Review: Dalí by E.M. Hamill

Reviewed by Ronelle

Human beings are assholes. Dalí Tamareia should know and doesn’t have enough fucks left to give about changing that.

After losing everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps—the genderfluid changeling spirals into self-destruction. Though their skills are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, Dalí no longer cares. They seek oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife.

But when Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again.

Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism like the one that took their family.

***

I had the pleasure and the privilege of reading an ARC of Dalí and I have to tell you; it’s one of my favorite sci-fi’s of all time. (And this is coming from someone who read nearly all the Star Wars extended universe novels at least once.) If I didn’t have to adult during normal business hours, I’d have read it in one straight shot it was so good. Dark and uncomfortable in places, heart-wrenching at times, and tense, but so, so good.

Warning: This book deals with some really heavy themes, including gender equality issues, sex trafficking, violence, and profound personal loss.

Dalí Tamareia broke my heart and I found myself crying a couple of times, but there was enough humor and action to balance it out. Dalí was a truly likeable, well-developed character with understandable motivations, relatable pain, and admirable fortitude. I rooted for them the whole time and enjoyed watching them kick ass, take names, and negotiate the hell out of whatever situation they ended up in. (If you aren’t familiar with why I’m using ‘they’ to refer to Dalí, I suggest doing a bit of research. It’s good for you and you’ll learn something. Thank me later.) Dalí definitely grew as a person throughout this journey. The secondary characters were fleshed-out just enough to keep them relevant and to provide a sense of whether we should like them or tell them to go kick rocks. There also weren’t so many that it was hard to keep track of who was who and how they fit, which was nice.

The plot was twisty, turny, and fast paced. There was a lot going on and in multiple layers, which kept the story moving nicely without being overwhelming or confusing. Just when I thought I’d put the pieces together, though, something would happen to make me reassess my assumptions. I’ve always enjoyed unpredictable stories so long as they follow their own rules and don’t ask me to suspend my disbelief too much. Dalí did a great job of accomplishing that. And while this wasn’t a romance, there were moments of intimacy and others of pure sex. The act wasn’t graphic, but detailed enough to differentiate whether Dalí was fucking for the release or if it was something softer. And yes, that difference was important when considering Dalí’s current emotional place.

Ok, so now let’s get down to what I’m going to guess will hang up a lot of readers: Dalí being a third-gender changeling. We’ve seen changelings before, but usually they shift from one species to another (think werewolves, fairy babies passing as human, etc.). In this case, there’s a shift between genders. Dalí is a true neutral in their ‘native state’. It’s no longer a subject relegated to the pages of fantasy or sci-fi novels, but a real-world topic worthy of discussion. I know it’s touchy for a lot of people and the pronouns can get uncomfortable, but Ms. Hamill clearly did her research and handled everything with frankness and respect.

Bottom line: Despite the darkness, we’re left with the sense that Dalí will be eventually be okay. There’s certainly unfinished business and I’m eagerly awaiting more of the story, but there’s no real cliff-hanger here. I imagine, however, that most readers will want to know what happens next.

Rating: A+

*E.M. Hamill provided an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Click to purchase: Amazon

Dalí
by E.M. Hamill
Release Date: July 31, 2017
Publisher: Nine Star Press

Comments

  1. I do appreciate an author that deals with tough issues, so I am very intrigued by this one.

    • Ronelle Antoinette says:

      I think her release date got pushed back a week, but when it’s out, you should definitely give it a read!

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