Huh. A sympathetic, realistic exploration of mental health set in space with blue-skinned, horned aliens.
Barbarian’s Beloved by Ruby Dixon
Ariana finds herself on an ice planet, essentially married to an alien. And she has an anxiety disorder. There is no Xanax on blue barbarian alien planets, apparently. Dixon does a really good job of showing the best and worst of Ariana, the way her disorder affects her and how she is able to live with it. And Zolaya, that horned furry beast man, is a real treasure of patience and care. Maybe he’s a little too perfectly perfect, but the book is already treading a fine line between believability and fantasy in setting and plot, so it’s not a stretch to have a beta alien hero who immediately “gets” the ins and outs of an anxiety disorder and says/does all the right things for Ariana. Overall, I commend Dixon for tackling a difficult subject and making it not only sympathetic but interesting and compelling to read. 4 stars.