Book Review: Skyward Inn – Aliya Whiteley

Book Review: Skyward Inn – Aliya Whiteley


Release Date: March 16th 2021
Publisher: Solaris
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

This is a place where we can be alone, together.

Skyward Inn, on the moorlands of the Western Protectorate, is removed from modern technology and politics. Theirs is a quiet life – The Protectorate has stood apart from the coalition of world powers that has formed. Instead the inhabitants choose to live simply, many of them farming by day and drinking the local brew at night.

The co-owners of the inn are Jem and Isley. Jem, a veteran of the coalitions’ war on the perfect, peaceful planet of Qita, has a smile for everyone in the bar. Her partner Isley does his cooking in the kitchen and his brewing in the cellar. He’s Qitan, but it’s all right – the locals treat him like one of their own. They think they understand him, but it’s only Jem who knows his homeland well enough to recreate it in the stories she tells him at dawn.

Skyward Inn is Jamaica Inn by way of Ursula Le Guin, bringing the influences, too, of Angela Carter, Michel Faber and Jeff Vandermeer to create a fantastic story of love, belonging, and togetherness. Asking questions of ideas of the individual and the collective, of ownership and historical possession, and of the experience of being human, it is at once timeless and thoroughly of its time.

Review

Skyward Inn is the strange and beautiful story of Jem and Isley – the co-owners of an inn in the moorlands of the Western Protectorate. Their life is a quiet one, away from the modern advancements in technology and politics. We are similarly introduced to Fosse – Jem’s son who lives with his Uncle. All three characters are trying to find acceptance in this world and survive a world of aliens and travel between planets.

Skyward Inn is quite a quiet story. It has some absolutely stunning prose and it pulls you in with its beautiful words and the intricate world building. It’s not an overly big book and I found myself becoming completely lost in the story – I pretty much read the book in one sitting on a Sunday afternoon.

Whiteley has created some incredibly fascinating characters all of whom are searching for something. The story focuses on acceptance, community and the idea of belonging. It’s a cleverly executed tale and one that has definitely made me keen to read more from Aliya Whiteley. The relationships in this story were really interesting – particularly the strained relationship between Jem and her son Fosse.

Skyward Inn is a moving and thought provoking tale, completely unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s a clever story and one I can’t recommend highly enough.