Tanvi Berwah, "Monsters Born and Made" (Sourcebooks Fire, 2022)


Today I talked to Tanvi Berwah about Monsters Born and Made (Sourcebooks Fire, 2022).

In our narrator Koral’s world—an oceanic world full of sea monsters, brutal heat, and only a few islands—choices are limited. Koral belongs a to class of people called Renters, who don’t own land, or in many cases, even have proper dwellings. The Landers live protected inside a cool place called the Terrafort, safe from the dangers that the Renters experience every day.

Koral’s angry father, quiet mother and sick little sister depend on her and her brother Emrik to earn enough to keep the simple dwelling they live in, and to buy her sister’s medicine. Koral’s family are, by tradition, Hunters, a special class of Renters which have a few more privileges, than most others. Hunters catch and train the wild sea monsters called maristags, which are used in the Glory Race held every four years.

This year, however, it looks like Emrik and Koral’s luck has run out. They have one maristag, a female, left, but fail to catch a male to breed her with. In desperation, Koral finds a way to participate in the Glory Race, although she will be the first Renter to do so. Not only must she race with a barely tamed maristag and a decrepit chariot, she must also bear the hostility of both the Landers and the other Renters for not knowing her place. The three days of the race are nonstop action, with unexpected attacks by swarms of aqua bats, rebel Renters, and other charioteers looking to scare Koral off, as well as tense encounters with Dorian, a former Lander friend of Koral’s who is competing against her. It seems like almost no one believes that Koral can win this race.

Except her sick little sister.

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