📖 Review: I Have Asked to be Where No Storms Come – Gwendolyn N. Nix

Pages: 406
Time to read: 2h39m
Pages/hour: 153

Date read: Mon 5 Sep – Wed 7 Sep 2022

Rating: 💀💀💀💀💀

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What a relief it must be, to hand off your sins to another and know they still existed, but they weren’t your responsibility any longer. What peace.

Enter: Hell

Domino is in hell. He died, and that’s where he’s ended up, and with his witch blood, he’s got to be even more careful than the rest of the dark souls who’ve landed there.

Except, there’s something after him, willing to drag him away kicking and screaming, and take us on the journey through the dark tragedy of his life, the enduring love he and his brother have for one another, and to the truth of what it means to be a selfish, selfless witch.

Baked in his bones: protect his brother. That bedrock would not be shaken. Especially now.

Like reading a dream…

It’s very rare that I notice the writing of a book. That’s not to say I don’t notice something that’s well-written. I just think, if it has been done well, I shouldn’t really be noticing it at all, especially once I’ve got past the first few pages and got used to the voice the author is using.

There are a few exceptions to this, where the writing is noticeable because of how lovely the turns of phrase are, or of how it carries you along (or doesn’t), and I think I Have Asked to be Where No Storms Come falls firmly into this category.

It’s beautifully written, incredibly evocative, and that makes it heartbreaking and chilling in equal measure. It’s dirt-under-your-fingernails, dust-at-the-back-of-your-throat kind of writing, and this works for a story that meanders, where the edges are kind of fuzzy.

I don’t think it’s wrong to say that there are parts of the story that are confusing. I don’t really understand entirely how the magic Domino and Wicasah and the others have works. I don’t know 100% where they are, or when. But I think that’s the point. It’s like existing in the confusing spectacle of these brothers’ minds, and it could be that there was no real magic at all, but I don’t think that’s true, either.

What’s real are Domino and Wicasah and the lengths they’ll go to for each other. What happens is inevitable but earned, the shucking of traditions neither of them really bought into. This book felt like a long, sometimes horrifying, sometimes gorgeous journey, and the imagery and character work really is fantastic.

“You just give and give,” All-Worlds said, “and not recognize that it’s thievery. You’ve given him everything and you’ll get nothing in return. I tried to stay out of it and it still did nothing!”

The selfishness of selflessness

Spoilers ahead!

There are a lot of threads that make up this book, but All-Words says it – witches are selfish, that’s the problem. And between that and the writing, it had me thinking of Terry Pratchett, who also wrote such lovely prose that it was noticeable and enjoyable; and most of all, of this quote from The Wee Free Men:

All witches are selfish, the Queen had said. But Tiffany’s Third Thoughts said: Then turn selfishness into a weapon! Make other lives and dreams and hopes yours! Protect them! Save them! Bring them into the sheepfold! Walk the gale for them! Keep away the wolf! My dreams! My brother! My family! My land! My world! How dare you try to take these things, because they are mine!

I have a duty!

Domino has a duty. Wicasah has a duty. They want to protect each other to the point they’ll die for each other, then drag each other back to do the same thing over and over again. It’s selfish, how much they need one another, but they’re willing to be utterly selfless for the other person.

And, of course, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s no other way for it to end.

It’s a theme that colours the book. Why did Christobel die? Was it truly because she was sad about her sister? Was it, like Wicasah thought, because she selfishly wanted to protect herself? Or was it perhaps a selfless need to protect Domino, a man she clearly loved?

There’s the selfishness, too, of the souls pouring into Helia, who’ve sucked it dry, leaving Wicasah to clean up the mess. The truth that Helia isn’t hell, not really; but maybe Match already lived it here on earth, just like the boys have, just like the rest of the witches, and All-Worlds, too.

Everything is cyclical, with the hope being that Domino and Wicasah have broken the cycle and that Naomi won’t have to be a selfish, hopeless witch.

(Also holy shit, that description of Domino’s death has broken me; it’s disgusting and incredible.)

Oh, and the ending made me tear up a little, too, so.

Life might not be fair, but death should be as fair as they come. It should mean something.

What’s the verdict?

Five spooky skulls for this one: 💀💀💀💀💀

This is a gorgeous dark fantasy/horror combination and although I read it recently, I don’t think I’m going to stop thinking about it for a while yet. It feels almost Dark Tower adjacent, only perhaps less relentlessly grim. Give yourself time to mull it over, and enjoy the ride!

Fancy giving it a read?

Goodreads link
Amazon (UK) link
Amazon (US) link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.