Kai Ashante Wilson’s A Taste of Honey is an own voices fantasy novella that follows Aqib, fourth-cousin to the Olorumi royal family and the youngest child of the Master of Beasts. Unlike many fantasy stories, A Taste of Honey takes place in a time of peace. A Dalucan delegation is visiting Olorum, and they bring experienced soldiers to help train the Olorumi army in their advanced techniques. It is through this visiting delegation that Aqib meets Lucrio, a handsome Dalucan soldier, and is swept into a whirlwind romance, despite society and his family’s disapproval.
I read A Taste of Honey immediately after completing Rivers Solomon’s The Deep and both stories have a lyrical style of writing (on different ends of the spectrum) that isn’t always present in fantasy. Wilson’s style of writing is evocative, and uses dialectic speech and narrative to create a vivid world and characters.
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t find this novella hard to read at times. It was not necessarily from the events of the story (though there is familial violence against Aqib due to his relationship with Lucrio), but rather the writing style and narrative structure.
First, I had to get used to the unfamiliar dialects used in the book, and then I had to deal with the non-linear timeline. If you have read any of my other reviews, you probably know that I don’t like stories with extensive flashbacks, or stories that flit back and forth in time. A Taste of Honey doesn’t follow a strictly linear timeline, but moves forward and backward through time throughout the entire book. Wilson does clearly indicate at every chapter where this piece of the story is taking place in time; however, I still found myself growing frustrated with the constant need to reacclimate to the different points of time.
Regardless of my opinions about the non-linear narrative structure, Wilson creates a vivid and interesting world with deep connections between characters, despite the limited length of the book. I ached for Aqib and Lucrio. I worried endlessly about Aqib’s decision and it’s consequences.
I was worried that A Taste of Honey was going to end in…not necessarily tragedy, but…unfulfilled promise? However, the twist of an ending, brought the story back to a happy and fulfilling end to Aqib’s story – an ending that puts aside any of Aqib’s doubts.
I would love to read more about Aqib and Lucrio. How do they continue to develop their relationship beyond it’s whirlwind start? How does middle age suit them? What happens in their lives beyond the little we learn in A Taste of Honey?