heller explores in her similarly themed novel, Here in Avalon.

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