A #WitchyWednesdays Book Review this #WyrdAndWonder | “Trans Witch: College of Secrets” by E. Chris Garrison

Posted Wednesday, 18 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , , , 0 Comments

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#WitchyWednesdays is a curated collection of #WitchyReads this Wyrd And Wonder on Jorie Loves A Story. I have long held a fascination with Paranormally inclined stories involving witches and wizards as well as magic schools. I read either Contemporary or Historical releases as well as completely fantastical worlds featuring a Witchy premise and storyline. This year for Wyrd And Wonder, I’m focusing on specific stories I’ve been wanting to share and discuss either during our annual event in May OR our sister event #SpooktasticReads in October. Every Wednesday there will be a new Witchy story to discover as I share my readerly adventures into Witchy Fiction this month. I am considering keeping this a mainstay of focus both during May & October for our events for Wyrd And Wonder.

In regard to the name I chose for this showcase of reviews, I sort of stumbled onto the name when I was deciding which day of the week I wanted to feature Witchy Reads this year. I thought it was original until I ran a search online, I saw others use the #WitchyWednesdays tag however, I did not source an origin of the tag – only a collective recognition for it attributed to different creative projects or venues whilst I didn’t find an actual meme origin for it on a blog or website. If someone knows who started it – kindly let me know so I can add attribution.

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Acquired Book By: I have been a reader of Ms Chris’s stories since my first year as a book blogger when I first discovered her Tipsy Fairy Tale trilogy with “Blue Spirit”. Over the years, this led to our friendship as we’re both writers and avid readers. I’ve completed my journey with the Tipsy Fairy Tale trilogy last year during Wyrd And Wonder (see also Review) whilst I gifted myself a copy of “Trans Witch” (in paperback) to celebrate Wyrd And Wonder, Year 4. Whilst I was about to dive into “Trans Witch” the author happily surprised me with an audiobook copy of the novel. Thereby I shifted from reading the story to reading whilst listening to the narrator narrate the story! One of my favourite things to do is to read and hear a narrator’s performance, so this made my final selection for Wyrd And Wonder extra special last year!

Likewise, I have showcased the collective works of Ms Chris over the years – you can read my reactions to the omnibus edition of the Road Ghosts trilogy (see also Review); listen to our vlog interview or revisit my review for the second Tipy Fairy Tale novel “Restless Spirit”. I also featured a guest post about her joy of participating in cosplay.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Trans Witch” direct from the author E. Chris Garrison in exchange for an honest review. Whilst the paperback copy I was reading whilst I listened to the audiobook edition was a self-purchase of my own. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I was originally hoping to read & listen to this novel during our 4th Year of Wyrd And Wonder (in 2021) however, I was only able to begin the story last May whilst I re-attempted to listen to it during #SpooktasticReads that following October during our sister event for Wyrd And Wonder.

Every year, I feel as if I have a lovely road to walk settling into stories, rooting out new voices in Fantasy and finding myself captured by the stories & characters I’ve read along the route of the event. This year what is brilliant is being able to curl inside stories writ by authors I already know are my top favourites as well as being able to gather books by authors I have genuinely been curious about reading for several years and of whom, I’ve featured their stories in spotlights on my blog but never had the chance to properly read until now.

This was a special addition to my reading stack in 2021, as I hadn’t been aware of “Trans Witch” until just before Wyrd And Wonder began. Thereby when I went on a personal #bookhaul binge to bring more of Ms Chris’s stories into my personal library, I *knew!* Trans Witch had to be among them because I fell in love with the premise quite immediately! Who wouldn’t?

Set within the same Skye-Blue universe I’ve been reading all along, “Trans Witch” is currently a stand-alone novel without a series attachment, however, word on the winds has this earmarked as a potential series but whether we see it develop into one is something we’ll have to wait to find out! Be sure to message the author via Twitter if you’ve picked up a copy of “Trans Witch” and if you’ve enjoyed it – let her know if you’d like more of this world & character in other words! As previous novels were once one-offs too and were developed into series – including the Tipsy Fairy Tale!

Also: leave your comments for Ms Chris on this post as she’ll be checking for your notes throughout Wyrd And Wonder!!

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On my connection to Ms Chris (aka E. Chris Garrison):

My path first crossed with Ms Chris through a podcast sponsored by an Indie Speculative Fiction publisher which led me to hosting blog tours which celebrated her stories. Since our first encounter with each other, we’ve developed a friendship I am blessed to have and I appreciate getting to know a bit more about an author whose not only developing a unique style in the world of Fantasy but is receptive to the thoughts readers have as they gain impression by reading the stories themselves.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Ms Chris through our respective blogs, the twitterverse, the podcast world, and privately. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. For more information, I disclosed a bit more on my first 10 Bookish, Not Bookish Thoughts (read No.7!).

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Why I love reading E. Chris Garrison stories:

Ms Chris has incredible continuity – not just through the Tipsy Fairy Tale series but through all the stories which interconnect into this series as well. It is quite the large universe of stories and characters (as the Road Ghosts series is inter-threaded as well) – seeing how she’s brought everyone back to centre in this story was just wicked brilliant! I even loved seeing Frannie again as I felt she had a bum rap all along and it was good to see her step into her own so to speak at the height of the frenzy! I am so grateful I had the chance to read Blue Spirit all those years ago because it lead me into a series I am blessed to have read start to finish.

The author is transgender which gives her an inside edge towards how to write stories that are highlighting characters like Skye who are trying to lead lives without their sexuality, gender or orientation leading to prejudicial exclusions inside their everyday lives. This is quite apparent when the laws currently in place in the author’s home state are mentioned in Restless Spirit in regards to marriage equality as well as the perceptions of how some of Skye’s friends or friends of her friends view the relationship she has with Annabelle.

The relationship with Skye and Annabelle is more fleshed out and focused on in Mean Spirit – I was celebrating the joy of seeing this inclusive of the narrative because at the heart of the series, I always wanted to see Skye happy and settled into a relationship which was a good fit for her as a character. She’s had such a hard-won journey until now, it was nice to see something in her life was working out. Ms Chris tucked us into those quiet moments between the two women in love and gave us a wink and nod into how their lives were merging together in a way that I think even surprised Skye. It was a wonderful f/f romance inside a paranormal suspense set within an Urban Fantasy world.

I consider this series pro-positive for both LGBTQIA+ and Allies alike, as everything pertinent to this side of Skye’s life is told organically and shifts between being humourous and serious, depending on the nature of the exchange or the situation at hand. This is positive I think as it has a very realistic vibe attached to it. Skye is not afraid to speak her mind or to live her authentic truth, even if others are not as prepared to accept her on her terms, she still lives her life owning the truth she has within her and that’s something to applaud. She has her faults (who doesn’t?) but her strengths are her willingness to take-on challenges head-on and remain faithful to those she cares about whilst sorting out mysteries of the unexplained.

This is definitely an author to bookmark if your seeking #diverselit and stories of Equality where all characters are realistically written and openly honest about expressing their thoughts, views and feelings.

-quoted from my review of Mean Spirit

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A #WitchyWednesdays Book Review this #WyrdAndWonder | “Trans Witch: College of Secrets” by E. Chris GarrisonTrans Witch: College of Secrets
Subtitle: Can Lily conjure the clue's to find her missing wife?
by Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison) of Silly Hat Books
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Anne Rosario
Source: Direct from Author, Purchased | Personal Library
Narrator: Danielle Muething

Professor Lily Shelley is frantic to find her wife Penny, who vanished two weeks ago. No one else seems to be looking very hard, not the police or even Penny’s family. As Lily refuses to give up hope, she continues searching for clues, even as she teaches English at Moraine University. In her search, she stumbles into a magical world; a college for wizards hidden in forgotten places at the University. Her favorite students come to her aid, helping her retrace Penny’s steps to learn the secrets of the School of Applied Metaphysics – as well as her newfound powers – in hopes of rescuing her wife.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Paranormal Urban Fantasy, Portal Fantasy, Sci-Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Genre-bender

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1953763280

ASIN: B0959B64W9

Also by this author: Mean Spirit

Published by Silly Hat Books

on 27th February, 2021

Format: Audiobook | Digital, Paperback Edition

Length: 7 hours and 5 minutes (unabridged)

Pages: 212

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Visit the Trans Witch page via Silly Hat Books

Converse on Twitter: #TransWitch & #SillyHatBooks

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a few notes about this world:

I am finding myself loving worlds within worlds – Ms Chris has the knack for creating this effect by the veils in her Skye-Blue-universe because of how Urban her Fantasy is and how it is generally set within and behind well-known cities throughout the Midwest; in particular, Indiana. She crafts her narratives against that urban setting and then, lets the fantastical bits march into her story! It has such a classy and clever effect, because you can honestly start to muse about what it might be like to ‘be there’ because ‘there’ is actually ‘now’ in our everyday world. With just a few slight paranormally inclined ‘extras’ to give you something to shiver over! Laughs.

This hidden college within a college had their own sections of organising their students – there were three groups: Drake, Basilisk and Wyvern. For those who are familiar you’ll already know what is being referenced but for those of us who are a bit unaware of certain Fantasy terms and descriptions; each of the groups is referenced to be named for a particular kind of dragon. I had hoped when they were first disclosed more information could have been gleamed as I felt there was a hidden history here behind the groups and of course, why they were named after a dragon.

And, of course, I was rewarded with that further knowledge on their behalf but Ms Chris makes you wait for it – because in the end, I understood why. This is definitely a story about a character who undertakes a Quest and part of that Quest was unearthing hidden histories of this magical world but it was rooted in a journey Lily had to take herself before she could understand that deeper history of what united the world.

my review of trans witch:

Trans Witch opens with a scene wherein Lily is teaching her college Lit class to an audience who is both accepting of the fact she’s transgender and not accepting of that fact either. It’s a mixed crowd in other words. There is one group of students who accept her through and through and their also identifying as LGBTQ+ which was refreshing. You don’t get to know as much about them until you read further into the story – where they share more about themselves and how they identify which I felt was a very organic way to approach it. It showed how comfortable they were around Professor S (ie. what they officially call Lily) and also, confident amongst each other to share and be open about their identities.

During the class, Lily has to defend the usage of her pronouns, explain to her audience as much as the reader why pronouns are important and of course, the difficulty in being misgendered. Ms Chris approaches this topic with straight-forward information but also with a sense of humour she’s known for writing into her stories. If this is the first transgender character someone is reading by a transgender author they will soon feel at ease in the context of the story by how approachable Ms Chris wrote the opening bridge.

knew we were going to find a hidden passage – I could intuit that moment out of the fact I’ve read so much of her stories now, I can find myself understanding the nudges she’s giving us as readers! It was such a lovely sequence, too! Especially as I love when writers use Science and Metaphysical descriptions in their stories – this time, of course, the fact you can bend the will of a physical object and find a magical way forward is right up my readerly street! What I hadn’t realised though is what that portal would reveal once Lily walked through it! Oohh my!

Of course there would be ogres as bodyguards and bouncers! I mean, why wouldn’t there be?! I had such a lot of fun listening to this part of the novel – its been half an age since I’ve had any ogre characters in my life and the way these two spoke to each other reminded me of characters straight out of Alice in Wonderland. As they nearly spoke in a method of understanding only the two of them would understand. When the ogres finally delivered Lily to the Administrators, you could sense something was amiss! Not only was Secretary Sample a weasel of a man as he just was the sort you wouldn’t trust even if someone told you otherwise but the Dean, herself was a secretive lady who seemed to try to keep everything tucked under her hat, so to speak. She was pleasant enough (of course) but there was something about her that just made me sit up and look further into her character because whatever was making me raise a red flag, it was going to be important lateron in the story, that much I was for certain!

I was a bit surprised Lily agreed to the censorship spell to be placed on her but then again, what other options she had which wouldn’t alter herself afterwards from their interference on her behalf was beyond me. The ways in which it was described is that you had to travel in and out of yourself – where your mind was as confused as you were once the procedure was over as it zapped every ounce of energy out of you by the time it concluded. This was a necessary evil for Lily in order to keep access to this part of the college within her college (as this world has a duality to it; between the regular students and the wizardly students) but part of me felt like she was going against her own conscience by accepting the terms as they were given.

Shortly after, we found her having pizza with her sister Ellen which rounded out the back-story about her parents and how they weren’t accepting of her marriage to Penny nor of the fact she’s transgender. I loved hearing her sister Ellen rally behind her and explain why the stance their parents have against Lily doesn’t sit well with her and why given how they were raised why that was a hard pill to swallow. Ellen is both supportive and encouraging; considering how anguished Lily is over missing Penny right now, I was thankful Ellen was nearby. Ellen provided a sounding board for Lily and one that was equally beneficial. I will say Ms Chris outdid herself in adding in cheeky humour – as that censorship rule truly came out in full force whilst the sisters talked! And, yet, there was a small loophole in that conversation, too, which I felt might open a door for Lily to find Penny.

Ooh! The Transit King* makes an appearance!! I was overjoyed seeing he was made a part of this story because when it comes to transportation, I had a feeling he might be brought into the narrative. However, as it was happening – I was a bit distracted thinking about another part of the plot and I hadn’t even connected to dots that he might arrive now when Lily needed a rideshare! In prime TK fashion, he wants to lend a hand to those in need – knowing him better now that I’ve read the other series, especially Mean Spirit, I knew he was being honourable with Lily in his request for her to reach out to him if she felt she was in over her head! What was further curious though is how he had insight into the metaphysical college but then again, all magic has a conduit of synchronicity at some point. You can’t be touched by magic and clueless about what others in magic are doing – especially if something they’re doing is writ with harm.

The first spell and enchantment we were able to see is how Penny was able to communicate with Lily. Without spoiling anything – I liked the thoughtfulness Ms Chris put into that particular exchange and how realistic it was to believe it could happen because of what Penny did to make it happen. It was one of those moments where you wish time could fully suspend itself and where you could hold onto a moment longer than what it was meant to yield. Penny gave Lily a few thoughtful clues towards why she was missing and how Lily could find her but without any specifics which I felt was necessary to ensure their mutual safety. It also gave you something to mull over yourself as Lily continued her quest to find Penny – about what was preventing Penny from returning and what could plausibly be so secretive that required this kind of spell to communicate with one’s spouse?

The library fascinated me the most. It was built to come alive in different sensory explorations for the reader and viewer alike. It was here where Lily met a rather unusual woman in charge until she realised she only wanted what was best for everyone even if getting a read on her was a bit difficult overall. It was here where we see Lily truly enchanted by the depths of the library – how fish are involved in data storage and how there is another way to ‘experience’ History than mere books alone! It was a wondrous sequence and I felt right at home as I always had an affinity for spending time in libraries myself. I honestly could have seen myself as the librarian of this library!

Whilst Lily was being given her duties as the assistant librarian by her new boss there was a moment where she was able to experience part of the library for herself. As Ms Chris oft places pop cultural references into her novels, this particular moment reminded me of the holodecks on Enterprise (ie. Star Trek: The Next Generation). Not entirely of the same construction because this is a magical library set in a magical college – however, the essence of the experience for Lily was quite the same reward: living through a moment which felt tangible, real and alive. It was within that experience she was given a second moment all to herself which involved a very philosophical and mystic water dragon.

As Lily stated to undertake her librarian duties, she had a conversation with Jesse which involved morphology and Ms Chris did a wonderful job of redirecting the concept of morphology into a conversation about transition and being transgender. There are different moments throughout the story where she discusses topics about being trans and what it is like to be transgender in this world – as even though it has a magical centre, there are still real issues which affect both the magical and mundane of this world. (mundane is the word attached to the non-magicals) I felt it was a wicked good way to continue the conversation within the novel about the subject but also, to offer informative insight from an #ownvoices writer. It became an emotional scene as your heart was touched by the greater impact of what was being said and disclosed.

There is a beautiful scene where Ms Chris explored what it would have been like if Lily could have been living her authentic self when she was younger – it truly expounded on how Lily saw herself vs how society perceives her and the importance of self-care and self-advocacy in regard to knowing who you are even if others cannot accept the truth. More than a scene actually as it was a bit longer lasting than a singular moment but when it happens, the beauty of that moment is knowing how important it is to have this kind of representation in stories for transgender persons to see themselves as they are without labels and negativity as constants in their lives. And, that is what I loved most about how Ms Chris approached writing this story – all the LGBTQ+ characters are represented living their authentic selves and with less issues they face in our world as within this world most people accept them without prejudice. Ms Chris does this in such an organic way too… I just felt like I transported myself there and became part of Lily’s world. Plus, visually she excelled again at giving us a wicked fantastical world just outside our own and let us walk beside magic whilst seeing our reality so close to it too.

When Lily chooses to start auditing classes alongside the Queer Quartet, things start to get even more interesting! Ms Chris has woven a story of a world ‘within’ a world – wherein, she’s layered this academic community within the Skye-universe whilst owning to its own heritage and cultural impact on the wizards and witches who attend SOAM. SOAM itself is a veilled campus within the greater University community where Lily and Penny teach and work. On that level, the joy of course is seeing how Ms Chris chose to create this fantastical experience for us – from the layout of the dorms (which coincidently reflect those who join the different groups therein: Drake, Basilisk and Wyvern) whilst I was most fascinated by the underground quad and garden!! Which proved that sometimes the best magic are the illusions of enchantment which draw your eye into the illusion itself.

Yet, it was Lily’s first magical breakthrough as a witch which delighted me on so many levels! It was a course studying the usefulness of found objects and how those found objects can become manipulated through magic. The visuals and the reactions of the Professor in that class are just classic because of the innocence of Lily’s own reaction to her breakthrough and of course, ours as readers for how vividly awesome magic can be as your first experience of harnessing it!

Of course, not everything is positive about this experience for Lily, as she soon learns about the Dean and her closed-minded views about the trans community. I felt Ms Chris handled one particular scene where it all came to a head with the Dean and Lily very well; especially considering the topic of their conversation and the fact, others were present as it was a dinner scene at SOAM. Your heart immediately goes out to Lily and the hard bit of course, was knowing that there are people like Dean Wheeler in our world who simply cannot accept the differences of others and choose to take a very pointedly prejudicial view of the world.

The Queer Quartet play an integral role in the story – as we peer into this adventure from a perspective of five – shifting points of view from each of the Quartet members (ie. Aiden, Hannah, Cameron and Jesse) as well as Lily’s own perspective herself as she undertakes the continued search for Penny. As such, our knowledge of SOAM – both as a magical school and of the history of wizardry and witchcraft in this world overall expands, we become more aware of the sinister threats which seek to destroy the good of the world, too. This is a layered story – wherein, it isn’t just rooted in elevating magic through education and practice but rather explores the balance between seeking wisdom and the overt control some might choose to use over others which effectively bridges magic against free will. I loved that portion of the novel – as Ms Chris painted such a strong portrait of what happens when memory and reality blur to reveal the larger truths which some might take pains to hide and omit in order to further their own gains.

Whilst at the same time, there are many lovely fantastical treats for us all – from the kind-hearted spirit of Naille the elf, to the quirkily charismatic Transit King to Shanice who was a character who came into the story towards the end and of whom, I felt should be one of the lead characters in a sequel if one were to become developed lateron. She was a lively addition to the cast and yet, I felt we only partially knew of her history and talent. She, of course, anchoured us through the secreted sections of the story – of where Ms Chris waited to reveal certain bits of the story which were most satisfying for us as readers to reach in the final chapters.

The dialogue and the conversations throughout the story allowed the reader to sit up straighter and think harder about what was being discussed – as it wasn’t all black and white on the level that Ms Chris wanted to offer as many perspectives on these topics as she could – to give the reader a chance to choose for themselves which side of the issues they wanted to support and thus, giving everyone a chance to choose their own path to walk. I especially enjoyed the final sequencing – where everything we’ve waited to see happen finally does and even in that part of the story, Ms Chris had a way of surprising me as the supportive cast were the faculty of SOAM and I must say, they surprised me a bit by how they reacted in that final moment.

Whilst for those who love Fantasy, the visuals and the loveliness of how this world can expand itself into different portals of life and magical worlds was a feast of joy. I loved how all of it felt organically real and set just outside of our own line of sight, too! Similar to why I loved reading the Tipsy Fairy Tale trilogy. You can walk into this world and feel as if you’ve been granted a new license to see a part of your world you couldn’t see previously and feel humbly blessed for the journey. I felt there was more to see and explore inside this world, too and based on how it concludes – I knew there was more than a few doors left open for Ms Chris to thread into a new story as well. I’ll be waiting for that day (if it arrives) but until then, this was such an uplifting read – both through the final vision Ms Chris has for it and the narration on behalf of Danielle Muething.

NOTE: (*) The Transit King is a central character of the Tipsy Fairy Tale series – of which last Wyrd And Wonder I shared my third review of the trilogy: “Blue Spirit” (book one), “Restless Spirit” (book two) and “Mean Spirit” (book three). It was such an emotional ending for me as a reader as I was truly connected to the trilogy!

On the fantastical writing styling of ms chris (e. chris garrison):

As foresaid, I hadn’t known about Trans Witch previously – I stumbled across the release when I was grabbing the books (in paperback) I was missing from her collective works to read (initially, in 2021 but now in 2022). I knew most of those releases were Science Fiction stories and I’d be reading and/or listening to them in November for @SciFiMonth, however, Trans Witch stood out to me quite immediately! The cover art was beyond alluring but it was the premise which hooked me! Who wouldn’t want to travel into that kind of portal of a world? On the book’s page via her author website I learnt what inspired the story itself and I must admit, I was even more excited! She’s undertaking a school for witches and wizards and knowing how much she has inspired me to read Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Fantasy over the years, this felt like such a wicked good ‘next read’ for me!!

Lily is a bit of a fish out of water in Trans Witch and I am loving following her journey – especially as she has to deal with so much grief before she’s able to get solid answers to anything she enquires about in regards to her wife Penny! You’d think they’d have been a bit more forthright about those details but after the Queer Quartet (as named in the book, a group of LGBTQ+ friends of Lily’s who are also her students) explained the rules and laws of this world to Lily, I had a feeling those reasons and others were what was adding to the embargo on information for Lily!

The emotions Ms Chris has knitted into this story are beyond real – they etch into your heart and your soul; plus, the layers of depth she explores throughout Lily’s pursuit of the truth is incredible. There are nuances of their relationship even whilst Penny is absent which speak to the strength of their marriage and with just enough comedic bits thrown in for good measure to break the tensions which arise, too! I have always enjoyed her pop cultural references in her novels and was thrilled to bits to see those continuing in TransWitch too. Especially as Lily is such a relatable woman – she is a fierce companion for her students, encourages keeping positive people in her orbit and she lives with the daring spirit of believing not only in herself but in what cannot be seen as well. As a lot of this story was built upon a ‘leap of faith’ in regards to how Lily enters into the magical realms and how she continued to seek justice and truth for Penny. She’s a brilliant heroine in other words and I just loved walking with her on this adventure.

I loved the access we’re given into this world – of how Ms Chris layered the ‘world within the world’ so to speak and gave us such a license of exploration! I loved the nuanced touches of observation, too, such as how she set the world and dressed it for our eyes – giving us a strong impression about how a University can be more than it seems and how the magical elements don’t have to be too fantastical to be real. I found the shape of this world to be amazingly encompassing – as just when you felt something might be more ordinary than extraordinary, Ms Chris took you on such a wicked journey into the unknown. It was finding those bits and seeing her vision for those moments which enchanted me the most. That and the fact, I really loved the journey and the quest she envisioned for Lily; as it was twofold the whole time — finding out about Penny, her wife and sorting out her own path as a woman who had a few secrets of her own which would revival the secrets of the college!

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#EqualityInLit – On being a voice for LGBTQIA+:

The author is transgender which gives her an inside edge towards knowing how to write stories which are showcasing characters like Lily who are trying to lead lives without their sexuality, gender or orientation leading to prejudicial exclusions inside their everyday lives.

I consider this story pro-positive for both LGBTQIA+ and Allies alike, as everything pertinent to how Lily and her wife’s lives are presented throughout Trans Witch is lovingly inclusive. This is a work of #ownvoices which alongside Ms Chris’s Trans-Continental series offers readers a chance to read a story writ by a transgender author writing about transgender lives. She is very open within the context of this story to discuss why pronouns are important (and the aftereffects of being misgendered), the issues the trans community deals with regularly as well as topics and subjects about what it is like to be transgender. Ms Chris especially shines a light on all of this when Lily and the Dean have a discussion during dinner and the Dean’s personal views about Lily as a transwoman are discussed.

I felt the way in which she included these topics felt very organic and in-line with the story itself where the reader has a better understanding about everything discussed and disclosed. Especially if they are haven’t had the chance to know someone who is transgender or if they have heard of the term but didn’t know what it meant to be trans.

This is definitely an author to bookmark if your seeking #diverselit and stories of Equality where all characters are realistically written and openly honest about expressing their thoughts, views and feelings. It is a diverse cast of characters wherein everyone is given a chance to introduce themselves and let readers see who they are without prejudice.

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Seeking the fantastical:

→ Witches and Wizards

→ Ogres

→ Water Dragon

→ Hidden Portals

→ Censorship and ID tracking

→ The Transit King (from the Tipsy Fairy Tales)

→ Magic and Enchantments and all sorts of fantastical moments

Ms Chris broaches the idea behind censorship (of what can be said or not said) as well as ID tracking (similar to the RFID technology today) which are both hot topics in our 21st Century world. I was thankful she included both topics into the storyline as it is something that should be discussed especially in regards to people needing to choose for themselves if they wanted to be tagged and tracked or whether they felt it violated their civil rights. In regards to censorship, I don’t think I need to mention how important it is to keep our civil liberties in our lives.

I love whenever I find a character or element of a story or series inclusive into a new story or series by the same author. This time round, Ms Chris treated me to revisiting a character I had loved in her Tipsy Fairy Tales trilogy which is of course, the Transit King! He’s such a curious character because he tends to be useful and yet he’s crafty and cagey, too! He doesn’t reveal everything he knows but he is useful and helpful all the same. I felt his arrival into Lily’s life was bang-on brilliant, but it was the knowledge he departed on their ride which was most useful.

The magic, enchantments and all sorts of fantastical elements and moments within this story were definitely created by a writer who loves these kinds of stories herself and knows exactly what kinds of things a reader would like to see inside a story of this nature! You feel so dearly comfortable exploring this world – the texture of it is very well-thought out and it is a joy to discover bits of it as you move through the chapters and/or listen to the narration as it reveals itself slowly but with a purpose you’ll understand in the end.

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Trans Witch (audiobook) by E. Chris Garrison

Follow the narrator: @DMNarrates | Site

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In regards to the audiobook directly:

I am appreciative of Ms Jess providing a cursory outline of how best to articulate my listening hours on behalf of this audiobook and the others I shall be blogging about or reviewing in future. I’ve modified the suggestions to what I felt were pertinent to respond too on my own behalf as well as keeping to the questions I felt were relevant to share.

Number of Times I’ve heard the Narrator(s):

This is my first time listening to Danielle Muething. Previously I have listened to Ms Chris’s narrator for the Trans-Continental series voiced by Angel Clark. I’ve listened to “Girl in the Gears” which is the first story in that series however, this is my first time listening to Ms Muething narrate one of her stories. This coming @SciFiMonth (November, 2022) I’ll be releasing reviews for several of Ms Chris’s novels – including the audiobooks for the Trans-Continental series.

Regards to the Narrator’s Individual Character performances:

Lily: She is soft spoken but has a lot of confidence behind her words. I warmed to her instantly because of how approachable she is but also how vulnerable she is within the story. She wears her emotions on the surface of her heart, which is also very relatable, but it also gives lovely insight into who she is as a person and as a wife whose devasted by losing connection to her beloved.

Dean Wheeler: Her voice reminded me of why I love listening to British narrators – however, the way in which Ms Muething interpreted her character was fabulous! She had such a control about her person, and I knew she was keeping secrets from Lily. She just did not seem like someone you should trust outright but take what they tell you into consideration for further enquiry lateron. She had a far sinister side of her personality which I felt was equally well performed.

Secretary Sample: His voice matched his vile personality. He was full of snark and discontempt for people who were (in his eyes) non-magical. He didn’t like Lily on sight, and I had a feeling they mutually wanted to give each other a wide berth. And, yet, like other characters in similar stories – he had a duality to his personality, and he was definitely one who upheld his principles even if those take a bit longer to unearth and see where he honestly stands in the face of adversity.

The Queer Quartet: Jesse, Cameron, Hannah and Aiden: Each of them were well-represented in voice as even their tones of presence and how they articulated themselves in the story were altered from one another to lend the illusion there were four persons in the room rather than one! This is one of the hardest effects to pull off and this lovely narrator nailed it for me! I love when a narrator can give such a layered performance wherein it sounds and feels as if you’re listening to a larger cast performing through the story itself. These were the essential characters supporting Lily throughout her journey and each of them brought something unique to the storyline.

The characters in the background:

The SOAM ogres: I had a lot of smirks and laughs about the ogres sent to march Lily to their ‘boss lady’ because of how they talked and expressed themselves! I haven’t read or watched any stories with ogres since Shrek (and the sequels thereafter) but these two were classically lovely because of how innocent they talked, how their sense of logic made the most sense to them and of course, how they kept trying to keep Lily ‘silent’. The way Ms Muething voiced their characters was brill because you could immediately connect their voice to their persons, and it had such a keen effect towards ‘seeing them’ without seeing them if you know what I mean? Honestly…. she nailed it!

Ellen: Lily’s sister – her voice was blessedly altered from Lily’s as I was hoping it would sound as if we were listening to two sisters speaking to each other and blessedly that is exactly the effect you have in your ears as you listen to this story! She’s the supportive sister and the shoulder Lily can lean on when she needs someone to listen. They’ve had a few issues in the past – which Ms Chris hinted about in the story especially when it came to Lily’s transition but what translates through how Ellen was performed is how unconditionally she loves her sister Lily and how worried she was becoming of her due to Penny’s disappearance. She also has a bit of spunk too her and a rebellious side which I found brilliant.

Transit King: His voice sounded just like I thought it would sound and that doesn’t happen very often! I haven’t even heard the audiobook for Blue Spirit yet but ooh boy. Ms Muething truly brought his voice to life and how she managed to make his impression sound just as I heard him in my own mind as I read the Tipsy Fairy Tale trilogy is incredible!

How the story sounded to me as it was being Read: (theatrical or narrative)

I loved how this was a theatrical narrative as it was being read – wherein, each new character who comes into the scene of the story has their ‘own’ voice and is represented well by how Muething is voicing their characters. I love when narrators give distinction to characters and let each character own their own personality – rather than having them all congeal together and make it a bit harder on the listener to know who is whom.

There are multi-characters who are LGBTQ+ in the storyline and yet, Muething was able to make each of them come across to the reader and listener as they would be IRL. She changed the tone of her voice to reflect different genders (in audiobooks especially it is hard sometimes to know the gender of a character, yet when narrators can embrace a different tone in their voice as Muething has herself, it lends an easier frame of reference to the listener) however, some of the characters are outside the binary of gender identity or expression and I felt she handled those characters quite well, too.

Regards to Articulation & Performance of the story:


Each time a new character (lead or secondary or background) came into focus, you had a new variance of voice in Ms Muething. Wherein she would find a way to articulate what that person is saying in such an organic method of delivery, you truly were tricked into believing they were ‘all present’ at different intervals! This is why I love finding narrators who give an ensemble cast presentation to an audio story – it rounds out the experience for me as a reader and as a listener. Whilst it also gives me a chance to see how all these lovely beings were meant to be heard and understood in the context of their story.


Ms Muething definitely performs through her narration, and I loved feeling as if I were watching a one woman play who was tackling multi-characters and giving us a lively performance of the story. Audiobooks for me become spoken plays and it is a joy to take the journey towards seeing how the story and the narrator eclipse the story for us as readers because they make the stories, they narrate such tangible and illustrated worlds to step inside by how they choose to narrate the story.

Notes on the Quality of Sound & the Background Ambiance:

Sound quality was brilliant – crisp, clear and clean. No distractions except for when your connectivity can become disrupted and then, of course, it affects playback. This wasn’t an issue with the audiobook itself but rather my own connections to the internet. *le sigh*

Preference after listening to re-Listen or pick up the book in Print?

As I began reading the book and then, started to listen to the audiobook – my favourite way to read and listen to this story is to do both at the same time! Meaning, it is a pleasure of joy for me to have the book in hand and the narrator in my ears! I’ve read/listened to this story in three different sittings – first during Wyrd And Wonder Year 4 in May, 2021; second during #SpooktasticReads in October, 2021; and now, finally a third round of reading/listening this Wyrd And Wonder Year 5 in which I am pleasantly delighted to say I read/heard the story in full start to finish and wickedly remembered my first reactions (per the notes on this review) and LOVED the ways in which the story was knitted together into the conclusion.

I get so attached to narrators for stories – in my heart, I would always either read/listen to this novel or I would opt to re-listen to the audiobook as Ms Muething truly does a remarkable job of illuminating this world and giving you an immersive effect by her narration. I wouldn’t want to just read the novel without that added layer of joy.

In closing, would I seek out another Danielle Muething audiobook?

Oh! Definitely, would. I am very hopeful Ms Chris might consider using her again to narrate more stories or novellas/shorts of hers because she has great instincts when it comes to personalising characters, distinctively choosing voices and giving us such a wicked good listen! I will always associate her voicing of these characters with my memories of the story itself because of how she gave us such a layered perspective into who they were and how they present themselves by voice and sound. There were so many lovely moments in the narration, too. Definitely a narrator who understood the author’s vision of the world and brought it to life for us with her narration. I look forward to listening to other audiobooks and seeing what she does with those stories, too.

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This audiobook review is courtesy of: E. Chris Garrison

About Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison) of Silly Hat Books

E. Chris Garrison Photo Credit: Ellie Sophia Photography

Chris Garrison writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories.

Her urban fantasies feature ghosts, demonic possession, and sinister fairy folk delivered with a “lightly dark” side of humor.

Her latest series is Trans-Continental, a steampunk adventure with a transgender woman protagonist. The series is set in one of the worlds in Chris’s dimension-hopping science fiction adventure, Reality Check, also published by Silly Hat Books. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon.com in 2013. Silly Hat Books released Alien Beer and Other Stories, a collection of her short stories, in 2017. Her latest release is The Multiverse Blues in 2021. Most of her stories are now available across formats including audiobook.

Chrissy lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her wife, step- daughter and many cats. She also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape. Keep up on the latest news and releases from Chris

Photo Credit: Ellie Sophia Photography

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Skye-Blue-universe info graphic about the collective works inter-related to each other by E. Chris Garrison and R.J. Sullivan. Graphic provided by the authors and is used with permisison.

Visit E. Chris Garrison @ Silly Hat Books

Visit R.J. Sullivan @ Dark Whimsy Books

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A note from E. Chris Garrison: on the sequencing and order of her stories

Road Ghosts takes place from 2013-2015. Tipsy Fairy Tales from 2015-2016. Trans Witch is in the fall of 2020, and Born This Fae is set beginning this year, 2022. So it has been years between the end of Mean Spirit and the beginning of the two newer books!

Reality Check is a stand-alone book that has sequels. My Trans-Continental books are set in the Steampunk world that first appears in Reality Check, and The Multiverse Blues includes worlds and characters that first appeared in Reality Check. There is a Tipsy Fairy Tales “easter egg” that I included in Reality Check! And there’s one small thing in common between that book and Trans Witch as well!

The story of Born This Fae begins with a mystery as members of a book club gaining magical fae powers on New Years Day. They find out that Skye, who appears in a fictional book called Blue Spirit, is a real person, so they set out to find her to get answers.

My indirect collaboration with @RJSullivanAuthr over the years has been so great! He borrowed the Transit King and Skye, I borrowed Rebecca, Blue and Phil. It’s helped enrich both of our worlds and reflects our great friendship! I very much value my friendship with R.J. Sullivan, as an author and beyond. We have a lot of similar thoughts on writing and urban fantasy in particular. I’m glad to have him in my life to share our experiences and help each other grow as people and also as authors.

#WyrdAndWonder #SatBookChat E. Chris Garrison chat banner created by Jorie in Canva.

As disclosed via #WyrdAndWonder’s takeover via #SatBookChat 14th May, 2022.

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Reading this story contributed to my #WyrdAndWonder Year 5:

#WyrdAndWonder Year 5 banner created by Jorie in Canva.


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Enjoying my fantastical reviews about the worlds of Fantasy?

Ever since the beginning of Jorie Loves A Story, I have embarked on a Quest to seek out stories within the worlds of Fantasy which would heighten my awareness of the genre and give me wicked good reads – across the subniches of a genre I’ve loved since I was seventeen. Every May, I happily co-host @WyrdAndWonder – whilst throughout the months of the year, I regularly read & discuss the Fantasy reads I am discovering.

Visit my full archive for ALL my #EnterTheFantastic wanderings! As well as take a walkabout through my archives for #WyrdAndWonder – or take a walkabout through my archive for everything deemed wickedly fantastical!

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{SOURCES: Book Covers of “Trans Witch: College of Secrets” (paperback & audiobook) as well as the author photograph of E. Chris Garrison, author biography and the book synopsis were provide by the author E. Chris Garrison and are used with permission. Skye-Blue-universe info graphic about the collective works inter-related to each other by E. Chris Garrison and R.J. Sullivan. Graphic provided by the authors and is used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets are inserted due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #WitchyWednesdays banner, #WyrdAndWonder Year 5 banner, #WyrdAndWonder #SatBookChat E. Chris Garrison chat banner, audio extract badge and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2022.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 18 May, 2022 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, #WitchyWednesdays, #WyrdAndWonder, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Cover | Original Illustration & Design, Book Review (non-blog tour), Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Romance, Good vs. Evil, Illustration for Books & Publishing, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, Realistic Fiction, School Life & Situations, Silly Hat Books, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Teacher & Student Relationships, Urban Fantasy, Urban Life, Witches and Warlocks

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