Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (4/18/23) – The Spear Cuts Through Water

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I was in a fantasy mood recently, so I decided to pick up The Spear Cuts Through Water after hearing some rave reviews from other bloggers. The gorgeous cover only added to the sell. But in the end, this novel ended up being a major disappointment—a murky, 500+ page slog that was only enjoyable for fleeting moments. I really need to stop setting myself up for disappointment with all these overly long high fantasy books…

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Spear Cuts Through Water – Simon Jimenez

The Emperor of the Moon Throne has terrorized the land of the Strangled Throat for centuries, aided by his three reckless sons, aptly dubbed The Terrors. But like everything else that he has seized, the Emperor’s power comes from an age-old moon god who has been locked under the palace against her will. But a god is not meant to be kept in captivity.

So she escapes. Aided by Jun, a disgraced palace guard, and Keema, a warrior from a distant, mysterious land, she sets off on a journey to find her freedom. But the Moon Throne will not let go of her so easily…

TW/CW: ableism, cannibalism, child abuse, murder, body horror, substance abuse, mentions of sexual assault (off-page), torture, loss of loved ones

This is one of those instances where I feel like I’ve read a completely different book than all of the 5-star reviewers. I really wanted to like it—and there were a few things that I did like—but ultimately, it felt like a 20-minute prog-rock song in book form: well-written, but so unneccesarily convoluted and full of itself that it became insufferable.

Before I go on my tirade, I will acknowledge that there were some wonderful, very bold and skilled parts of this novel. Jimenez’s writing had moments of being both beautiful and insightful—there were a few anchors to pull me through the slog, and his prose had moments of being incredible. 2nd person is always a bold choice, but unlike other aspects of this novel, it was executed very well, succeeding at being both immersive and fresh without feeling like it was bold just for the sake of being so.

“Bold” is generally I word that I could ascribe to most of this book. A lot of it was written in a fresh, nontraditional way, and I appreciated its execution in some sections. But a lot of it just felt like showing off—having unconventional chapter breaks and an infuriating structure just for Jimenez to show that he was capable of doing so. Most of these ended up being to the novel’s detriment. The random “chapter” breaks (there really weren’t any chapters in this book?), which mostly just ended up being sized-up font that was, essentially, what should have just the first sentence of the paragraph. And since they were all just first sentences of the paragraph, there were 2-3 of these breaks per page. POVs got switched without warning and without explanation, making the reading experience overcomplicated where it could’ve been an easy fix. It just felt like it was biting itself in the foot in the name of art—it could have been a beautiful story, if it wasn’t so intent on showing off how “different” it was.

As a result, so much of this novel got lost. Even though I was fairly lost trying to discern whose POV is it this time, I did notice one thing while reading The Spear Cuts Through Water—where’d the worldbuilding go? Other than the vague notion of a fantasy world (gods and goddesses, some talking animals/spirits, etc.), I had no idea of the layout of the world, the regions of the world, any kind of cultural cues or conventions, any kind of magic system…it just wasn’t there. At all. The same goes for the characters—they were all but cardboard, moved around like pawns for seemingly no reason. (I get that they were under oath by the Moon God, but the point still stands. They didn’t need to be that stiff.) Other than the reveal about Keema, nothing compelled me about either of them, or any of the other passing side characters. This novel was just so intent on chasing itself in circles that it forgot the essential elements that a novel needs.

All in all, a fantasy with great potential, but that ended up losing itself under layers of attempts to be daring and new. 2 stars.

The Spear Cuts Through Water is a standalone, but Simon Jimenez is also the author of The Vanished Birds.

Today’s song:

LOVE this album, this feels like a perfect match for “There’s No Other Way”

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!


book blogger, aspiring author, music nerd, comics fan, stargazer. ☆ she/her ☆ ISFJ ☆ bisexual ☆ spd ☆ art: @spacefacedraws pfp by @cybersoybean (picrew)

4 thoughts on “Book Review Tuesday (4/18/23) – The Spear Cuts Through Water

  1. Oh no! I’m sorry you didn’t like this one, but I totally understand all the reasons you hated it. I loved the experimental style and puzzle-like nature once I got into it and figured out the POVs, but I can definitely see why most people wouldn’t like it. It’s definitely not an easily accessible story by any means.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aw, bummer you didn’t like it. I’ve heard so many good things about it that I was planning on reading it next month. This review has lowered my expectations a bit in a good way (they were sky high before so now I’m more realistic lol).

    Liked by 1 person

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