Scrap by Ermory Sharplin
On the brutal streets of Hellip, a village in the vast empire of the cruel King Ibis, you either become good at running from the king’s Blackcoats or you die. This is the lesson that twelve-year-old Tucker Scrap, abandoned as an infant among the orphans of Hellip, learned early. Along with her friends Ash and Kally, Tucker spends her time keeping one step ahead of the unjust laws, stealing what she needs to survive, and pondering her own unknown origins—and those of the enchanted bracelet with which she was found.
Now, both Ash and Kally have vanished from the orphanage, perhaps headed for the faraway city where Ibis still rules. When a mysterious girl named Vivian arrives in Hellip with a strange invitation to Tucker, the leader of the orphans decides that this may be her opportunity to find her missing friends. But more than this: it may become an opportunity to recover her hidden inheritance, and to change the fate of an entire kingdom.
The introduction to a fantasy world rich with ancient magic, enigmatic gypsies, palace labyrinths, and deep woods haunted by strange and forbidding creatures, Emory Sharplin’s debut novel tells the story of Tucker Scrap: a bold, memorable heroine at the center of a centuries-old mystery, stepping into her destiny at last.
How can I review a book that is so… average?
By average, I do NOT (necessarily) mean boring. Just… average. It is a book of average quality, with average writing, and characters that came straight off the discount rack. It’s a fun read, all right (with some problems, which I shall describe below) and I found it addictive, but… average. Nothing really special, but nothing dreadful either.
Apart from the sexual politics. My GOD, Ermory Sharplin, MY GOD. We get it, OK, we get it. Prostitution, despite being a sensible choice when you will starve without it, makes you a weak or bad person. Our oh-so-special, discount-mary-sue main character is *speshul snoooowflake* because she doesn’t, and as a result her fending off a rape attempt at the age of 10 or 12 is funny. Fucking HELL, Sharplin. I can’t even start, except to say this:
- Rape attempts, even if fended off, aren’t things that make starving, desperate teenage girls ‘chuckle’.
- Having sex – or even selling sex – doesn’t make you a bad person.
- Neither would being raped.
- And I can’t trust, like or believe in any female character who doesn’t seem to like other women much.
This book should be given to new writers as a crash-course in how NOT to write reactions to sex and rape.
The plot is predictable- I called most of the twists and revelations fairly early on. The magic system is bizarre, confusing and seems to just *work* when the author wants it to. The world-building is pretty good, though, I liked that. Our two main male characters were picked up after they failed an audition for ‘sassy boys’ in a better book. The author has a bad tendency of telling us something then showing us the opposite – we are told Kally is ‘witty’ but her displays of wit aren’t. Pages of flashback and info dump. Paaaaages. But still, I kept reading it and in the last fifty pages I actually felt fear and dread, so well done with that.
Aside from that, it’s not too bad. As I said, pretty average. Worth a shot if the rape stuff won’t bother you, to be avoided if it will.
3out of 5.
Provided free through Netgalley
Pub date may 17