Title: Merry Arlan: Breaking The Curse (Guardian Cadet Series #1)
Author: Will Soulsby-McCreath
Publisher: Nopoodles Everything Books
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Merry Arlan: Breaking The Curse is part one of the Guardian Cadet Series, an exciting fantasy with action adventure, heapings of magic, and a delightful slow burn, heart-warming romance.
Merry wants to be a Guardian, there’s just a few things standing in her way: her gender, her secret heritage, her penchant for questioning authority.
Her repeated petitions turned arguments with the Guardian Commander have got Merry exactly nowhere and, as her second year of study at the Five Towers University nears its end, Merry is starting to worry she won’t have a job after Graduation. Or at least not one beyond her current gig as a bartender.
When a Guardian Colonel comes to Merry for help, the logical thing to do is agree, after all Colonel is only one step down from Commander. But when that help includes searching the places that will put Merry’s security most at risk she has to turn down the opportunity of a lifetime.
Until the Colonel sweetens the deal.
Why This Book
Merry Arlan: Breaking The Curse features an inclusive and highly accepting world, though, like any other world, it can always do better. Set in a city populated by various races with various sexual orientations, this novel made me fall in love with it not just because I’ve enjoyed the author’s writings for years, but also because I could cry with how open and accepting this society is. It’s also the book that inspired this year’s Diversity and Inclusivity Challenge.
The main character here is Merry. She has an achingly sweet and awkward romance with a Guardian Colonel all while working hard to prove she can be female and do what all the all-male Guardians do. She ends up getting a shot by trying to help her male roommate’s boyfriend’s aunt break a curse, which was quite a fun story as it brought her past into her present.
But I specifically chose Merry Arlan: Breaking The Curse for two secondary characters: Merry’s male roommate and his boyfriend and Merry’s non-binary friend. Her roommate was quite a fun character and his relationship with his boyfriend was quite sweet and really full of some strong, lovely emotions. Her friend uses the xyr/xem pronouns, and was just all around a fantastic character, though I wished to see more of xem.
My review: “Of course, it’s not perfect and there are other more mundane tensions, especially after Merry is accepted into Guardian training, but sexuality and gender are handled so perfectly with such acceptance that my heart actually ached for this kind of world to be real.”
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