Queerly Not Straight: ‘Crier’s War’ by Nina Varela Review

In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Tuesday I’ll be posting opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx/WOC community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.


Fantasy sci-fi has always been my favorite kind of read. I love the castles, the dragons, and the twists of sci-fi that have robots or technology as the villain of the story. But no matter how far I searched or how much I looked, I could never find a queer fantasy sci-fi that satisfied my need to see myself in the work being put together. Then Crier’s War by Nina Varela walked into my life.

Crier’s War is first and foremost unapologetically queer. 

Let’s give a little backdrop information so you understand why I say this. Automae aka robots that look like perfect reflections of humans, are the rulers of the land. Not long ago they were the playthings of humans but rebellion changed the dynamic between the Automae and the humans, the former conquering the latter. 

Ayla, a human servant with an axe to grind when it comes to the Automae, ends up working for the local sovereign’s daughter aka Lady Crier. This daughter, created like every Automae before her, isn’t like the Automae that surround her. Yes, she was created to be literal cold perfection, but the way that she looks at humans and the way that her father has raised has given her a different perspective on humans than other Automae.

And here’s where the queer part comes in. Queer goodness that isn’t painted as anything else but what it truly is. Ayla and Crier catch feelings for each other. They don’t want it to happen. Ayla because she so wants to hate Crier for the kind of being she is and especially because she is related to those that tore her family apart. And Crier because she has been taught that she is more than humans and that they are beneath Automae kind.

But the queer feelings still catch and you are left with two women who struggle with the weight of their ancestors versus what they feel for each other. And that’s not to say that everything is bright and flower filled for both. They don’t want to feel like this and are convinced that giving into their feelings is the wrong way to go about things even though they feel the bond between them growing.

What you’re left with is a rich story told from alternating perspectives that grounds these characters while giving them wings to fly on their own. Ayla grows as a young woman and confronts her own prejudices. And Crier grows into a young Automae who isn’t blinded by what she is told by those she holds in closest regards. Combine this with the go, go, go pace of the story and you’ve got a book that is hard to put down because it’s so captivating.

Crier’s War is the fantasy sci-fi that you should be reading, especially if you are looking for queer content that develops into fully fledged characters, complex worlds, and unstoppable drama that keeps you glued to your seat and muttering to yourself, “Just one more chapter.”

Crier’s War is available to purchase NOW.


Queerly Not Straight posts every Tuesday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)

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