I do love stories that take mythology I don’t know as well and expands on it. In this case, the Lipan (Apache) people of what became the southwestern US down into Mexico. The idea of a world inhabited by animal people–those that can shape shift between an animal and a human form–that was once connected to Earth… and now is not.
“And if they don’t?” I muttered. “Pfft. You’re a cottonmouth,” she snickered. “Sleep under a bush.” As if to demonstrate, Momma switched from her false form to her true form. She slithered out of her dress and bared curved, venom-filled teeth in my direction, warning me to skedaddle.
It’s a fascinating world and makes for some wonderful characters. I don’t think I’ve ever otherwise seen a cottonmouth shifter, especially not the equivalent of a teenage one. It’s a lot of fun. And seeing how her and Nina (our human/our world protagonist) eventually interact is just great. Plus Coyotes (something we see more) and a few different birds (that’s a neat twist). Seeing the animal behaviors in their human lives? Very neat.
I also love everything about the worldbuilding. The idea of animal people smugglers that bring Earth stuff to trade… it’s fascinating.
Honestly, yeah, I did. Earth stuff ages fast in our world, eroded by something in the air. I learned that disappointing lesson as a child, after I found a little toy horse jutting from the muddy ground. It was made from a smooth, colorful, decidedly human-concocted material. Plastic. I couldn’t believe my luck. Sometimes, relics fall from the sky. More often, they’re smuggled here by scavengers who travel between worlds. I carried the toy home and tucked it in a basket beside my sleeping bag. It was safe there, I figured, but within a few days all that remained of the toy was a pile of white and pink grains. They resembled sand but softer. Less permanent. A couple days later, even the grains were gone.
Overall, a really fun little story. Really well worth the read.