A Country of Ghosts by Margaret Killjoy is the second in the Black Dawn series and is the first anarchist utopian fantasy that I have read. AKC publishing was kind enough to send me this arc without expecting a review in return but the longer I sit with the concepts Killjoy describes, the more I want to talk about it.
I will admit that after the initial read, I had given this book 3 stars and was trying to figure out how to word a review without calling the author naive. It was only after reading the first sentence of the afterword that I realized I had made a mistake. This is why I believe that for anyone, like myself, new to utopian fantasy/fiction the afterword of A Country of Ghosts works better as a foreword, at least the first section of it. I was spending so much time trying to figure out how Killjoy thought this system of respectful anarchism, where no one can force anyone to do anything, would work in our modern world that I was missing the point of the novel. The first sentence of Killjoy’s afterword is “This book is not a blueprint”. She goes on to explain that she doesn’t provide a system of governing in this book but examines what freedom really means and how it is shaped by the relationships we have with all other people. Looking back on A Country of Ghosts with this lens, I understand the narrative so much better and can appreciate how applicable its themes actually are. Freedom is a relationship that we must care for and nurture with those around us, not a static state of being. After reading A Country, I feel like I understand at least a portion of the anarchist movement a bit better.
So after all this confusion, I would give this book a 4.25 star rating. If you are interested in discussions about the ways we can improve life for ourselves and those around us, I’d definitely recommend this book!
If you’re interested in picking it up you can get it here:
This review was originally posted on my Instagram on Nov. 23 2021