Author: M. Craig
Publisher: Papercut Press
Date Published: September 10, 2011
So says Sim, the book's punkish yet sweet protagonist. Working as a servant to the infamous (shady) Lord Nogron's daughter, Sim finds herself in a confusing and sticky situation, one which means she must flee and start her life alone, elsewhere.
Through a stroke of luck, Sim stumbles into a friendship with charming young quester Cader, who just so happens to have an opening for a roommate. Cader introduces Sim to his gorgeous home (Kailash), his intricate roommates (Prudence and Kai), and the Bikeway Narrows. Cader also finds Sim a day job, working for the eccentric Azzer, a gadget repairman who specializes in magical devices and helps Sim begin to hone her latent magic-weaving talents.
Others have described Sim's favorite neighborhood, the Bikeway Narrows, as a literally-magical Portland. The neighborhood felt a lot like my own: San Francisco's Mission District. (I think this was some clever writing on Maggie's part; she relies on the universality of bike-filled, coffee-shop-loving hip, youthful urban areas to paint a scene that is immediately accessible.)
|M. Craig at a launch party for The Narrows. [[via]]|
Truly on her own, Sim now has an opportunity to grow in an understanding of her own identity. A new friend, known simply as Wood, brings Sim's sexuality to the forefront of her mind and she begins to explore who she is, what she wants, in the context of a world (sadly not unlike our own) in which homosexuality can bear the heavy consequences of discrimination and hate crimes.
This quote is so at the heart of what The Narrows ultimately does: consider big-picture morality and justice through the lens of an equally tough and vulnerable young woman. Sim's journey is hugely adventurous and always surprising.
There are a plethora of plot elements, fantasy world-modifications, and genres in play, which can sometimes become overwhelming for the reader to track or comprehend. The trick I discovered was to let The Narrows wash over me, carry me along at its own pace, without feeling some sort of academic stress to figure out all of the linkages. The novel ends in a manner that hints at future installments, so perhaps Craig has plans to wrap up any loose ends in book number two?
Maggie has generously agreed to do an interview with me, so stay tuned for future discussions with the author herself! In the meantime, you can read more about (and order your own copy of) The Narrows here, and be sure to check out the website for Papercut Press in Brooklyn.