Review of AITA? A modern fairy tale by Cassie Alexander
I have to admit that this wasn’t at all what I expected. I know that other reviewers said the same thing but I’m still surprised by the way this book is marketed which undersells it and does no justice to the story. The cover, the title, but especially the blurb suggest a levity that this book only partially has, which is an absolute pity.
In a world where demons live peacefully along with humans, Becky drunkenly agrees to have a threesome with her fiancé and a demon a few days before their wedding. This triggers a series of events in which Becky will reflect on her life choices, her relationship with alcohol and her love life.
I was looking for a special read to finish 2021 on a high and following the recommendation of my friend Jude, I picked up this one. I’m happy to say that this book was exactly what I needed and absolutely not what I expected based on my own assumptions beforehand. Starting with the title AITA (Am I the asshole), the acronym used to share problems in social media where someone is unsure whether they behaved in a selfish way. It’s true that there is a part of this story that is silly, light and funny in a rom-com style. It’s also correct that the blurb suggests erotic and playful aspects that the plot reflects. But this novel is so much more in terms of character development and growth.
Becky is a complex character who starts a soul-searching journey in which she has to confront her own demons (sorry for the bad pun) about her alcoholism, her sense of inadequacy and her feelings of worthiness of love. Quenalith, the sexy demon, is her opposite in many ways, experienced, self-assured, but she’s also in the path of redemption, of recovering after trauma and trying to find true love again. Opposites attract in a love that doesn’t recognise gender or even species barriers, just the momentous call of a soul mate.
Another startling part of this novel is Becky’s work experience in the art world. This opened up to her reflections about the meaning of art which are deep and surprising for the general tone of the book. Becky’s definition of art really resonated with me and it’s definitely the best one I came across reading lesbian fiction. It’s not intellectual but it’s passionate and, in the context of the story, heartfelt. I won’t share the quote because it has to be read along with the rest to be appreciated.
There are a couple of elements that are more or less expected from the description of this book, one is that there is a component of infidelity that can be a trigger to some people. If you are one of those readers, be warned. The other is the level of heat in the sex scenes, sizzling and explicit. There’s a bit of paranormal component to the sex in this universe which was really exciting. Having said that, world-building is on the light side and the paranormal aspects are mostly an afterthought. Fine with me as the romance is in the driving seat. The most important thing is that all these different aspects of the book, the rom-com, the eroticism, the soul-searching, the romance, the light and funny, are all interconnected and well balanced. There’s even a place for a heartfelt afterword by the author in which she talks about her coming out experience as a bisexual woman.
Overall, a great way to finish the year. 5 stars.