I’m a sucker for a Neon Hemlock novella, so when I was offered a review copy of LET THE MOUNTAINS BE MY GRAVE, a queer historical fantasy set in Italy in 1944 as a goddess-blessed partisan fighter seeks vengeance against the Nazis. I loved this book, and it definitely held up to the high quality I expect from these novellas.
Thanks to Neon Hemlock Press for the ARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
About the book:
Let the Mountains Be My Grave is set in 1944 Italy, where Veleno is a partisan fighter intent on avenging his father and killing as many Nazis as he can before leaving this world. He is also beloved of the ancient Italic goddess Angitia, which makes him the perfect person to recover a strange weapon the Nazis are planning to use against the Allies in the battle of Montecassino.
What did I think?
This was a quick and engaging read. The synopsis is intriguingly vague, but between the promise of queer partisan fighters killing Nazis and that cover, I knew I had to read it. Once I started, it was unputdownable and I finished the whole thing in a single, blistering sitting. I loved the inclusion of the gods and goddesses in this book. Veleno is blessed by the goddess Angitia, and her powers flow through him when he calls for her. They also come with visions of snakes that were described in such glorious and vivid colour that I could practically see them myself.
I really liked Veleno as a protagonist. He was torn between his love, who wants him to live and thrive in a post-Nazi world, and his own mind. He wants to avenge his father, and is willing to die for that end as long as he takes out as many Nazis as possible on the way. The way that Veleno described this depression, this apathy for his future, made my heart ache with the raw emotion behind his suffering. I found his love interest, Rame, a little annoying but honestly? Still loved the established romance between them and the way they were finding their feet together still.
I really want to read this as an audiobook because I think that the gorgeous prose will be fantastic in audio, it has a lyrical quality and a beat to it that thrummed through the whole novella. The balance of magic and realism in this book was fantastically done, and I loved that the god-like powers didn’t stop the regular people from striking back against fascism. I didn’t know much about the Italian partisan movement specifically, and this novella has sparked curiosity in me about both the partisan movement and the lesser-known deities that feature in this story.
Release Date: 17th May 2022