Marc reviews ‘The Second Mango’ (Mangoverse #1) by Shira Glassman. This book was released by the author on September 20th, 2016 and is 178 pages long.
RGR recieved a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I love to go outside my comfort zone now and again and read books that aren’t contemporary gay romance. When I had the chance to read and review ‘The Second Mango’, I knew I had to give it a try. While the title didn’t really draw me in, the blurb sounded very interesting and just like something I might enjoy.
Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody thinks she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately. Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay — Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.
This is a beautiful fairy tale about a young, lesbian queen on a quest for love. She is heart-broken about losing her beloved father and not yet ready to take over for him as queen.
People seem to adore her, but don’t really respect her. They think her love for women is weird and just a phase and believe she is lying about her digestive problems to get attention. Queen Shulamit is a smart woman, but has been so sheltered all her life that she is missing the common sense of real-life experience and is still a bit immature.
When she visits a brothel to quench her desire of being with a woman again, after her girlfriend just left her without a satisfying explanation, she is kidnapped. It doesn’t take long for the warrior Riv to rescue her. The two form a connection of sorts and Shulumit finds out her rescuer is a woman disguised as man. While Rivka is straight and no potential love interest for the queen, she agrees to accompany queen Sulamit on an adventure to find her a woman to love and cherish.
It was very interesting for me that Jewish religion was woven into the fabric of this tale, without seeming preachy. The story allows for readers to have their own perspective, without telling them what’s right and celebrates diversity and open-mindedness.
The adventures of queen Shulamit are fun and I loved finding out more about her and Rivka’s past. At times, what they experienced seems dark, but they always retain a hopeful outlook on life that was inspiring to me. They form a beautiful friendship as they ride on the back of a stallion that can turn into a dragon and fly them into the next adventure.
Rivka was a wonderful character as well. She is experienced, strong and brave and acts fast and with decisiveness. However, she is wearing a mask to be seen as a male warrior. All her skills and accomplishments wouldn’t be seen as worthy of the same respect if people knew she was a woman. There is a lot of discrimination and certain gender expectations she does not want to follow. I found her to be an interesting character with a difficult past and just the loyal friend queen Shulamit needed.
This story is a fairy tale with all the usual aspects like a queen, a warrior, a horse, thieves, a wizard and a quest, but it breaks convention by making the queen attracted to the same-sex and suffering from digestive problems, making the warrior a woman pretending to be a man to avoid gender discrimination, the horse a part-time dragon and celebrating differences.
This story wants to give readers valuable lessons about love, friendship, equality and other important issues and at times it seemed to be a bit corny to me, but there are also a lot of charming and sentimental moments. I loved the scene the title refers to in which the friendship between Shulamit and Rivka is decided by an act of kindness. The story made me smile and was a wonderful comfort read.
I can recommend this story and enjoyed the sequel (Climbing the Date Palm; review coming soon) even more (with a more mature queen Shulamit and a prince and his lover in need of her help), so I hope some of you will give it a try and enjoy it!
Rating: 7.5/10 Pots of Gold (75% Recommended) – Compares to 3.75/5 Stars
Shira Glassman is a bisexual Jewish violinist passionately inspired by German and French opera and Agatha Christie novels.
She lives in north central Florida, where the alligators are mostly harmless because they’re too lazy to be bothered.