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  • Writer's pictureTabitha Tomala

Bloemetje by Amanda McNeil 2023 SFINCs Book Review

SFINCS 2023 Championship Banner
SFINCS 2023 Championship Banner

This review is part of the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship (SFINCS). SFINCS, pronounced “sphinx”. This is a yearly competition to recognize, honor, and celebrate the talent and creativity present in the indie community. It’s a sister competition to both SPFBO and SPSFC, and it highlights greatness in the novella format in all areas of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc.).

To see more information on my team Behind the Musings check out this post!

Bloemetje by Amanda McNeil  book cover
Bloemetje by Amanda McNeil

Blurb for Bloemetje

One miniature girl leads her human and fairy people to decolonize Venus in this speculative, queer-inclusive reimagining of Thumbelina.

A Dutch company known as The Bedrijf commences colonizing Venus via the construction of a dome filled with plants that convert its natural air into something breathable by humans. Since all workers are granted permission to bear a child, a woman and her spouse join the crew. But the woman soon discovers she is plagued with infertility. When her spouse illegally brings home a tulip from the garden, they discover a miniature baby inside who they name Bloemetje - little bloom. As the baby grows in mere days into a teenager, pushing her boundaries, she illuminates the true horrors of colonization and leads them all on a journey to decolonize.

This retelling takes the original Thumbelina’s focus on marriage and flips it on its head, granting the miniature girl a strong voice of her own and questioning her removal from the fairy world. Exploring themes of childlessness, adoption, being childfree by choice, colonization, decolonization, negative impacts of capitalism, and what LGBTQIA+ inclusive societies can look like, this novelette comes in 17 bite-sized episodes perfect for reading in the small snippets of time available to modern individuals and families.

Early readers called this “transporting” and “intriguing.” The “journey is beautiful,” and the ending is “deeply satisfying.” “A great escape read that also made me think, and it’s both quick and engrossing.”


Book Review for Bloemetje

A group of humans have left Earth to terraform the planet Venus. Placing a dome around a suitable piece of land, they’ve introduced vegetation that will allow them a breathable atmosphere. But what they never took into consideration is the destruction they are doing in the process. While humans are beginning to thrive, the native species are slowly but surely losing their natural resources.

Bloemetje not only addresses the themes of colonization but many other important topics such as adoption and inclusive LGBTQ+ society. The story first focuses on a woman and her partner. While many of her fellow humans are beginning to show signs of pregnancy, she and her partner are facing infertility. Her mental health begins to spiral as the realization of it begins to surface. At one of her lowest moments, her partner brings home a tulip in an effort to lift her spirits. And from that tulip Bloemetje is born. A tiny baby girl, no bigger than their thumb.

The story will shift to Bloemetje's point of view, as she tries to understand the world around her. Kept in secret, she can only catch glimpses of the world from time to time. Amanda McNeil did a fantastic job showing a child’s need to grow and explore with Bloemetje's curiosity. The little girl asks questions and her need to know more about the world around her is as charming as it is dangerous. And though there are threats of greater conflict and disagreements between Bloemetje and her adopted parents, the story does not portray immediate conflict often.

This retelling of Thumbelina has such a wonderful goal. To bring light to the difficulties many face in the world. Amanda McNeil uses a fairytale style to tactfully address these issues in a sensitive way. Each episodic chapter is easy to digest and allows the reader time to take breaks in the event anything is triggering. If you enjoy fairytale retellings, give Bloemetje a read.

To Purchase: Bookshop | Author's Website

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