Review of cli-fi fantasy Like A Lily Among the Thorns by Karen S. Bell
There are those who are born into loving families and then there are the less fortunate who must forge their own families through strong friendships. At a local small library in New York City, one such family was born. And just like so many capricious happenstances in life, this family unit embraced newcomers and grew exponentially. But this clan was also charged with far more than spreading love and joy and a sense of belonging. This clan was formed by divine Providence to help save the planet.
Gabrielle Bernstein, the MC of Like a Lily Among the Thorns, is a woman in her twenties and has started her career as a librarian at a NYC public library. Abandoned by her father as a young girl and now orphaned by her deranged mother, Gabby longs for a family connection. Coincidentally, she finds this connection at the same time she inherits a B&B in Vermont from her estranged and now deceased father. This enchanted inn is under the watchful eye of goddesses of myth and legend who have been tasked to save mankind from destroying itself and this planet. These goddesses will use their powers to try and stall the onslaught of the effects of droughts, floods, and rising temperatures. But as a safety net they have collected human saviors all over the planet to erect safe havens at high altitudes away from flood waters and blistering temperatures.
This one group of saviors are ordinary people who have some extraordinary abilities and enjoy a higher consciousness. They are brought together to join forces in Vermont to create one such refuge. Along the way there is romance, misunderstandings, conflict, and internal growth. Locations are Manhattan, London, Brooklyn, and Rutland, Vermont. Woven through this tale is Gabrielle’s inherent understanding that she must be grateful, mindful, and present in this journey called “life.”
The impending devastation that will be brought about by the effects of global climate change is the underpinning of this Cli-Fi/speculative fiction novel. Like a Lily Among the Thorns focuses on how this potential disaster will have dire consequences for us all and is currently becoming more top of mind as people are waking up to strange weather events such as the scorching temperatures that have gripped the Northwestern states and torrential rains in the Northeast.
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Excerpt from Like A Lily Among the Thorns
On this ordinary day, we find Gabby Bernstein going about her daily ordinary chores. A lass of modest means, she hummed as she tidied up her small studio apartment. Although bereft of material accoutrements typical of a twenty-something New Yorker, she didn’t dwell on it. Rather, she chose to focus on being grateful for all the kindnesses bestowed upon her by the universe and the miracle of life with the richness and diversity of the flora and fauna that blessed this planet. She was so attuned to the preciousness and beauty of all living creatures that she never was inclined to harm even the smallest insect preferring to capture it and send it out her window to climb down the fire escape or fly away. But most especially, she was grateful for her life, which she never took for granted. In fact, at this very moment, she paused to acknowledge her joy of just being alive and to mark her calendar with the #gratitude entry, giving thanks for each and every day she had her wits and her health.
As she went about her light chores, an unexpected random play on her music app added a spark to her usual sense of wonder and bliss. A coincidental gift from the cosmos of a cherished performance of Luciano Pavarotti singing the aria Addio, fiorito asil from Madama Butterfly, a captivatingly wistful melody that was one of her personal favorites. She gleefully acknowledged this gift and said a silent “thank you.”
My Review of Like A Lily Among the Thorns
This was an interesting read. The points made about climate change and the little changes that seem insignificant but are really big (like rising temperatures overall) came across and offered a unique angle. There were a few neat twists in here, as well.
Overall, I didn’t get as into this as I hoped I would. This came marketed as climate fiction, which it is, but even so, there were many parts that just felt like a textbook of all the problems climate change causes. I definitely believe climate change is real and that steps need to be taken, but I could easily see where someone who doubts would get turned off from this book and, thus, miss all the important points about taking action. The amount of information about climate change sometimes overwhelmed the story, so this wound up reading to me more like climate news with some fiction on the side. As a result, my reading experience felt fractured.
There were a lot of characters, but many of them didn’t feel fleshed out enough to stand on their own. There are goddesses who are often grouped together and seem to act/react as a unit, so I couldn’t always tell them apart. The writing felt very complex at points. Sometimes this worked well and flowed in an interesting way, but other times, it felt like there were just way more words than were necessary to describe something (such as a group of people having a collective audible reaction of distress, when they could have just gasped). I got a bit bogged down in the writing sometimes.
Overall, this is an interesting concept, and I wish I’d been able to get more absorbed in the story. Recommend to cli-fi fans, as well as those who like light fantasy.
About Karen S. Bell
All my work is inspired by social issues to which we all can relate. Work/ life stresses, the loss of a spouse and how marriage can sometimes swallow a woman’s identity, and the prevalence of greed in modern society.
Walking with Elephants is my first novel, although I am not new to writing. I was a theater critic and celebrity interviewer for a weekly tabloid in Jacksonville, Fl and I earned a Master’s in Mass Communication from Oklahoma State University. For 15 years I worked in Corporate America as a technical editor/editor/writer. I experienced first hand the politics and intrigue that goes with that territory and the balancing act that comes with being a working mother. I salute all those mothers who are the glue that holds their families together while pursuing the nine to five brass ring and were the inspiration for this work. Audible book is available and narrated by me.
With my second novel, Sunspots, I continue to be in awe of the magical and wondrous phenomenon called life. As an observer and obvious participant in feminine values and approach to our human challenges, I bring this perspective to my work. Fascinated by the mysteries of the unseen forces that perhaps play a role in guiding our choices, I search for answers in the mundane as well as in the cosmic forces that surround us.
Alexa’s pact with the Devil in When a Stranger Comes…is an allegory for the evil lurking in our midst. The social decay of modern society with its excessive greed, the ignorance of our political leaders, and our indifference toward the survival of all species from the effects of climate change, among other environmental pressures, are perhaps brought forth by the darkest forces of human nature. The audible book narrated by me is in production.
The genre of magical realism appeals to me and all my work has elements woven in. My current project is focused on a Bed and Breakfast that becomes a safe haven from the effects of climate change while celebrating the Feminine Divine and is set squarely in that realm.
I am working on my next novel in Ponte Vedra, Fl. where I live with my husband and our two furry kids. Our human kids have flown the nest and are scattered far and wide, alas.
Karen S. Bell will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.