Review: Cold Hillside


  • Author: Nancy Baker
  • Publisher: ChiZine Publications
  • ISBN: 9781771483100

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Euskalans are a matriarchal society that must pay tribute to the Fey every year at a faire.  Teresine was a Deshiniva slave girl in Jayasita when she escapes by stowing away on the boat of the Euskalan’s ruler’s daughter, Sarit.  She becomes extremely close to the ruling family.  Teresine’s, and her family’s, story unfolds from there.

I can’t really say anything else about the story without giving too much away.  What I can say is that this isn’t an action story or even a quest narrative.  It’s simply the story of Teresine’s life and how her interactions with the Fey cause unforeseen consequences for her family.  The only thing that even makes this a Fantasy story is the inclusion of the Fey, though it is a different world with many vaguely Asian elements.  If anything, I found the combination interesting.  However, the story itself was a bit predictable, the main issue was too easily resolved in a very uncontroversial way despite the issue’s extreme controversy in reality, and the pacing was slow.  Also, I got the impression that the matriarchal society was “superior”.  Even though the Euskalans did seem to have a better life, especially compared to the life that Teresine lived while she was in Jayasita, the only power that the men seem to have is that they are able to choose their partners.  They don’t have any power within the government, and though the women’s choice of whether or not to have a family is an admirable aspect, I don’t agree that any form of society where the genders aren’t completely equal is superior.  The Euskalan society is just a reversal of gender roles with the added benefit of a lack of double standards in regards to sex and relationships.  It was believable, but not Feminist.

Because of this book’s emphasis on the women’s story, a female-centric part of a much larger world, and a plot that reads like a Lifetime movie, along with the fact that men don’t have much of a voice, I can only recommend it to those who prefer that type of story and/or brand of “Feminism”.

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