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Review: Pledging Season – Erika Erickson Malinoski

The Pledging Season - Erika Erickson Malinoski

Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance, Women’s Lit, Fantasy

LGBTQ+ Category: Gender Fluid, Non-Binary

Reviewer: Lucy

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About The Book

In a world where gender is turned inside out, the struggle for equality continues…

Brilliant scientist Ya’shul thinks he has everything a man could ask for: the honor of caring for his family, the opportunity to help conceive children, and a groundbreaking chance to prove he’s just as good at science as any woman. But Ya’shul isn’t growing up on Earth. Instead, his life is shaped by a faraway matriarchy, one whose traditions and power structures demonstrate just how arbitrarily human beings organize gender—and why they choose to do so. When a backlash Ya’shul never expected shatters his dreams, he’ll have to find out whether attempting to have it all will mean losing everything he’s ever known.

Wanderer Andeshe is all too aware that the life her people have led is ending. Looming solar storms will force her family to give up the giant pterosaurs they’ve always flown—unless she and Ya’shul can work together to save the majestic creatures from starvation. But Andeshe is unprepared for the cost of working so closely with Ya’shul. Suddenly dependent on a culture that sacrifices repair and restoration in favor of punishment and shame, she must choose between abandoning her deepest values and becoming expendable herself. As the unlikely allies navigate a web of ruthless politics and fragile trust, everything is on the table: loyalty, justice, and the meaning of freedom itself.

Both refreshingly new and eerily familiar, Pledging Season aims the power of speculative fiction directly at the assumptions that make sexism and misogyny possible. Filled with insight, compassion, and ultimately hope, it is a must read for anyone ready to reimagine the world we think we know. 

Content Advisory: Contains explicit consensual sex, no violence.

The Review

The Pledging Season by Erika Erickson Malinoski is the first in the Under Other Moons series and creates an amazing world so very different from, and yet, in many ways, the same as our own. The harshness of their world, the environmental effects on their society are beautifully detailed. The author has created a matriarchal society where women are the scientists, the engineers, the artists, the leaders because they are the ones who give birth and create life. We see the conflicts as men try to assert themselves and create more opportunities for themselves. And we watch as people with power manipulate the situations in their favor. 

The main characters, Andeshe and Ya’shul, have a complex relationship. They each have much to learn about their world and the changes that are upon them. But they also have much to teach. They are coming from very different backgrounds and are approaching a shared goal from opposite points of view which leads to all sorts of conflicts.

This is a very well-crafted story which flows nicely and takes us along as the characters discover truths about their society and themselves.  This is the first book I’ve read by Erika Erickson Malinoski, but I’m looking forward to the others in this series.

The Reviewer

I’m an avid reader who loves pretty much all genres except math textbooks. As a kid, my parents exposed me to everything from fairies, hobbits, and dragons to the biographies of interesting people around the world, interspersed with poetry, plays, and music. Into adulthood, I spent a lot of years with my nose buried in various textbooks. Now, I read whatever grabs my fancy.