The Harem of Aman Akbar, by Elizabeth Scarborough

Second paragraph of third chapter:

My mind felt as rumpled as my bed and my face was swollen with tears and sleep. I still felt like applying the nearest blunt object to all within this confusing household but was also aware that in doing so I was no doubt sealing my own doom. What galled me most, I suppose, was that in selling myself into this arrangement, I had inadvertently fallen into domestic problems as painful as those I had sought to avoid by evading my mother’s relatives. The gods do not like to have their plans thwarted, I suppose.

An orientalist fantasy, drawing heavily on the Arabian Nights, but subverting it in that the women characters take charge and have to rescue their husband, Aman Akbar, who has been transformed into a donkey. I don’t think the racial stereotypes would really fly today, but I can see what Scarborough was trying to do and it’s (intentionally) quite funny in places. You can get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired in 2016. Next on that pile is Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard, by Lawrence M. Schoen.

April Books 3) The Godmother’s Apprentice, by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Yet another of the sff books with an Irish setting which I’ve had hanging around the shelves for a while, the second of a three-part YA series about a sassy American girl from Seattle who is in training to become a fairy godmother, and is sent to a mid-1990s Ireland for a learning experience involving legendary figures plucked both from the more respectable sources of lore and from Yeats and placed in the gritty tail end of the twentieth century. Scarborough’s handling of Northern Ireland is not terribly adept and her geography elsewhere but she is clearly trying hard with the Dublin and Wicklow settings, and her attempts at dialect are not too excruciating. Not a particularly challenging book, but not too objectionable either.