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An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

In An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon explores race, class, and gender on a spaceship that left earth over 300 years ago in route to “The Promised Land.” The upper deckers of HSS Matilda are wealthy light-skinned people while the low deckers are darker-skinned people forced into servitude.

Aster Grey is a low decker on Matilda. She searches for an escape off the ship when she finds a link between her mother’s suicide and the death of Matilda’s leader, the Sovereign. Aster’s knowledge of science helps her follow the clues left by her mother as she uncovers the mysteries of Matilda.

Aster’s journey to freedom faces many challenges that test her willpower and determination. Others on the ship often refer to Aster as an ogre and are dissuaded by her physical and mental differences. Immune to their taunts, Aster keeps her focus on the personal mission at hand.

An Unkindness of Ghosts is a remarkable science fiction novel that incorporates the nuances of intersectional pressures experienced by darker-skinned people. Rivers Solomon creates a unique dystopia within An Unkindness of Ghosts. The characters’ struggles take readers on a long journey of passion, violence, and freedom.

Beyond racism, Rivers Solomon writes about the exploration of sexual identity and mental illness within the lives of various characters. By this exploration, An Unkindness of Ghosts stands apart from typical slave narratives. Rivers Solomon freely examines the mental and emotional weight held by each character in the novel--allowing readers to connect with them on a deep level.

The process of how each character explores their identity is revolutionary for a science fiction novel. In her writing, Rivers Solomon holds space for the many complexities of slavery and creates a plot like no other of its kind.


Sci-fi; slavery, fantasy; fiction; LGBT; dystopia; racism; prejudice; gender; ancestors

Memorable Quotes:

“Pretty was a strange thing to concern oneself over. Pretty was subjective and fallacious.”

“I am a boy and a girl and a witch all wrapped into one very strange, flimsy, indecisive body. Do you think my body couldn't decide what it wanted to be?”

“People do not know what to make of me, and this pleases me. I don't want to be scrutable.”

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