Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley
Title: Skyward Inn
Author: Aliya Whiteley
Publisher: Rebellion, Solaris
Published Date: March 16th 2021
Length: 300 pages
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Adult Fiction, Speculative Fiction
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?
A thoughtful, literary novel about conflict, identity and community; a fresh new perspective in speculative fiction from critically-acclaimed writer Aliya Whiteley. Jamaica Inn by way of Jeff Vandermeer, Ursula Le Guin, Angela Carter and Michel Faber, Skyward Inn is a beautiful story of belonging, identity and regret.
Is it weird that I didn’t know that this book was a weird but sci-fi retelling of Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier? Probably not, considering the fact that I haven’t read that book. Oh, well. It’s the kind of after the fact information that sometimes bothers me. This time, it didn’t.
Skyward Inn is a place where people come to contemplate about the times and their lives, it’s a place where people come to after a day of hard work on the farm and to taste the local brew. On the surface, everything is so astonishingly normal that it’s a bit unnerving, especially considering the fact that this is all happening on a different world. A world where there’s spaceports but people in this story have decided to have nothing to do with it. The history of this planet and Earth is not pretty and everybody seems to be ignoring that in favour of living a simple life. Even though one of the people at the inn is Isley, who is Qitan and does his cooking and brewing on his own. The local humans accept him though, because he’s like them, he’s just like them. He cooks well and brews well, there’s peace in their village why would they alienate him? Jem, the other owner of the inn, is a veteran of the war that brought ‘peace’. The planet Qita and its history with humans is not a pretty one but there’s nothing they can do about it but live apart from the coalition and the Western Protectorate.
Of course, nothing stays peaceful for long. A stranger comes to the village and to the Inn with a plea for help that shakes the peaceful facade that the villagers have built around themselves. There is the reminder of the not-so-peaceful past and uncertain future. I think the thing I enjoyed the most in this novel was the slight feeling of something being off the whole time I was reading it. The pace of the writing and the overall image it creates is a sleepy and almost languid one and I loved that. I truly didn’t realise that the pace was not gonna be a thing in this book and perhaps that disappointed me a bit but overall, the writing really won me over. This is not a book you go in for action and fast pace, it’s far more character focused and imaginative in a slightly eerie way.
Overall, I really loved the writing style and the characters’ interactions and would love to read more by this author. I still can’t let go of the slightly off, unsettling tone of the whole book, I wonder if that’s the case with all of Aliya Whiteley’s writing.