Review #209 // Nine of Swords, Reversed – Xan West

Nine of Swords, ReversedWhen Dev’s arthitis flares, xe is unable to shield properly so xe could not safely touch xyr submissive Noam. Noam begins to pull away as their relationship suffers from this. Then, Dev has a dream-vision causing one of the biggest meltdowns xe has had in a while. With the help of another genderfluid mage, Dev begins to unpack the situation as best as xe can.

Why this book?: I consider Xan a good friend of mine, so of course I would review their new novella, especially when the last piece of their’s I read, Tenderness, made me cry.

Thank you to Xan for sending me a copy!

Note: TW kink for this entire review, as well as the novella itself.

Something about Xan’s writing has always made me feel really happy and secure. With their Tenderness, I was able to read about something that I experience a lot but never really got a good handle on. I was also able to read about a found family, something that I was sure I would never find–and ended up finding soon after heading to college. I knew that Nine of Swords, Reversed would have to be just as good as Tenderness, so I dove in with high expectations. And Xan did not disappoint.

I’ll be honest: I’m not that familiar with kink and I’ve never really thought about it. I knew I might be missing stuff when I dove into Xan’s stories, because a lot of their stuff has to do with kink. I’ve never not enjoyed something because it included kink–in fact, I’ve almost always enjoyed something if it included kink or even mentioned it. Something about it just gives of an intimate feeling, and that might be the reason why Xan’s writing always makes me feel calm and safe. Either way, my opinion of this book comes from a … non-kinky (?) point of view.

Dev and Noam’s relationship was probably the highlight of this book for me. Both of them have their own personal struggles, and with a little bit of outside help, they’re able to come together and discuss their relationship openly. I always love reading lovely, healthy relationships like this in novels, especially ones that don’t feature sex, because it’s such a rare combination to find in books. My relationship with sex is complicated and hard to pin down, so being able to read about a healthy relationship that doesn’t feature sex at the forefront was … amazing.

Another aspect of this novella that I enjoyed so much is Dev and Noam’s gender identities. Dev used xe/xym/xyr pronouns, and–even though I read plenty of novels with non-binary characters–I’m pretty sure this is the first novella that I read with a protagonist with neopronouns. Noam used they/them pronouns, and I enjoyed that as well, considering I use they/them as my preferred pronouns.

Final Rating: ★★★★★


Like I said above, I’m not familiar with kink. But I still found aspects of this book that I loved and enjoyed. I loved Dev and Noam, and I loved their relationship. I can’t even begin to think of something that I didn’t like, and I’m excited to read more of Xan’s stories with these characters.

Would I Recommend?

Totally! I marked this review at the top with a trigger warning for kink, so if that is something you need to keep away from, then I completely understand. But personally, I really enjoyed this book, and will probably be rereading when I’m down–just like I do with Tenderness.

Nine of Swords, ReversedAdditional Information:

Published: December 31st, 2018

Publisher: Self-Published

Page Count: 45

Genre: Romance

Synopsis: via Goodreads

Dev has been with xyr service submissive Noam for seven years and xe loves them very much. Dev and Noam have built a good life together in Noam’s family home in Oakland, where they both can practice their magecraft, celebrate the high holidays in comfort, support each other as their disabilities flare, and where Noam can spend Shabbos with their beloved family ghost.

But Dev’s got a problem: xe has been in so much arthritis pain recently that xe has not been able to shield properly. As an empath, no shielding means Dev cannot safely touch Noam. That has put a strain on their relationship, and it feels like Noam is pulling away from xym. To top it off, Dev has just had an upsetting dream-vision about xyrself and Noam that caused one of the biggest meltdowns xe has had in a while. It’s only with a timely tarot reading and the help of another genderfluid mage that Dev is able to unpack the situation. Can xe figure out how to address the issues in xyr relationship with Noam before everything falls apart?

- Avery (2)

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