The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

The Second Mango by Shira Glassman
Publisher: Prizm Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Full Length (165 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

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 think 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.

Queen Shulamit has a lot to deal with, everything from thinking she is the only lesbian in her country to becoming queen at the age of twenty, following the unexpected death of her father. She also has severe digestive problems which make it hard to find meals that she can actually eat without getting sick. Her lonely plight is further compounded by the fact that no one believes she gets sick when she eats and no one understands her love for women. Rivka enters her life just when she needs a friend. Rivka is a warrior who also happens to be a woman, although she usually disguises that fact.

I liked Rivka a lot. She is a very believable character with a lot of depth to her personality. I felt very sorry for Queen Shulamit, and I know she has led a very sheltered life, but still she seems terribly immature to me. She is twenty and she has just become queen of her land, but all she can think about is finding a girl friend. She hires Rivka to help in this search, but soon the two woman find themselves trying to defeat a sorcerer and save a woman’s religious house where nearly all the woman have been turned to stone.

Queen Shulamit does seem to mature a bit over the course of the novel as she tries to figure out ways to defeat the sorcerer, but again, it was Rivka who held my attention. The dialogue feels contrived in places and Queen Shulamit’s obsession with women is definitely more adolescent than adult. But there were some wonderful moments and I really liked the dragon who could turn into a horse and then back to a dragon.

This is a very gentle lesbian love story and it needs to be commended for that alone. It is also a fun fantasy adventure, and readers of fantasy will certainly enjoy it.

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