Of Oysters, Pearls, and Magic/ posted in: Reading Of Oysters, Pearls and Magic by Joyce Chng
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Enter the world of Mirra. She is a magic user, but her gift is scorned by the menfolk in her village. Men are allowed to use magic; women are not. So, after a tumultuous event, Mirra decides to leave and heads for the City to continue her own self-journey. This is her tale.
Mirra lives on a planet settled long ago by travelers from Earth. Their planet is volcanic and prone to a lot of seismic activity. Mirra’s village is on the coast. The women work as divers who harvest oysters for the meat and the pearls. The men in Mirra’s village are able to work with magic but that skill isn’t developed by women.
As a small child, Mirra finds that she is able to produce magical circles of light from her hands. She is punished for this. That is men’s work. She stifles her talents until one day the Sea Witch, a reviled female magic user from a nearby village, comes to the village to see her. This enrages the men of the village who throw Mirra into seclusion. The consequences of this action are dire. In the aftermath, Mirra leaves and moves to The City to attend a school the Sea Witch is running to learn about her magic.
Of Oysters, Pearls, and Magic is a novella. It is listed as only 79 pages on my ereader and the ebook contains a few short stories at the end from the POV of other characters. It tells the story of Mirra’s life as she is educated and finds love in The City, only to have to leave her home again because of natural disasters.
The setting of this book is a planet settled mainly by Asians from Earth. I don’t think I’ve read anything with that setting before and now I’ve had two reviews of books in a row like that. Also like yesterday’s book, The Stars Change, this story looks at changing family structures. Here people choose to either be single, paired, or a triad. Mirra becomes part of a triad.
Because of the brief length of the story and the many years that pass during it, there isn’t a lot of development of each story point. This reads a lot like a detailed outline for a longer book.
Food is a major part of this story. I didn’t anticipate that when I started the book. Mirra associates home with the taste of seafood stews and oyster fritters. Sharing food with strangers is customary. There are several recipes for the food in the book shared. Most of seafood based so it won’t be something I’m making but there is a recipe for rice balls that sounds tasty.