ARC Reviews, Mini Reviews

MINI ARC REVIEW: Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley

Skyward Inn Rating**Thank you to Rebellion Publishing for the early review copy  in exchange for an honest review*


Skyward Inn, within the high walls of the Western Protectorate, is a place of safety, where people come together to tell stories of the time before the war with Qita. But safety from what?

Qita surrendered without complaint when Earth invaded; Innkeepers Jem and Isley, veterans from either side, have regrets but few scars. Their peace is disturbed when a visitor known to Isley comes to the Inn asking for help, bringing reminders of an unnerving past and triggering an uncertain future.

Did humanity really win the war?


Now this was both highly baffling and utterly compelling.

Skyward Inn is a speculative science fiction novel set in a future where Earth has peacefully invaded an alien world known as Qita and an interplanetary portal known as the Kissing Gate grants travel and access to its resources.

The story follows an estranged mother and son pairing who live in the Western Protectorate – an area of the United Kingdom that has cut itself of from the rest of the country and the world’s advanced technological way of life – where the people choose to live a more traditional, rural lifestyle. The mother, Jem, a veteran of the war has returned to the Protectorate and runs a safe haven pub with Isley, a Qitan she befriended while on duty. Together they serve an addictive beverage know as Jarrowbrew/Brew to the locals and share memories of the world they left behind. The son, Fosse on the other hand wants nothing more than to escape the Protectorate and the life it has confined him to.

But soon a handful of new faces breach the walls of this independent community, along with unnerving news of a disease both threatening to upend the peace.

“Alone is not a place I can go to, but the place that’s left behind after everyone else has gone.”

This is a book that gets stranger with each page. The overarching plot is slow to reveal itself and the jumble of timelines due to the dual points of view and involvement of memories within the storyline make for a disjointed and confusing read. However, the prose keeps you entranced until the end.

With subtle commentary on the themes of colonialism and xenophobia, Whiteley expertly weaves a narrative that explores human nature, human emotions and human relationships in an evocative way. I didn’t find myself connecting to any of the characters much but both protagonist’s perspectives on identity and belonging really drew me in. For a short book my copy is sprouting so many tabs with how many thought provoking quotes I couldn’t help but note!

“That was one approach to needs and wants, Fosse thought. To make a bigger space to store them all rather than try to diminish the pile. But it seemed that the requests would always grow to fit the space, even if a box the size of a building was fitted on the green, with a slot wide enough for everyone to post their bodies through. Why waste time with slips of paper when everyone wanted everything?”

Not at all like anything I’d usually pick up but it sure was an interesting experience. If you like sci-fi that focuses on people then definitely give this one a read! With how much I loved the writing I’d love to pick up other works by the author in the future.

Skyward Inn is out March 16th in the US and March 18th in the UK!



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