Title: What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix
Creators: Tasha Suri
Genres: Historical fiction
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Review copy: Library
Availability: Available now!
Summary: As the abandoned son of a Lascar—a sailor from India—Heathcliff has spent most of his young life maligned as an “outsider.” Now he’s been flung into an alien life in the Yorkshire moors, where he clings to his birth father’s language even though it makes the children of the house call him an animal, and the maids claim he speaks gibberish.
Catherine is the younger child of the estate’s owner, a daughter with light skin and brown curls and a mother that nobody talks about. Her father is grooming her for a place in proper society, and that’s all that matters. Catherine knows she must mold herself into someone pretty and good and marriageable, even though it might destroy her spirit. As they occasionally flee into the moors to escape judgment and share the half-remembered language of their unknown kin, Catherine and Heathcliff come to find solace in each other. Deep down in their souls, they can feel they are the same.
But when Catherine’s father dies and the household’s treatment of Heathcliff only grows more cruel, their relationship becomes strained and threatens to unravel. For how can they ever be together, when loving each other—and indeed, loving themselves—is as good as throwing themselves into poverty and death?
Review: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of Wuthering Heights. My primary exposure to it is the Kate Bush song, which my friends and I delighted in screeching (“It’s me! I’m Cathyyyyyyy!”) while skipping through fields of tall, crackly weeds behind the local park. That, and the Hark! A Vagrant comics by Kate Beaton. But I am a fan of Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne (1/3rd of the fabulous Sapphic Trifecta of fantasy books that took the SFF world by storm last year), so of course I was interested in checking out What Souls Are Made Of when it was announced.
I’ll make this brief: What Souls Are Made Of is an absolute must-read. It grabs you from page one with the perspectives of Catherine and Heathcliff, and it doesn’t let you go for a single moment. It’s a poignant and powerfully written take on Wuthering Heights that brings a different lens to this classic. In this particular retelling, the focus turns to people of color in 18th century England, to trauma, to being Othered, to the way people find their way home, to revenge, even when they aren’t welcomed.
It’s a gorgeous gothic romance. If you’re reluctant to read Wuthering Heights like me, then, eh, don’t bother. Just read What Souls Are Made Of, a page-turner that will make your heart hurt in all the best ways right up until the last sentence. So far, I’ve been loving the “remix” series of books, and this one is another hit. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Recommendation: Buy it now!