Out of Exile, by Derek Alan Siddoway
What if the medieval Europe of traditional fantasy took place in the American West? Out of Exile explores the combination of the two in an exciting story in a refreshingly different setting. We have the classic western story of a young man, Revan, whose home is attacked and his mother kidnapped, who sets out on a journey to rescue her, set in the high mountains, rugged canyons, and broad plains of the American West, along with the buffalo hunts and horse culture of the indigenous people, but with such familiar epic fantasy elements as bards, taverns, kings, knights in armor, a hint of magic, and mysterious beings who aren't quite human. And leprechauns. Okay, maybe leprechauns aren't quite standard fantasy fare, but they're a lot of fun. And pretty fierce warriors, too.
There's a lot of well-thought-out worldbuilding and history woven through the story. The story of the downfall of Revan's family and the wars that led to the present situation is told in short sections at the beginnings of several of the chapters, paced in such a way as to shed light on what's happening in the present part of the story and to build suspense towards revealing the identity of the mysterious and ominous White Knight. The story starts out simple but builds in richness and complexity, adding in a mysterious cavern, a woman who is dead but you get the feeling her story isn't over, a member of the band of inhuman beings who kidnapped Revan's mother who is in turn captured by Revan and his companions, a band of rebels, a stalemate that can only end in war, and the looming White Knight. There were a few minor issues in the narrative, such as pacing and clarity of action, and I would have liked a little more depth in the character development - though the characters are very engaging - and a somewhat stronger role for the numerous female characters in the story. I did like it that Revan's mother, whose background isn't explained much but who comes from what appears to be a female warrior culture (she's a Valkyrie), also embraces and cherishes her role as wife (though she's widowed now) and mother. Contrary to how they're often protrayed, kick-butt female characters can also embrace more traditional feminine characteristics, and I think this needs to be shown more often.
On the whole, I found Out of Exile to be an enjoyable, gripping story in a setting that's a refreshing change from the standard Fantasyland.
For more about medieval westerns, read Derek's guest post here.
Time for another update on my self-imposed A-Z reading challenge. (Part 1 is here.) The rules: Going A-Z by title, it has to be a book I already own on my Kindle (if I don't have a book for a particular letter, if I have a sample for one I can buy that), indie authors preferred. DNFs don't count; if I can't finish a book, I find another one from the the same letter. (Links go to Goodreads.)
The Hawk and His Boy (The Tormay Trilogy #1), Christopher Bunn
Really lovely fantasy, set in a world filled with ancient magic both wondrous and terrible, written in beautiful prose. The story is in part about a young thief boy, Jute, who stumbles across a magnificent and terrifying destiny in the course of a thieving job, and is befriended by a mysterious hawk. Full review here.
I liked The Hawk and His Boy so much that I went off track and read the rest of the trilogy right away. The Shadow at the Gate and The Wicked Day are both also excellent.
Iron Flower (The Legend of the Iron Flower #2), Billy Wong
The further adventures of Rose Agen, powerhouse female warrior. There's more magic in this book than in the first, as Rose, her lover Finn, and their scholar friend Derrick find themselves involved in the return of magic to the world. It reads more like three installments of a serial rather than a continuous novel. But it's lots of fun and the fights and the newly-rediscovered magic are exciting.
The Jongurian Mission (The Jongurian Trilogy #1), Greg Strandburg
Young Bryn thinks he's going to spend the rest of his life moving rocks on his uncle's farm. Then his other uncle, an Adjurian trade official, shows up saying it's time Bryn saw the world. Bryn goes with his uncle to an important trade conference in the capital city, then on a trade mission to one-time enemy Jonguria, where things turn far more dangerous and deadly than you would expect from a simple trade mission. The worldbuilding, history, and political/economic aspects are very detailed and well-thought-out, and readers who appreciate fantasy with a heavy emphasis on those things will find this book interesting. Full review here.
Keepers of Arden: The Brothers, Volume 1, L.K. Evans
I really enjoyed this fantasy tale of two brothers - Wilhelm, big, handsome, good-natured, popular with the ladies, and Salvarias, dark and strange, gifted with magical powers beyond his years and terrified of the evil within him. We follow the two from the terrible conception and birth of Salvarias, Wilhelm's much-longed-for baby brother, through their childhood and teenage years and into early adulthood, as the two become part of a battle between forces of light and darkness to conquer Arden. Full review here.
Lady Falls (Black Rose Trilogy #1), Renee Bernard
Interesting concept, an orphan is adopted and groomed to be her guardian's means of revenge against someone who wronged him, but it kind of fell apart in the execution. The revenge ploy turned out to not nearly live up to the potential of how cool and devastating it could have been. I was also put off by the very explicit sex scenes involving the 17-year-old heroine. Otherwise, this could have been lots of fun. The subplot with the abused wife of one of the house party guests was much more interesting and well carried out.
A Mail-Order Bride for Jim Liley!, Raymond Cook
Jim Liley is a young man growing up in a Colorado quarrying town in the late 1800s. When he's blinded in one eye in a quarry accident, he's afraid no woman will ever want to marry him. Kristy Greenfield's hometown in Illinois is becoming depleted of marriageable men as they all head west seeking their fortunes; will she end up growing old alone? Then Jim places a wife-wanted ad in the newspaper, beginning a sweet long-distance courtship with Kristy which leads to her making the momentous decision to head out west to marry him. The story of Jim and Kristy's courtship is engaging (no pun intended!) and the tale of Kristy's trip west is full of excitement and danger, and a large amount of work and research clearly went into this heartfelt book. Full review here.
Necromancer Awakening (The Mukhtaar Chronicles #1), Nat Russo
Necromancer Awakening is an interesting and original fantasy novel with a very different kind of magic that also makes some profound reflections on topics such as faith, redemption, priesthood, and the relationship between life and death. Nicolas, an archaeology student in Texas, is plagued by horrifying visions whenever he's in the presence of death - and especially in the wake of his adoptive father's funeral. The visions lead to him being swept from Texas to another world, where he discovers the reasons for his visions - he's a necromancer, a wizard-priest who uses the power of death to purify the dead. Full review here.
Demon Divided (Gallows, book 2) by Sharon Stevenson
Urban fantasy isn't my usual reading, but I really liked Blood Bound, book 1 of the Gallows series, so I decided to keep reading and I'm happy to say that I liked Demon Divided even more.
Demon-hunting twins Shaun and Sarah Gallows are back, trying to track down the vampire maker responsible for the vampire they have locked up in the basement. (Why you need a locked cage in the basement - to keep the vampire in, of course.) Along the way, Shaun finds himself being suspected of the grisly murder of a drug dealer, and Sarah is in thrall to the demon who is possessing the vampire in the basement (you thought regular vampires were bad...) - and that's just the beginning of their troubles! There's also serial-killing ex-vampire zombies (again, you thought regular vampires were bad!), a winsome human psychic who Shaun knows is the wrong girl for him but that doesn't seem to make any difference, Shaun and Sarah's mom (as scary as anything else they have to deal with!), the evil and corrupt Melissa from book 1 and her evil and corrupt dad, and a werewolf who just wants to be patted on the head and told "good doggy". It's lots of dark, gruesome fun, written in a clear, sophisticated style with an undercurrent of wit; one of my favorite lines is "He'd shifted into his furry skin and was looking a lot less feral than he had in human form, even if he did have a zombie arm hanging from his mouth." And Shaun, my favorite character, is back in fine curmudgeonly, junk-food-inhaling form.
I did have some trouble remembering things from the first book and working out what was going on and why - the author doesn't stop to just explain things, she trusts the reader to be smart enough to figure it out on their own - but after a while I got the hang of most of it, and where I didn't, I just went along for the ride anyway, trusting that Ms. Stevenson knows what she's doing and it'll all come together eventually. And what a fun ride it is. Recommended both for fans of urban fantasy and those who aren't sure if they even like urban fantasy.
One Crazy Night, an anthology by Nightshade Reads
Eight paranormal, fantasy, and urban fantasy authors have put their heads together and come up with this anthology of stories on the theme of how lives and even worlds can change in a single crazy night. Some of the stories are standalones; others are more like prologues or teasers for the authors' longer works, but all are exciting and enjoyable. They range from the lighthearted YA humor of "Love Magic" by Louise Nicks, where two teenage sisters wreak havoc on a high school dance with an ill-made love spell, to the reflective "The Recruit," by Sara Furlong Burr, in which an alcoholic firefighter, broken by his brother's death, tries to find the wherewithal to move on and do something about it, to the horror of "Bellona," Aoife Marie Sheridan's look at the backstory of the villainess from her Saskia trilogy. And lots of other great stories - the undersea paranormal "Elements" by M.H. Soars; the poignant dystopian paranormal "The Keymaker" by Teshelle Combs; frightening YA nightmare "The Lady in Black" by R. Holland; Emma Faragher's chilling legend "Necromancer Lineage"; and Sharon Stevenson's engaging and slightly creepy urban fantasy "Reanimator." (Though the anthology contains some YA selections, some graphic violence and horror content and minimally graphic sexual content makes it more suitable for older teens and adults.)
A highly recommended sampling of some fresh and exciting new voices in these genres - and the proceeds go to a very worthy cause, leukemia and lymphoma research. Definitely worth reading!
Find out more about the authors of Nightshade Reads and this anthology in this post.
To try to clear out the backlog of books on my Kindle a little, I decided to read one book for each letter from A to Z. So far I've made it through G (I'm currently reading H). Here's what I've read so far, with a few thoughts and links to the books/reviews on Goodreads.
First: please note, again, I am not a book reviewer and this is not a book review blog. I don't accept review requests (with very rare exceptions). I'm just an author who also likes to read, sharing things I've enjoyed reading.
The rules for my own personal challenge: The books have to already be on my Kindle (unless I get to a letter where I only have samples, then I can buy one of those books). If I don't finish reading the book, it doesn't count. Indie authors preferred.
Across A Moonlit Sea, Marsh Canham
Across a Moonlit Sea is old-school, over-the-top, swashbuckling, bodice-ripping (Isabeau goes through at least two or three shirts and Dante loses one or two as well) romance set in the age of gold-laden Spanish ships sailing from the New World and English privateers seeking their fortunes. Attacked by a Spanish fleet and betrayed by his partner, privateer Simon Dante and his crew are stranded at sea when they're rescued by a small merchant ship, captained by the colorful Captain Spence and his daughter Isabeau (Beau), who would rather steer a ship and draw maps than wear a dress. Exciting battles at sea and loads of steamy (but not overly graphic) romance ensue. (My review)
Bailin', Linton Robinson
Bailin' was really funny. How funny, you ask? I was sitting in the dentist chair, reading this on my Kindle while waiting for Lady Pain, er, the hygienist to come in and get to work, and laughing out loud instead of crying like I usually do. (I have very sensitive teeth. Really.)
So, we have Cole Haskins, a smooth-talking modern-day gunslinger who would rather live an easy life of holding up banks and armored cars than get a, you know, JOB, and his lover/getaway driver, former truck stop princess Bunny Beaumont, the brains in the outfit. Then we have the world's most inept drug smugglers, two-man motorcycle gang Flathead and Bogart (there are no brains in this outfit, except that Bogart has kind of an idiot savant genius for cobbling together dangerously fast vehicles that are unsafe at any speed, and Flathead at least has the self-preservation instinct to want to stay off of them). Then there's Alvin Hunstetter, the nervously larcenous city treasurer who makes off with the stadium fund and skips bail. Add in a good, honest bounty hunter (when the most upstanding citizen in the story is a bounty hunter, that kind of gives you an idea of what you're dealing with here), an insanely homicidal ninja bounty hunter, and some crooked city officials, throw them all together in an action-packed chase along the Texas-Mexico border, top off with a slyly humorous narrative voice, and you've got a wildly entertaining read that's impossible to put down. (My review)
Crimson, Warren Fahy
Big, sprawling, whimsical epic fantasy about a young prince, Trevin, who ascends to the throne after being told by his dying father that the color crimson and what he loves most will be his doom. The way Trevin chooses to deal with this prophecy seems to bring on the doom anyway and only the courage of an intrepid group of sailors and the love and devotion of his queen can save him and their world. (My review)
Darkmage, M.L. Spencer
Update 3/17: Some time after I reviewed this book, the author contacted me to very graciously thank me for the review and ask if I would like to beta-read the prequel, Darkstorm. Of course I was delighted to say yes! Darkstorm blew me away and satisfied all the questions and problems I had with the premise of Darkmage. Darkstorm is now available and Darkmage has been re-released, and I was also lucky enough to get to beta-read the third book in the series, Darkland.
Original review: I'm not really sure what to say about Darkmage. Epic fantasy, though very dark, in an interesting magical world, pretty well written. But I had a problem accepting the basic premise, that in a world where all life and civilization is threatened by an all-powerful Enemy, those best able to fight this enemy, the mages, would place themselves under a physically binding vow of non-violence - and what's more, the people threatened by the enemy would expect the mages to abide by this vow and, furthermore, would refuse to lift a finger in their own defense other than sending ragtag bands of convicts up to the front to serve as cannon fodder in holding the enemy off a little longer. The books explores one mage's decision to break that vow and fight.
Even though I had trouble with the premise, I can still say that if you're interested in a philosophical exploration of the question of whether vows of non-violence are worth it, and are up for reading a very long and dark but exciting fantasy, give Darkmage a try.
An Exercise in Futility, Steve Thomas
I enjoyed Steve Thomas's very funny Klondaeg books (reviewed here) and decided to give some of his other works a try. An Exercise in Futility is very different, serious, almost tragic (though not without a note of hope at the end). When the nomadic Gurdur tribes are threatened with conquest by the ruthless Empire to the south, young Ezekiel longs to join in the battle. Instead, his magical gifts dictate he go away for training to fight in a different way. His gift turns out to be for necromancy, which has obvious uses in war. But while any garden-variety necromancer can raise an army of the undead, it takes an extraordinary one to think of using his powers on himself - and on an entire culture. I liked An Exercise in Futility as much as the Klondaeg books, and have added more of Steve Thomas's work to my (ever-growing, despite my best efforts) reading list. (My review)
Flash Gold, Lindsay Buroker
Lindsay Buroker's Emperor's Edge series (and the Encrypted series that goes along with it) are favorites of mine. Flash Gold is the first book in a different series, set in an alternate steampunk/fantasy version of the Yukon Gold Rush. Kali is determined to win a dogsled race with her dogless sled and use the money to get away to someplace warmer and safer. The mysterious Cedar hires himself on as her bodyguard and "musher", which turns out to be a good thing when it seems like every villainous character in the west is after Kali and her secrets. Loved this, and I'm looking forward to reading more books in the series. It would also make a good addition to my Western With A Twist book collection.
Ghost Aria and Ghost Dagger, Jonathan Moeller
"G" is two stories set in the wonderful Ghost series, featuring Caina, the young assassin with a dark and terrible past and the ability to sense the sorcery that is causing so much trouble in her world. In Ghost Aria, Caina investigates a mysterious murder that takes place at the opera house where she works undercover as an assistant to the reigning diva. In Ghost Dagger, a tragic curse in a nobleman's house takes Caina on a nightmarish journey through her dreams. Mystery, danger, and magic abound in both stories. I highly recommend the Ghost series, and I'm also planning to check out Jonathan Moeller's many other series.
Now I'm on "H"; once I've read another handful of books I'll do another round-up.
Still working up to write the look back/look ahead post (I left my brain somewhere back between Christmas and New Year's and haven't found it yet), so here's another book review, that I actually wrote in November and never posted. (As a reminder, I'm not a book review blogger, and I almost never accept review requests. The following review is a rare exception, for reasons which will become clear.)
The Grind, by Nikki M. Pill
* * * * * (5 stars)
I read and reviewed The Tease, book 1 in the Darling Killer Trilogy, last summer and enjoyed it very much, so I was thrilled and honored when the author contacted me and asked if I would review an ARC of book 2, The Grind. I'm happy to say that once again, I very much enjoyed this book.
Anna Zendel is a disgraced therapist and a burlesque dancer who is being stalked by a serial killer. At the end of The Tease, it looked like the killer had been caught - but then another character drops a line of dialogue that turns everything around and makes you realize, no, the killer wasn't caught at all. In The Grind, Anna is trying to move on from the events in book 1. She's facing an ethics hearing to determine whether or not she will be allowed to continue practicing her profession and trying to put her burlesque troupe back together. The last thing she needs is for the killer to reappear, making demands along with the killings, and for one of her new troupe members to turn out to be psycho.
The story is suspenseful and engrossing, and at times heartbreaking, balanced out with Anna's dry humor - sometimes the only thing that's keeping her sane. I enjoyed getting to know her hippie father, whose mantras bear an uncanny resemblance to Beatles songs, and chewing my nails in delicious anxiety as I watched the character who may have revealed him/herself as the killer in the last book insinuate her/himself more closely into Anna's life. The members of her burlesque troupe (hers, because she's taken over as the director), both returning from book 1 and new in this book, are a colorful and likeable bunch, and the descriptions of their acts are entertaining. The story arc is masterfully constructed; I saw the suspect character playing more of a role in Anna's life, and started to doubt my instincts about that character, then at the end, after a claustrophobic and truly scary showdown against another villain, that character drops another line that's like a punch to the gut and I realized how close to disaster Anna really is. The last part of The Grind was another one of those where I stayed up way too late to see how it all turned out.
My only problem with the book is similar to the one I had with The Tease, the somewhat heavy-handed delivery of a social message. But that part is brief and soon left behind, and we return to the engaging story of Anna's attempts to deal with rabid reporters, suspicious police, psycho troupe members, her upcoming ethics hearing, tragic losses, and her growing feelings for someone whom she's afraid to love because she doesn't want him to get hurt, all while hoping to stay alive long enough to catch the real killer. It's a breathless, entertaining, well-written ride, and I am eagerly looking forward to the next book.
Working on the monthly (and New Year's) look back/look ahead post; in the meantime, here's a book for you to check out:
The Plains of Kallanash, by Pauline M. Ross
* * * * (4 stars)
The Plains of Kallanash takes us into a world where magic once existed but was lost in a great Catastrophe. The Plains at the heart of the world are now peopled by a civilization ruled by a mysterious, powerful, and omnipresent religion, which enforces a highly stratified social order governed by strict rules and customs. Group marriage is the norm among the nobility, or Karningholders, and the men of the Plains are engaged in a never-ending but carefully-regulated war against rampaging barbarians beyond their borders.
Quiet and gentle Mia, her sister-wife Tella, and their co-husbands Jonnor and Hurst enjoy a comfortable, stable life despite Mia's feelings of unrequited love for Jonnor, who has taken Tella as his primary wife, and Hurst's for Mia; as the junior partners in the marriage, they are forbidden to consummate their relationship without permission from the senior husband. When first one and then the other of the senior couple die under mysterious circumstances, Mia begins to ask too many questions, and finds herself banished into a world she never imagined. When Hurst undertakes to discover the truth, the lies on which their civilization is based are gradually revealed, bringing Hurst and others to the unavoidable conclusion that everything they know has to be overturned.
This is a very long book, with a lot going on. It starts out at a good pace, developing the complex relationships between the characters and the original, and cruel and chilling, society they live in (among other things, when a member of the nobility dies, his or her Companions, something between an adopted sibling and a servant, are put to death alongside them). The mystery deepens with the deaths in Mia's household until the shocking revelations that come in the wake of her own punishment. From there, the pacing and conflict sometimes sags, though we do get to see some fascinating glimpses of the Plains' ancient magical history. Hurst's discovery of the truth culminates in a cleverly-plotted rebellion, which brings in more surprising revelations about the world. The climax of the book seems incomplete, a little too easy and comfortable, and some key events are told at a distance. I would have liked to be more in the thick of things as they were worked out, and for the protagonists to experience more tension and hardship in the process. After the climax, most of the story threads are tied up nicely, with just a few left dangling for future stories set in the same world.
The romantic aspect takes an unexpected turn, as Mia finds herself torn between two lovers (cue cheesy 70s pop song, or rather, don't). The unconventional solution proves satisfactory to all involved; however, I'm somewhat more conventional and straightlaced in my romance preferences and was a little taken aback. The book contains some mildly graphic sex scenes, including some menage-y bits.
The writing style is clear, smooth, and literate. The author doesn't over-explain the strange customs and other alien aspects of her world, but does give the reader enough clues to have a comfortable grasp of what's going on.
On the whole, The Plains of Kallanash is an enjoyable epic fantasy in a highly original setting combining echoes of an ancient magical past with surprisingly advanced technology such as skyships, with a mysterious history, likeable, engaging characters, and an unconventional romance. Recommended for fantasy readers who want something a little different.
The Chocolatier's Wife, by Cindy Lynn Speer
Really lovely fantasy-romance-mystery. When William is seven years old, the magical spell used to choose future spouses reveals that his future bride is Tasmin, a newborn baby girl from the magical and dangerous north. Despite his family's misgivings, William begins a correspondence with Tasmin, sending her letters and gifts. As they grow, William to become a sea captain of some renown and Tasmin to become an herb mage and teacher, his kindness and honesty win her heart even though they haven't yet met. So when Tasmin hears that William, now retired from the sea to open a chocolate shop, has been arrested for murder, she refuses to believe it, and sets out to rescue him. Together, William and Tasmin discover a nefarious plot to destroy William's family and, although romance is considered an irrelevant frivolity when it comes to marriage, fall in love.
Beautifully written, interesting magic, engaging and likeable characters (except for the ones you love to hate! But even they have multiple dimensions, and aren't just cardboard cutouts). The world is also interesting, a setting reminiscent of late 18th/early 19th century Europe. I always appreciate fantasy that isn't set in the standard pseudo-medieval setting. The mystery is well-plotted and kept me guessing. My only quibble is that some of the tensions between Tasmin and William, such as Tasmin's jealousy, seem contrived, as though they were put in just to keep the relationship from seeming too "perfect". It isn't necessary; the relationship between William and Tasmin is charming and quirky enough without those elements, and they don't really fit the characters and story.
The Chocolatier's Wife is sweet romance, with some sexual references but no on-screen sex.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Chocolatier's Wife, and highly recommend it for those who like romance in their fantasy, or fantasy in their romance, along with an intriguing mystery.
Secrets (the Guardian Trilogy #1), by Liz Schulte
Exciting and entertaining paranormal suspense/romance. After Olivia has a chance encounter with a handsome, compelling stranger, frightening and tragic things begin to happen all around her. In the meantime, she and the stranger find themselves irresistably attracted to each other - against both their better judgments - and Olivia is faced with a destiny she doesn't want and a heartbreaking choice.
This kept me reading to find out what happens next. It's clear from the beginning that Holden is no ordinary human; the hints and suggestions that are dropped during the chapters in Holden's point of view make an entertaining puzzle, and, for me, the big reveal comes at exactly the right point in the story.
I liked the alternating sections in Olivia's and Holden's points of view, overlapping so we see the events of the story through each character's eyes. Most scenes aren't repeated; usually it's done so that a chapter takes place in one character's point of view, then the next chapter overlaps the end of that bit of the action so we get the other character's reflections and reaction as the story moves on. I thought that was very well done.
The characters of Holden and Olivia and engaging and likable, as is Olivia's best friend Juliet. The other mysterious guy involved, Quintus, doesn't have quite as much personality, he seems kind of smug and perfect, but that seems to be on purpose - he's supposedly a force for good but without real empathy for human emotions. I did have a little trouble with Olivia; she seemd kind of stubborn and prickly, with a tendency to sometimes make not very smart decisions. This is something I've noticed in contemporary urban fantasy/paranormal (though I'll admit I haven't read a lot in the genre) - orneryness being used to show that a female character is "strong". However, I did like how thoughtful she is in evaluating the realities of who Holden is and if she can deal with that. And I liked it that when confronted with Holden's supernatural identity, she was able to accept it without denying what's been right in front of her all along. It bugs me when characters refuse to accept the magic or supernatural things that are happening even when they see them happening right in front of them.
There's some pretty depressing stuff that happens in the book, which made it a little hard to get through, and the ending is inconclusive. But I enjoyed it enough to download the sample for the next book right away.
See my main Clean Out Your eReader post for reading list and review links.
Snowbound, by Mark P. Kolba
Exciting fantasy short story. Lleyyanir, an elven messenger, has a vital message to deliver; at stake are the lives of thousands of innocent people. But a shortcut through the mountains turns into disaster as he's trapped in a cave with no way out. Honor struggles with necessity as he must decide whether to open the message he was given - an unforgivable crime - and learn the truth of the errand he was sent on.
Tense and exciting, with a real sense of claustrophobia as Lleyyanir comes to terms with his plight. Lleyyanir and the other characters are distinct and interesting, and just enough of the world and the back story is given to fill in the blanks without having to wade through lots of infodumping. Like all of Mr. Kolba's short fiction, the world is interesting and the characters engaging. I've enjoyed all of his short stories I've read so far, and I'm lookng forward to reading his longer works.
Lady of the Woods, by Mark P. Kolba
Cute story about magical beings living in the woods, and how sometimes a threat is only a threat if you think it is. Kind of short on plot, but as with all of Mr. Kolba's short fiction, I enjoyed spending time in his fantasy world with the engaging, interesting characters he writes.
And while I'm at it, here's a plug for Mark P. Kolba's other work. I've read "Dragon's Draught" and "The Power to Heal", and enjoyed them both muchly, and I just now bought "The Star of Amalore". You can also get all five of his stories in the collection Fantastical Tales. I'm also looking forward to reading Awakening from the Shadows, the first novel in his Mirynthir Chronicles series, and he also has an interesting-looking thriller out, Shattered.
See my main Clean Out Your eReader post for reading list and review links.
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