Fruiting Bodies by Kemi Ashing-Giwa

Fruiting Bodies by Kemi Ashing-Giwa
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

An alien fungal infection has ravaged a faraway planet, turning all but six of the colonists into ravenous alarinkiri. Inyama, a mycologist, is her species’ last hope. But it’s not expertise her fellow survivors want from her.

It takes courage to keep going when all hope might be lost.

I was pleasantly surprised by how late in the outbreak I first met these characters. Everyone already had basic knowledge on how the fungus was spread and what they could do to reduce their chances of catching it. This meant that Inyama’s quest had become more important than ever as the time was quickly approaching when everyone might be infected with it. Most science fiction about this topic begins with the first case or two, so it was refreshing to read something that bent those rules for the sake of increasing the stakes and keeping the reader guessing about whether this colony of humans would survive on the planet they had so recently settled.

It would have been helpful to have more descriptions of how Inyama knew the other characters, especially when it came to her connection with Morayo. Figuring this out was important to understanding certain plot developments later on, so I spent most of the storyline trying to puzzle these things out. This dampened my enthusiasm for a tale that was otherwise tightly written and enjoyable.

The horror elements were well written and fit into the science fiction themes nicely. What surprised me the most about them was how the author managed to sneak a little hope into a world that really shouldn’t have had any of it left at all. I can’t say much more about this without sharing spoilers, but I did like the unconventional approach to what a happy ending should look like that the main character presented to the audience. It fit her personality and the dreadful seriousness of the fungal plague beautifully.

Fruiting Bodies was a delicious piece of science fiction horror that I’d happily recommend to anyone who enjoys one or both of those genres.

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