Release date: January 3, 2017
Romance, intrigue, and plenty of action are woven into a rich and suspenseful narrative in this powerful YA fantasy. The mixed-race heroine Myra is a Flickerkin and can flicker (become invisible) at will. She hasn’t cultivated or revealed this ability, since Flickerkin are persecuted as potential criminals and spies. When invisible people become tricksters and then murderers, Myra’s Flickerkin heritage becomes a deadly secret, putting her relationship with the leader’s son—and her own life—in jeopardy. Loyalties shift and difficult choices are made before Myra understands who she wants to be.
Flicker and Mist is a fantasy novel with a racially charged atmosphere that will resonate with today’s audience. In this world, an isolated island of a country is divided into two segregated races – the Plats and the Lefties, with the former dominating over the latter. Adding a fantastical element is the intermixing of a humanoid species called the Flickermen that supposedly mated with the Lefties to produce Flickerkin – people who can change state and visibility at will. Myra is a a biracial person born to a powerful Plat and a Leftie, but she is also a Flickerkin, a fact that puts her in danger as they are persecuted outside the Left Eye (which sounds very much like an internment/slave camp).
Most of the book is devoted to Myra’s internal struggle as being both Plat and Leftie but only being brought up as Plat. She rejects her Flickerkin heritage on multiple occasions because she had been brought up to hide away that part of herself. She has enjoyed a position of privilege, relatively speaking, and I would like to point out that this affects her decisions immensely. Because towards the end when war is nigh, she chooses to stay with the Plats to try for peace, and this can be seen as siding with the oppressor. And a lot of it arises from her desire to stay with her friends. For the part of the racial struggle between the two, I think it wasn’t as simple as just Plat versus Leftie. It is mostly the distrust of the Flickerkin, a sort of witch hunt for them that drives the racial battle onward; but is not the the root cause of it.
The world-building actually feels pretty incomplete and confusing at times, to me. The rising of the Waters are supposed to be like tides, I guess, only very slow? And there are TV and radio, but not really? It was not made clear how exactly the Plats won the battle that lead to the creation of the current society, when the Flickerkin are pretty powerful and the former didn’t have the technical advancement of the current time. The book is interesting, sure, but not exactly novel in its concept. Moreover, the ending is pretty open-ended if this was a standalone, which makes me think it has future books where these issues will hopefully be discussed or clarified.
Received a free galley from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group via Netgalley.