REVIEW: What Souls Are Made Of by Tasha Suri

**I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley (thank you, Fierce Reads!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


what souls are made of: a wuthering heights remix cover

Book: What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix by Tasha Suri

Release Date: July 5, 2022

My Rating: 4.25 stars

Rep: biracial (Indian, white) protagonists and side character, sapphic side characters, Black side character, Indian side characters; (British-Indian author)

CW: physical abuse, racism (historical context)

Summary: What Souls Are Made Of, British Fantasy Award-winning author Tasha Suri’s masterful new take on Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, will leave readers breathless.

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?

Read my reviews of other books by the same author:

Saagar. That’s the word for sea. You asked me once, and I didn’t know. But forgotten things can come back to us, sometimes. Sometimes, lost things find their way home.

Although I haven’t read Wuthering Heights, I couldn’t wait to read Tasha Suri’s reimagining of it. I’ve loved her previous books so I was excited to see how she would approach this, especially for her first young adult novel and I was not disappointed! Stunningly gorgeous, What Souls Are Made Of tells a haunting tale of finding identity and a sense of belonging.

When Heathcliff is brought into Cathy‘s family as a child, the two of them quickly became friends. However, now, he has run away to Liverpool to start a new life there. Cathy mourns the loss of his presence but tries to pull herself together as a proper lady in order to marry her betrothed Edgar. Although separated, they both go through similar journeys of discovering new things about their identities and who they truly are.

Again, I haven’t read Wuthering Heights and only knew a little about it previously, mostly a few famous quotes. Prior to reading this book, I did read the Wikipedia page so I knew the bare bones of the plot. From my understanding of the characters, I think the way Tasha Suri reimagined this story with two protagonists of Indian descent living in England was incredibly well done. In the original novel, I don’t fully understand why Heathcliff and Cathy feel so closely bound to each other, but in this novel, it is clear that their stolen identities tie them to each other, even before they fully understand them.

In her author’s note, Suri talks about why she chose to set this book during the time period of Wuthering Heights where “Heathcliff first runs away, and Cathy is left behind.” She calls this book “a reimagining in which they discover things about themselves that set them on a different and more hopeful path.” I also like how she notes that in the original story, Cathy is never a narrator and that in this novel, she “wanted to give them both the chance to speak. And I wanted to give them roots.”

Heathcliff was an abandoned child of a lascaran Indian sailorin Liverpool, where Cathy’s father discovers him and brings him home. He’s dark-skinned and therefore viewed as other. Being light-skinned and “passing,” Cathy, on the other hand, has grown up not knowing that her true mother was Indian, her father’s mistress when he gained riches while in India as a part of the East India Company. As a child, she was always reprimanded for being wild, and we see this through a new lens when her mother’s identity is revealed. Her parents needed her to be well-behaved so that she could stay hidden.

Their shared backgrounds put into context why the two of them feel bound to each other. When they were younger, they both knew a few words of an unknown language. They felt the sense of feeling different—even though the reason was unbeknownst to Cathy—in their very souls. Suri writing the story within this context creates a whole new level to the original story.

This story itself was very interesting. Heathcliff tries to make a life for himself in Liverpool, wanting to get rich so he can return to the Heights as a wealthy man. He ends up finding himself a group of friends, a found family of other teenagers who are persecuted because of the color of their skin or country of origin. He also learns more about the possibilities of his origins. Meanwhile, Cathy is excited to marry Edgar, or at first she thinks she is. She also deals with her brother’s volatile moods, eventually learning of the secrets that haunt him. These secrets, including the ghost of her true mother, haunt her too until she comes to terms with the fact that she can no longer live life hidden, passing as white, as a lady.

I really liked the writing! Heathcliff’s and Cathy’s voices were clear and distinct; you could always tell whose chapter it was. Cathy’s mind read as a bit hazy and very gorgeous while Heathcliff is a bit rougher and straightforward. Both of their chapters read as streams-of-consciousness, which I think really puts you in both of their heads and keeps you engaged.

I don’t want to spoil the entire story, but I will say this is definitely a more hopeful reimagining, emphasis on reimagining. Suri made changes to the story, and I think the ending is very fitting to the new characterizations.

What Souls Are Made Of is a haunting tale of secrets and overcoming them to find your true identity. I loved the spin Suri puts on this story, especially the characters and the writing. Whether you’re a fan of Wuthering Heights or not, I think you’ll like What Souls Are Made Of!

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About the Author: Tasha Suri is the award-winning author of The Books of Ambha duology (Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash) and the epic fantasy The Jasmine Throne. Her upcoming novels include The Oleander Sword, sequel to The Jasmine Throne, and What Souls Are Made Of, a YA remix of Wuthering Heights. She is a writing tutor, an occasional librarian and cat owner. She has won the Best Newcomer (Sydney J. Bounds) Award from the British Fantasy Society and has been nominated for the Astounding Award and Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her debut novel Empire of Sand was named one of the 100 best fantasy books of all time by TIME magazine. When she isn’t writing, Tasha likes to cry over TV shows, buy too many notebooks, and indulge her geeky passion for reading about South Asian history. She lives with her family in a mildly haunted house in London.

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