The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw
Intense, introverted and grotesque. Small-scale, intense characterization, and at times problematic in the way it shows relationships developing. Still, on the whole I was interested, and some of the sheer metaphysical strangeness (moth-cows, and the titular turning of the main character's feet and then entire body) will probably stay with me.
It works in many ways as a horror account with some unconventional framing. There's a lot of effort to almost downplay the main fantastical happenings, for instance. The awareness of the unfolding transformation isn't really the dramatic focus of the book, rather it's how the change provokes an extended process of acceptance, and how it factors into the main relationships of the main character. That description makes it sound like a sentimental work which it really isn't--the tone is a lot harsher in assessing the characters and the obsession they sometimes have for each other. The larger representation of humanity probably counts as a bleak one, yet the story tone is light enough and there are enough beautiful passages to make for more than a pessimistic representation.
I'm extremely ambivalent on this one, not at the end very clear what the Shaw was aiming for or how effectively he executed it. I can't exactly count it as a good work because of how vague I feel at the end about the larger story, how I can fit different themes equally into interpreting the point behind the story. Including, most troubling, the possibility of a rather sexist authorial viewpoint given the terms by which women consistently appear. It can also be seen as empowering to an extent, and it manages a sustained first person viewpoint of a complex woman with a lot more sympathy than a lot of (male) authors provide. In the end I'm considerably more favorable for this than Cloud and Ashes, as while I'm unsure as to some of the underlying major points the basic story was comprehensible, and rather compelling, and the high quality of the writing felt like an asset rather than something that undermined the narrative. In the end I am glad I read this work, as it provides a very different feel than most fantasy. I may even reread it at some point, as I think it would benefit from more careful consideration.
Worse than: King Rat by China Mieville
Better than: Cloud and Ashes by Greer Gilman