Deliriously rich world-building, clever creatures, a winding plot, and a cigar-smoking dragon await. Enjoy the ride.
Trigger warnings for this book: suicide, schizophrenia, mental institutionalization, very graphic descriptions of gore and death.
After rousing from a potentially illicit-drug-induced stupor Jing realizes she isn’t in Kansas anymore, nor her hometown of Detroit where she’s the drummer in a band, or even Earth for that matter: she discovers she has somehow awoken on an asteroid called Psyche. Jing decides also finds herself preyed upon by a cigar-smoking dragon that feeds on her memories, seemingly protected by an elephantine dog. Through Jing’s memories, the reader discovers that she remembers being committed to a mental institution called Glenbrook for a possible diagnosis of schizophrenia.
The Drummer Girl was clearly simmering in the author’s brain for a significant amount of time. The world-building and descriptions of the features of the world are well-developed and luscious, enabling the reader to picture Psyche in all its fictitious glittering glory. (Speaking of glitter, have you seen the fantastic book cover art?) The creatures inhabiting Psyche as well as the landscapes remind me of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation trilogy with a bit of Alice in Wonderland kissed by the horror fiction fairy.
Is schizophrenia what caused Jing’s mother to take her own life and now wreaking havoc in Jing’s own life? Is this diagnosis propping up Psyche as an schizophrenic-grade illusion, or is Glenbrook trying to tamp down Psyche? Is the asteroid, Psyche, ironically named? Is this all a really bad trip? While I can’t recommend eating while doing so, I do recommend reading The Drummer Girl to find out.