Book Review: Passing Strange

A sapphic historical romance that ALSO has magic?? You bet I scrambled to pick this one up as soon as possible.

Six women come together in 1940s San Francisco, united by a common love that society doesn’t understand. Together they explore a world of art, magic, chance, and ultimately, romance. 

I absolutely ATE THIS BOOK UP. For starters, all of the scenery is described so, so beautifully, which I guess makes sense given that one of the main characters is an artist. It really felt like I was looking into a painting. I don’t usually like long descriptive passages, but every single image was rendered in such gorgeous detail. 

Although the blurb claims that there are 6 main characters, I only saw three: Helen, Haskel, and Emily. I loved the romance, and this is another book that I so wish had a sequel where we could follow it further. I will say that this was also a tough read at times, as the way that LGBTQ+ people and POC were treated in this period was absolutely horrible. There’s a very big focus on how these communities had to “sell” themselves as entertainment in order to survive in society (I really want to emphasize the content warnings for racism/homophobia here so that nobody goes into this not knowing what to expect). 

While I was absolutely in love with the MCs and the way the story was written, especially for this being such a quick read, I was a little disappointed with the magic incorporation. It was kind of tossed in at the beginning and end, with little reference or importance throughout the middle. I think if the story had been expanded, the central conflict could have had more of a build up, and the magic could’ve been integrated better. 

But really, I very much enjoyed this. It had a very relaxing pace, but also brought up some really difficult topics in history. And of course, the romance was the best part. 

On a final note, I’d like to offer a disclaimer. This work takes place in the 1940s, and focuses on a couple of marginalized groups. There are a lot of stereotypes/slurs both used and discussed with the characters. In this review I aimed to evaluate how enjoyable the story and writing was, but I am in no way qualified to speak to the sensitivity or historical accuracy in how these communities were represented. I ask that if anyone has read this book and feels that it offers harmful representation, PLEASE don’t hesitate to let me know. 

Happy reading!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 3.5/5
Pace: Slow (but in a good way)
Intended audience: Adult
Content warnings: abuse (partner and parental), homophobia, slurs, sexual assault, mentions of terminal illness, suicide 

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Favorite Friday topic: favorite underrated book

14 thoughts on “Book Review: Passing Strange

  1. This book sounds so good, It’s already on my TBR 🙂 Even though you said you were disappointed with the magic incorporation, it still sounds like an awesome book!


  2. This sounds really interesting and I appreciate the trigger warnings! 🙂 However thats disappointing to hear the magic wasn’t given more pages. However I love historical romances so I’ll have to check this out!

    Liked by 1 person

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