It's been five years since the accident that killed the love of Feyi's life and she's almost a new person now. Her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, insists it's time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn't ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career. But their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the overwhelming desire Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits—his father. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future?
Rousing, celebratory ... An unabashed ode to living with, and despite, pain and mortality. I love this book’s understanding of how tightly grief can tangle itself with elation, and how loss might elicit possession. It is also riotously, delightfully queer, featuring, hallelujah, so many characters who weren’t straight that I had trouble remembering if anyone even was heterosexual ... Emezi’s latest novel is a departure in genre and prose style from their previous work, and it could appeal especially to people who, living through an isolating pandemic that has accelerated loss, hunger for more joie de vivre.
Emezi extends their interest in genre fiction, which has so far encompassed young adult fantasy, speculative fiction and poetry, but revisits recurring themes such as love, family, faith and identity. This is romance, albeit with a large slice of grief and survivor’s guilt, so a happily-ever-after ending is expected — required, even. What distinguishes novels of this genre is the skill with which an author innovates within the confines of a predictable narrative arc. In this book, Emezi manages to adhere to romance conventions, while turning all sorts of expectations on their head ... With the encouragement of her best friend Joy — their friendship and its zinging, expletive-driven dialogue is one of the best things about the novel — Feyi is determined to thin out her grief ... While Feyi’s meditation on what it means to be alive is a major recurring theme throughout the novel, one that ultimately decides her hand, this repetitive preoccupation also makes the first third of the novel drag ... There are instances where Emezi resorts to clichéd metaphors ... But You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty...is more literary than most romance novels. Emezi has a poet’s facility for striking imagery in their descriptions of the paradisiacal island, which are full of sensory detail. And simple lines of text are charged with emotion ... It is the three-dimensional portrait of its protagonist, together with an unusual depiction of love and loss, that really anchors this novel.
... a lush, high-stakes romance novel that diehard romance loyalists and genre newcomers alike will appreciate. Emezi’s literary range is legendary, having succeeded in memoir, poetry and literary fiction for both adult and young adult readers, but it’s still a wonder that they’ve pulled off one of the most sensational and taboo tropes in the romance genre: falling in love with the parent of your romantic partner ... For me, as for many readers, family boundaries are sacred—or, from another perspective, radioactive. Emezi conquers these reservations with palpable chemistry and gorgeous prose, offering an indelibly poignant portrait of a second chance at love for two people who have suffered searing loss ... Emezi’s novel is notable for respecting the conventions of the romance genre while imbuing Feyi and Alim’s story with a distinctly progressive sensibility. The lovers are finely drawn, modern and specific. Both are Black, queer and sexy, and descriptions of their beauty are worth the price of admission alone. Feyi’s artwork is experimental and edgy, with a secret ingredient I won’t spoil ... Another lovely element of the novel is Emezi’s departure from the implicit rule that a romance protagonist can’t hook up with anyone but their one true love. Feyi experiments sexually, makes a risky choice or two and isn’t punished for it. Her freedom and sex positivity shouldn’t be rare in romance novels, but it is ... The list of admirable qualities of You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty is long, but I’ll end with this: Emezi executes their first romance with creativity and deep respect. Come for the swoon; stay for the passion.