Like Kay, writer Nalo Hopkinson has also produced historical fiction, but her latest book, The New Moon's Arms, is a very enjoyable contemporary fantasy set in the Caribbean. For two years Calamity Lambkin has tended to the needs of her father, and after his death she must decide what to do with herself. She has moved into her father's house and reduced her work hours at the library. Now she finds that she is nearly broke and has almost pushed everyone else away. Never married, she was a teenage mother who raised her child while living with an uncle and aunt. She rarely sees her daughter (or grandson) and even though she sometimes pines for him, her daughter's father is happily settled in a long-term relationship. Calamity, once known as Chastity, is not a simple person: She knows there is more to life than meets the eye and is sharp and funny, but she also reflexively and vigorously espouses popular Caribbean anti-gay sentiments. Still, Calamity has a large heart just waiting for someone to love, and when she comes across a young child with a broken leg washed in from a storm, she does everything she can to help him. She tries to adopt the child and even tries to make up with an old high school enemy when she discovers to her horror that he is the boy's doctor. The child is broad-chested, has a disturbing sleep-breathing pattern, and enough other oddities that the doctor and Calamity wonder if he is actually human. As the boy's leg heals, Calamity finds that other people, especially those who work in, on or by the sea, know something that most people don't about their closest neighbors. In this brisk and satisfying novel, Hopkinson skillfully weaves together myths and legends and reveals their impact on a modern fractured family. Ultimately Calamity has an opportunity to see herself from another point of view and perhaps change for the better.
Gavin J. Grant runs Small Beer Press in Northampton, Massachusetts.