Book Review: Odder Still, by D. N. Bryn
by Bren B. | 06/19/2022
Today is the Queerblr’s stop on the Odder Still book tour! And I am so glad to be here! When the author reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in participating, I knew I was going to be hooked on this book from the moment I read the back of it! And boy-howdy was I right.
I’ve always wanted to get into a book with a steampunk setting but often found it hard to get through the barrier of world building and my limited knowledge of the tropes and setting that correlate with steampunk. Odder Still, by D. N. Bryn, however, did such a wonderful job of easing me a into a fantastical steampunk-lite world without feeling like I was being forced through a tech barrier, and did it with characters who I immediately fell in love with in Rubem and Tavish and Rubem’s neck friend!
Rubem of No-Man’s Land was content keeping to his wine, his pets, and his extensive collection of fishnets.
But since a sentient, fuel-producing parasite bonded to his brainstem, every morally-depraved scientist and hardcore rebel for a hundred miles wants to ruthlessly dissect him. The parasite itself is no better, influencing his emotions and sassing him with his own memories as it slowly takes over his body.
The only person offering Rubem help is Tavish K. Findlay, a dashing and manipulative philanthropist whose mother’s fuel company monopolizes their corrupt underwater city with an iron claw. She desperately wants to tear Rubem apart for the parasite before those who oppose her can do the same. Her son is irresistibly charismatic though, and after a lifetime of being kicked out and disavowed, Rubem is desperate to believe in the friendship Tavish offers.
With revolutionary plots and political schemes tangling his every choice, Rubem must soon decide whether or not to trust Tavish in his fight against the parasite’s growing control.
Odder Still is a M/M fantasy novel with a class-crossing slow burn romance, murderous intrigue, and a parasite-human friendship in an underwater steampunk city.
This book exist in the wider These Treacherous Tides universe, coming chronologically after Once Stolen, but it is the first book in the No-Man’s Lander series and is an easy entry point into the world. Each No-Man’s Lander book has a romantically fulfilling ending and a final HEA, with steamy thoughts and foreplay but no explicit sex. Content warnings include alcohol consumption and animal death.
Odder Still is the first book by Bryn that I have read and I’ve already put their other books on order because I am in love–with this setting, with the way Bryn writes, and the characters and their character development. Odder Still has so many things that I enjoy, it’s hard to pick a favorite. And for those of you who have read some of my other reviews, you know how much of a selkie fan I am. And there is a whole underwater city full of selkies in this book and I am forever in love with everything about it!
My love of this book goes far beyond just my personal obsession with selkies, though. This book normalizes queerness and disabilities by putting it front and center with the main characters (one main character is a trans man who is also blind). One of the first Findlay bodyguards you meet is immediately referred to with they/them/their pronouns and I immediately fell in love with them and wanted to know everything about them. Odder Still does all this while keeping the plot moving in interesting and unexpecting ways! There is so much action and intrigue in this book that it was hard to put down. And it makes it a little hard to write a review about because I don’t want to spoil any of it for you as a reader. (Seriously — you definitely will want to read this book. It has something for everyone in it.)
Not only does Bryn keep the narrative moving in Odder Still by the interwoven tension of the murder mystery, the parasite in Rubem’s neck and growing concerns, the budding relationship between Rubem and the parasite as time progresses, and between Rubem and Tavish–Bryn keeps the story moving with simply how unique the world is. Odder Still is not the first book in These Treacherous Tides universe but the book does such a good job on setting everything up organically without info-dumping on the reader that a new reader would never know they weren’t reading the first book of the series. Bryn also uses the parasite in Rubem’s neck in a very cool way because it communicates to Rubem by recalling memories. This creates not only an interesting mechanic to how the parasite works but also helps the reader understand Rubem’s backstory and character.
If you’re interested in reading a book with the slowest of slow burn romances with a sassy parasite third wheel and want a book that will make you want to tear capitalism apart at its seams, then Odder Still is the book for you. I know I haven’t gone into too much depth here, but I genuinely don’t want to spoil any of the twists and turns or character development that Bryn has woven into this book. It is a book that will truly transport you somewhere and when you come back, you’ll look at things a little differently.
5 out of 5 Rainbows
Recommended Reader: Anyone looking for slow burn mlm romances, or anyone interested in fantasy steampunk world settings, or who want to read about a host and his sassy-enemies-to-friends parasite, or if you at all like Selkies (want selkies–ODDER STILL HAS YOU SO COVERED), or if you’re simply looking for a book that will keep you interested with it’s unpredictability and inclusive world.
You can find more from D. N. Bryn on their Twitter or Website!
Book Provided by Author: The Queerblr was provided a copy of Odder Still for free by the author; this has in no way affected the review and rating of the book that was written by The Queerblr.
See what other authors had to say and check out the book blog tour!
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