A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers

The sequel to A Psalm for the Wild-Built is here, and it’s just as tender and pleasant as its predecessor. A Prayer for the Crown-Shy takes Sibling Dex and the robot Mosscap on travels through towns, villages, and beautiful scenery, all to ask Mosscap’s essential question: what do humans need?

These books are the ultimate gentle read for me; it’s all calm atmosphere and descriptive detail, focused on everyday tasks mixed with meditative questions about purpose and fulfillment. We see lots of hospitality and manners, painting society as a cooperative, curious, and practical enterprise that has room for many types of people. Sibling Dex’s career as a traveling tea monk contributed to this in the last book – where tea and small comforts help all kinds of ailments – and in this book Mosscap’s tour of human society serves the same purpose, but with a focus on making connections and friendships, and the way helping others in society makes a positive atmosphere. Through Mosscap’s eyes we also see the wonder of everyday life, as the robot takes great delight in every beautiful tree and the personal possessions and trappings of everyday life. At the same time, the story makes room for weariness, rest, and feeling lost; Dex wrestles with feelings of emptiness and disconnection from their tea service, and neither Mosscap or anyone else shames them for it, choosing instead to be supportive of them whatever their emotional state.

Other scenes to warm the heart include Dex’s romance with a blue-bearded craftsman and a visit to Dex’s family farm filled with a huge number and range of loving, bickering relatives, again with positivity, inclusion, respect and acceptance as themes. If you’re looking for a utopian read where things go well and everyone works together to take care of each other – with a heaping helping of inclusion, love, and responsibility – definitely give the Monk & Robot books a read.

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