Hey, guys! Thanks for tuning in to my stop on Escapist’s tour of The Jealousy of Jalice! Below, you’ll find my review, information about the book and author, as well as giveaway details so you can snag a copy of this book for yourself. Happy reading!
The Jealousy of Jalice by Jesse Nolan Bailey
Series: A Disaster of Dokojin #1
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Fantasy Horror
Intended Age Group: Adult
Published: June 22, 2021
Publisher: Jesse Nolan Bailey (Self Published)
Shown on Page:
- Manipulative relationships (romantic and platonic)
- Body horror
- Demonic possession
- Kidnapping (adult)
- Disturbing imagery/monsters
The land and its people are corrupted. The Sachem, chief of the Unified Tribes, is to blame.
It is this conviction that drives Annilasia and Delilee to risk their lives. Afraid of the aether magic he wields, they enact a subtler scheme: kidnap his wife. In her place, Delilee will pretend to be the chieftess and spy on the Sachem.
Unaware of this plot against her husband, Jalice is whisked away by Annilasia. Pleading with her captor proves futile, and she rejects Annilasia’s delusional accusations against the chief. After all, the Sachem has brought peace to the land.
Yet a dangerous truth hides in Jalice’s past. As she and Annilasia flee through a forest of insidious threats, they must confront the evil plaguing the tribes and the events that unleashed it.
You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Your Back • Memento • “I’ve Seen the Devil, Yeah, I Met Him Last Night”
***MILD SPOILER WARNING***
I’ll be honest. When I finished this book, I fought the urge to throw it across my living room. I was not happy with the ending. But, the more I think about it, the more I see it as the effective weave of storytelling that it is. This book has taught me something that, in some ways, I already knew: characters don’t have to be likable to be good. This brings me to my first talking point: Jalice.
Jalice presents as an unreliable narrator throughout much of the story. She is stricken by memory loss and spends a good portion of the story lamenting her situation. Through Annilasia’s eyes, we learn that Jalice has done something terrible, though we don’t learn what until later in the story. This makes Jalice an incredibly frustrating character, as her attitude begins (and remains) very woe-is-me, despite the majority of the plot events being, as we learn early on, her fault. Unfortunately, none of that changes. And that remains my biggest gripe for this novel. While Jalice is a character expertly written, it was disappointing to see that she never has an opportunity for real growth. After a lengthy discussion with my husband as to why this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to read more dark fantasy because this is apparently a common thing. I certainly wasn’t expecting a happy ending, but I was very jarred by the fact that Jalice never really seemed to take accountability for what she has done, even after she regains her memories. There is some setup for that to happen in later installments, but in a perfect world, it would have happened in TJoJ.
That being said, I want to talk about the things that really shine in Bailey’s writing. Where this story excels is in its worldbuilding. My husband and I had some debate on the inspiration behind this world (I thought Japanese folklore, he thought Aztec), but regardless of where Bailey got his inspiration, he turned it into something entirely his own. The unique combination of post-apocalyptic and tribal societies was reminiscent of Horizon: Zero Dawn without being a direct copy or something I’ve seen before. Every scene was fresh and each turn of the page brought some new creature, new horror, or new mystery to be solved. I was not left wanting as I read, as each challenge the characters faced was intense and exciting. The stakes were never lowered and lives were always on the line. It is truly a testament to Bailey’s creativity and talent that his story never loses its momentum. The situations never felt forced or repetitive, though the same key players were in multiple scenes through the narrative.
My final thoughts are a bit different. Rather than focus on the craft aspect of the book, I want to focus on a couple of different things. Namely, the monsters and the body horror present in the story.
Let’s start with the monsters. They were sick, and I mean that in more ways than one. Each new monster was terrifying and horrible, all while exuding gore and horror. If you’re a monster movie fan, I can almost guarantee you will be in love with TJoJ. Every time a new creature or monster or dokojin is introduced, they get more terrible and spout more legs. As someone who doesn’t regularly read monster stories, I was skeptical about their use initially. However, Bailey has made me a believer. The more monsters, the better. It was like he went straight into my nightmares and plucked out a couple of really good ones to slap on the page. This brings us to my next point…
I am not typically a fan of body horror. Skin peeling, eyeballs coming out, etcetera—not really my thing. However, I really liked the way Bailey handled it. It never felt out of place or excessive and nothing about it was ever glorified. It was meant to be horrible and traumatizing, and it never seemed to come from a sadistic place. The characters reacted to the horrible things they saw as any human would and I was able to see that experience through the (albeit low) level of horror that is in the pages. Also, seeing such a level of body horror in a fantasy book was something entirely new to me. I’ve never had a desire to really read anything grimdark, but for Bailey, I believe I would make that exception over and over.
The Jealousy of Jalice is not going to be for everyone. Jalice isn’t exactly a palatable character and the rest of them are all too human in their actions and thoughts. Plus, it does tackle a lot of things that are going to be hard for readers to digest. Ultimately, though, the story is well worth it. Even if I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending.
Amazon (ebook, 2nd edition): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B085BCZDT5/
Amazon paperback/hardback 2nd edition: https://www.amazon.com/Jealousy-Jalice-Disaster-Dokojin/dp/1734361646/
Bookshop.com (indie): https://bookshop.org/books/the-jealousy-of-jalice-9781734361650/9781734361650
About the Author
Enthralled by the magic that written stories contain, Jesse Nolan Bailey has always wanted to be an author. With his debut fantasy series, A DISASTER OF DOKOJIN, released to the masses, he can now feel validated in his growing sense of imposter syndrome. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he has embraced the equally-gratifying lifework of hosting a trio of spoiled cats and two mini-aussies.
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