Book Review: A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Williams

I am still slogging my way through The Queens of Innis Lear.  I’d DNF it but right now it feels like a battle I need to win.  Hoping to get it done this weekend.  So in the meantime, I haven’t been very motivated to read much else.

I did quickly squeeze in A Taste of Honey for a buddy read though.  This was part of Tor.com’s free novella offerings for Pride Month. Did you know they give away a free book every month?  You can visit that page here, and download a copy of The Murders of Molly Southborne by Tade Thompson for free until June 29th.

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson

Rating:  ★★★

Blurb (from GoodReads): Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.

This is told in three parts.  Part one I enjoyed a lot.  It’s lets the reader see how Aqib and Lucrio first meet and was a great set up for the romance.  It was pretty hard not to ship these two right from the start.  Part two I struggled with.  It’s told in alternating timelines that jump all over the place.  There’s a reason for it, but it doesn’t make it any easier to digest.  Part three is about the same length as part one and gives us the conclusion.

A lot of the time during part two I was frustrated.  I read a quote from another reviewer once (that I can’t find now, so this quote isn’t exact so I can’t credit correctly) that said something along the lines of: “There are two great sins an author can commit when writing a book: failing to meet expectations, or failing to set them.  Of those two, failing to set them is far worse.”  (Seriously, not exact- Google gives me nothing.)  I had been struggling with this in some stories for years, and never had words for it until I read that.

I feel like A Taste of Honey very much fails to set any expectations for the reader.  Throughout the entirety of part two I was just wondering why I was being told this story. I didn’t feel glued to the page or compelled to keep reading.  I can’t explain why without spoilers- but I will say that the plot of this story is not: Aqib and Lucrio must overcome  the prejudices against gay men in their society and amongst Aqib’s family in order to be together and get a HEA.  Is that a pretty straightforward and rather generic romance plot?  Yeah. It is.  But it comes with the suspense built in.  And readers would have read this story based on that alone, because these characters were fantastic, the world building was unique, and their relationship was beautiful.

Instead we’re given something else entirely that feels more like the saga of a man who’s life has big dramatic events, but in which he has no agency to change things.  Therefore there is no suspense.

The world building is super unique and I loved the parts with the animals.  Although magic isn’t really my thing, there do seem to be some vague rules about the system and that too, felt unique.  If you’re the kind of reader who enjoys piecing together the information about the world for themselves, this may be a great choice for you.

I’m not going to spoil anything, so I’m not going to set any expectations for you either, but if you can slog it through the middle to get to the end it does make up for some of the slow going middle parts.  A few of the other buddies that read this enjoyed it much more than I did so if you like, we can all just blame that other book I’m reading for putting me in a bad mood.

A Taste of Honey can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.

Have you read this book?  What did you think of it?

 

19 thoughts on “Book Review: A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Williams

  1. That idea about expectations really makes sense. Also, it sounds like this story didn’t have a clear direction. That alone would probably bore me to tears. Good luck finishing The Queens of Innis Lear, I haven’t read it, but I do know that feeling of “winning the battle” of that book you just can’t get into. Once you pass a certain point you almost have to finish it😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that is exactly how I feel about Queens of IL. It’s like- I’ve already read 430 pages- I am going to finish.

      And the story does have a clear direction, it just doesn’t make sense until the end… so it’s kind of weird.

      Like

  2. Ohh this was such a great review! I think I had seen a booktuber talk about this book once, but then I just forgot about it 😂 I loved how you discussed your reasons for disliking this book! It’s definitely an interesting one. not sure if I’m gonna pick this up because I don’t think it would for me, but this was an excellent review nonetheless :))

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I DNFed this one, and I agree so much about the no expectations thing – I got halfway through and still didn’t know why was I reading that story. I didn’t like anything about it that much either, so I just stopped.
    And good luck with Innis Lear, even I (I liked it) thought it should have been so much shorter/less of a slog in some way

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good luck with Queens of IL. That one’s on my TBR, but I’m going to need to read (re-read?) King Lear first, so it will be a while before I get to it.

    I haven’t read this novella yet, but I have the Tor.com Pride novella offerings downloaded and just need to start them. I love that they offer free novellas. Some of their picks have been outstanding, and it’s a good way to “meet” new authors.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope that you finish the Queens of IL soon, its sounding like a bit of a blegh one so far :/
    “There are two great sins an author can commit when writing a book: failing to meet expectations, or failing to set them. Of those two, failing to set them is far worse.” I love this even if it isn’t word for word! I never thought of it this way, but I do hate it when I feel like I don’t have a reason to read the book because I am not expecting anything to happen!
    Amazing review as always
    -Emma 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really like that quote about expectations of the reader/author. Can apply it to a lot I have read recently.

    Glad to see you’re slogging through with a book that could easily be DNF’d. Since setting myself the task of not DNFing a book again, you wouldn’t believe how hard even the hardest of slogs have been :/

    Liked by 1 person

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