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WesternSFA
Tatoo
by Kirsten Iman Kasai
Del Rey, $15.00, 363pp
Release Date: July 26, 2011

Tatoo is an extraordinary venture into mythic storytelling, with echoes of origin myths tracing patterns of ice and fire against a dark urban narrative with themes of destiny, of choice and defiance, the strength of love, the destructive powers of rage and jealousy that poison generations, and the lure of sex transmuted into an addictive ink wielded by tricksters.

Kasai is a very alchemical writer. She transmutes the fantasies and nightmares that flit around us, the ones we partly imagine or half remember, into unforgettable, visceral experiences. And for readers whose lives have had their share of all too real horror, this story provides, if not antidote, then anodyne.

Humans come in many forms, hybridized with animals like dog or wolf or hedgehog. Sidra, Queen of the Erun Forest , is the guardian of the hybrids, called somatics. The rarest type of human, however, is a Trader, a syzygistic shapechanger that can shift between male and female versions of the same genome. The Trader Soryk is Sidra’s lover and the father of Sidra’s unborn child; as Sorykah, she is the mother of twins and Sidra’s ally. But Sorykah becomes the lover/plaything of Sidra’s nemesis, Chen Morigi. Chen has finagled control of Tirai Industries, which, among other interests and secrets, profits from all manner of pleasures and addictions, the most potent of which is the ink that enslaves to sensuality the ones it marks. In The House of Pleasure, Chen seduces, corrupts, and manipulates everyone who enters his sphere of influence.

Sidra knows that childbirth will probably kill her, but she is resolved to destroy Tirai Industries before her own death.

Kasai ’s books garner high praise. Read for yourself and find out why. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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