Category: Fly in the Ointment

Exploring #DesertFantasy this #WyrdAndWonder | “Speechless in Achten Tan” (Book One: The Sands of Achten Tan series) by Debbie Iancu-Haddad

Posted Tuesday, 31 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I stumbled across a reviewer request on Twitter in the middle of #WyrdAndWonder which intrigued me because it was for a novel which had a very bewitching premise! The lead character had lost the ability to speak, and she was on a Quest to find her voice! I had a few concerns in regards to the content of the novel which I discussed with the author prior to accepting the novel for review consideration. Plus, given that our 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder was already underway, I did have concerns about being able to read it in time before our event concluded. The book took a bit longer to reach me but I was overjoyed once it did arrive as there was something uniquely different about the story and I was hoping that it wasn’t too Dark for me to enjoy reading.

I received a complimentary copy of “Speechless in Achten Tan” from the author Debbie Iancu-Haddad in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

Sometimes stories have a way of FINDING YOU rather than the other way round. When I asked the author directly about content warnings she mentioned to me about ‘fade to black’ romantic encounters and a limited number of explicit words as there was a replacement stronger word given as this is a Fantasy novel. Although one universally known word does make an appearance ever so briefly which I was grateful to hear about as well. Being this is a Desert Fantasy novel with a strong empathsis on Weird Fantasy aesthetics, I had a feeling I would enjoy being inside this world quite well! I wasn’t sure of course about how dark the world might evolve as I knew Mila was going to go on a Quest as all cavern witches must do at some point if they cannot ascend to the next stage of their development but one thing was for certain: I knew the visceral imagery and the enveloping of the world-building would be wholly new and original to discover as I do not spend a lot of time reading these kinds of Fantasy. Although, at some point I need to finish reading Empire of Sand.

I am grateful I was able to connect with the author via Twitter and include this reading with my stack of novels and stories this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder! And, perhaps by our sixth year I’ll have more joys of reading more stories in Achten Tan as I am dearly curious about the anthology Tales from the Year Between, Volume One: Achten Tan (Land of Dust and Bone) as much as I am eager for the sequel, too. It would be interesting to see what aspects of the world are explored in the anthology and of course, how that parlays into the series now being written. As the anthology was writ by different writers (all of whom would have different POVs) it would give an interestingly impression about Achten Tan and of course, a lot of curious possibilities of where Iancu-Haddad might take the series itself.

This is another example of why I lament about the blessings of being a socially bookish reader right now in today’s world because readers and writers can find each other in social settings which allow the reader to find stories they might have missed otherwise. I have long been a champion of Indie Publishers and Press as well as Self-Published or Hybrid authors — finding Skull Gate Media through reading this novel was an added bonus whilst continuing to seek out the Indie Fantasy section of a genre I love made my heart feel wickedly happy this Wyrd And Wonder. I love being a book cheerleader for #IndieFantasy storycrafters each May and thankfully I continue to be able to seek out the stories which are elevating my joy of discovery within the genre itself. As even outside of Wyrd And Wonder – these are the stories I desire most to read every week and month of the year.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Exploring #DesertFantasy this #WyrdAndWonder | “Speechless in Achten Tan” (Book One: The Sands of Achten Tan series) by Debbie Iancu-HaddadSpeechless in Achten Tan
Subtitle: The Sands of Achten Tan : Book One
by Debbie Iancu-Haddad
Source: Direct from Author

Mila hasn't spoken in the five years since she became an Onra, a first level Everfall witch. After failing the test to reclaim her voice and control her magic, her mentor sends eighteen-year-old Mila to Achten Tan–City of Dust–a dangerous desert town, built in the massive ribcage of an extinct leviathan.

To reclaim her power, Mila must steal a magical staff capable of releasing it, from Bone Master Opu Haku's sky-high lair. Her only resources are the magical luminous elixirs of the cursed caverns where she grew up, and a band of unlikely allies; a quirky inventor, a giant-ant rider, a healer, a librarian's assistant, a Tar-tule rider, and the chief's playboy son.

But in the City of Bones, enemies & friends are not who they seem, and trusting the wrong person can be deadly. If Mila fails, she will never speak again and her bones will be added to the wasteland. This book includes a kick-ass female protagonist covered in tattoos, giant ants, first-person present-tense narration, magic, banter, lots of innuendoes, and cute boys kissing.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fantasy, Weird Fantasy, Upper YA Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1956042061

Published by Skull Gate Media

on 20th February, 2022

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 425

Published By: Skull Gate Media (@SkullgateMedia)

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NOTE: This novel began as a short story called “Speechless” and was originally published in Skull Gate Media’s anthology: Tales from the Year Between, Volume One: Achten Tan (Land of Dust and Bone). Whilst Skull Gate Media is an interesting new publishing company as it is a collective amongst the writers who co-own it together.

Notation about Cover Art and Design: The one observation which confused me about the book cover was the fact Mila on the cover looked a bit different than I visualised her in the story. Especially I was missing the artful way her braids had bones threaded through them and for being a gnome she looked far taller than I thought she would as well.

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

About Debbie Iancu-Haddad

Debbie Iancu-Haddad

Debbie Iancu-Haddad is a Jewish Israeli author living in Meitar in the Negev Desert. Author of Speechless in Achten Tan a YA fantasy novel. And The Bone Master, forthcoming.

She spends her time taking part in Anthologies (seven to date with three more on the way), writing VSS on Twitter, and buying way too much stuff online. Her goal is to promote body positive characters and include characters dealing with physical challenges. #ownvoices

For her day job, she gives lectures on humor, laughter yoga workshops, and chocolate workshops, and sees how often she can make her two teenagers roll their eyes.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Tuesday, 31 May, 2022 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, #WyrdAndWonder, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Review (non-blog tour), Brothers and Sisters, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Content Note, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Deaf Culture in Fiction, Death of a Sibling, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Novel, Desert Fantasy, Domestic Violence, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Romance, Fly in the Ointment, Good vs. Evil, Indie Author, Invisibility, Science Fantasy, Siblings, Speculative Fiction, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Traumatic Injury, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Upper YA Fantasy, Upper YA Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature, Weird Fantasy, Witches and Warlocks

Exploring #ForestFantasy this #WyrdAndWonder | “The Namer of Spirits” by Todd Mitchell

Posted Monday, 30 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I stumbled across one of my author’s newsletters which was mentioning the works of other writers who were going to be at the same event. Laura Resau is an author I have loved reading for many years now (well over a decade and a half!) and it was her newsletter which mentioned this story “The Namer of Spirits” by Todd Mitchell. I had been keenly hopeful I would discover a Forest Fantasy novel I hadn’t learnt of previously before or during Wyrd And Wonder this year and as I read about the premise behind this novel, I felt it was a wicked good fit for me to read!

I had planned to interview Mr Mitchell during Wyrd And Wonder – either as a fifth chat on Twitter or more traditionally on my blog, however, as my work life became a bit more complicated and my health took a few sidesteps as well as a result, I wasn’t able to firm together those plans. I opted instead to focus on reading the novel and sharing my ruminations during the event whilst I planned to re-connect with the author afterwards to see if perhaps I could still interview him about what I had read and the story he had written.

I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this anthology for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NoteI received the Press Materials from the author Todd Mitchell – who kindly sent them to me at my request after I explained how I was going to read his novel during Wyrd And Wonder. He is my fifth and final #WyrdAndWonder guest authors this year – on the 31st of May – wherein we’ll be chatting on the tag #WyrdAndWonder as the previous four guests were conversing via #SatBookChat which is the tag for @SatBookChat, the chat I developed early-on as a book blogger.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

It wasn’t until I was reading through my authors’ newsletters (which I receive by email) ahead of Wyrd And Wonder this year that I discovered The Namer of Spirits as forementioned. It was @LauraResau who had tipped my hat towards finding this novel and it led me into reading the story during the last weekend of the event whilst hosting a live interview with Mr Mitchell on our final day of Wyrd And Wonder which is the 31st of May.

Todd Mitchell Twitter Chat banner created by Jorie in Canva.

I was especially grateful to Ms Resau for including the news about an event they were both attending as otherwise I might not have discovered this story this year at all. And, that would have been a keen disappointment as from the first moment I started to read the story, I could tell it carried with it a lot of the themes we were hoping to uncover throughout Wyrd And Wonder this year. Especially about the spirits who live in the forest, forest communities and also, how a society would either live in harmony with the forest or against it; given different approaches in narratives and scopes of stories or series.

I am thankful I have a chance to both read and talk about the story on Jorie Loves A Story but also, speak directly with the author and talk about how he approached writing this narrative as much as what inspired it to be written. I am hopeful others might be drawn inside his creative Forest Fantasy world and take out the joys I had whilst reading it.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Notation about Cover Art and Design: I was immediately drawn into the scene on the book cover but it wasn’t until I was reading the story itself did I fully understand what I was observing! It was one of those rare moments where you realised that the cover artist and the design of the cover was an equal match to the contents of the story! The large beast seen on the cover was an illwen and that is Ash standing in front of them. I won’t reveal what is happening as it is an important scene of the story but wow! The illustration of that scene is wicked fab and I also appreciated the imagery of the dao faro and mistcat on the back cover, too! Of course, the author’s photo also makes more sense once you’ve read the story, too! His photo and the cover art are clues about “The Namer of Spirits”!!

Exploring #ForestFantasy this #WyrdAndWonder | “The Namer of Spirits” by Todd MitchellThe Namer of Spirits
by Todd Mitchell
Source: Purchased | Personal Library

“A dangerous town carved out of unforgiving forest, a young girl who can name spirits and tame monsters, a race against time to save the natural world: The Namer of Spirits is what readers want and the world needs.” –Eliot Schrefer, New York Times bestselling author

In the frontier village of Last Hope, people dismiss twelve-year-old Ash Narro as a flighty child who claims to hear the true names of things. But when enraged forest spirits attack, Ash shows that the names she hears have power. After taming a destructive forest spirit, Ash teams up with Fen, a wild forest boy, and embarks on an unusual journey to save her village. In this steampunk eco-fantasy, the perils of deforestation and the power of friendship are explored through a fantastical adventure involving giant mistcats, tempestuous forest spirits, a supernatural puppy, and a girl with a special gift for shaping what things become.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Eco-Fantasy, Middle Grade Fantasy, Sci-Fantasy, Steampunk



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-945654-82-4

Published by Owl Hollow Press LLC

on 5th October, 2021

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 316

Published By: Owl Hollow Press, LLC (@owlhollowpress)

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Genre(s): Middle Grade | Fantasy | Adventure | Magic
Steampunk | Eco-Fantasy | Eco-Lit | Environmental Fantasy

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

About Todd Mitchell

Todd Mitchell

Todd Mitchell is the author of several award-winning novels for young readers, teens, and adults including The Last Panther (Penguin Random House), The Traitor King (Scholastic), The Secret to Lying (Candlewick), and Backwards (Candlewick).

His two newest books came out in fall 2021 — one for writers, artists, and creators titled Breakthrough: How to Overcome Doubt, Fear, and Resistance to Be Your Ultimate Creative Self, and a Middle Grade novel that's been optioned for film/TV development titled The Namer of Spirits.

In addition to his books, he’s also written for comics, including A Flight of Angels (Vertigo, a YALSA Top 10 Pick for Teens) and Broken Saviors (an alien invasion comic available on ComiXology). Currently, Todd directs the Beginning Creative Writing Teaching Program at Colorado State University. You can visit him (and learn about his squirrel obsession) on his website.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 30 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Review (non-blog tour), Content Note, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Eco-Fantasy, Environmental Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Middle Grade Novel, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Reincarnation, Science Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Steampunk, Transfiguration, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event

A #WyrdAndWonder Anthology Review | “EQUUS” (Rhonda Parrish’s Magical Menageries, Collection 5) edited by Rhonda Parrish

Posted Sunday, 29 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I never had the chance to finish reading this particular anthology series which I fell in love with by the Indie publisher World Weaver Press. Sadly, after I purchased “Sirens” and “Equus” I learned the sad news this publisher was only going to release one new anthology which debuted during Wyrd And Wonder (ie. “Mothers of Enchantment”) but there will be no new releases moving forward. I was thankful I have a few years at least to gather copies of the rest of their anthologies I would like to read (especially as they have an impressive collection of Solarpunk!) whilst sorting which other titles aside from “Mothers of Enchantment” I would also like to purchase before they close their doors forever without a way of acquiring their titles. I highly recommend you back-read through my reviews for this publisher and see which titles you’d like to gather yourself, too.

On a happier note, I purchased “Sirens” and “Equus” to continue my journey into the vision Ms Parrish had for her Magical Menageries series of anthologies – as I began this adventure within the pages of “Fae” (see also Review), then “Corvidae” (see also Review) and “Scarecrow” (see also Review). It has been such an incredible and thrilling ride!! Especially as I have found such depth of centre within the stories I’ve blogged about as I made my way through each anthology – those writers captured me truly by the ways in which short fiction can truly transcend the shortness of its tales.

I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this anthology for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Note: I received the Press Materials from the publisher World Weaver Press after requesting to use them for Wyrd And Wonder whilst I shared my reviews for both Sirens and Equus which would complete my journey with this anthology series edited by Rhonda Parrish.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

It has been about six years since I was caught inside the JOY of reading this anthology series which had bewitched my imagination and endeared me to the artfulness of how anthologists put together their anthologies! Yet, it was with a heavier heart I realised after contacting this publisher about the press materials, I would have to seek out titles I had planned to purchase within a shorter time-frame lest they go out of print before I have the chance to read them. Whilst at the same time, I’ve been a book cheerleader for the publisher ever since (2015) when I first read FAE. The anthology which started my journey into the Magical Menagaries series.

A week ago I was able to traverse through the stories set against the fable and lore behind SIRENS – whilst a few writers also entertained me with their variations on the classical stories of mermaids which I felt befit the collection as much as Ms Parrish! Let me share a glimpse into my final takeaways of reading SIRENS before I proceed to share my reflections on behalf of EQUUS.

I was thrilled to be able to peer into stories which thoughtfully played off the Classical and Modern spins of thought about sirens. There was emotional strife, comedic relief and thought-provoking tales which gave you more fodder to chew on than you first realised possible! I enjoyed being in different settings as well – from deep Space to a cruise ship to being seaside whilst a siren goes through her process of dating and finding herself forevermore disappointed by her choices. Yet, even when you feel you’ve reached your emotional limits – you find yourself in a war drama set against the foils of the Gods themselves!

The lovely imagery and imaginative eye of the writers who are inclusive of this anthology truly enthralled me with their ability to capture the vision of their story but also, giving me such fantastical glimpses into mermaids, sirens, and the Gods or Goddesses of Greek Mythos. There was a beautiful synergy of interest throughout the stories I read which parlay themselves into new fables to be told and listened too. Which was the beauty of it of course, because most Mythological stories are fables full of lessons of life or cautionary tales of one variety or another. I appreciated the diversity of the stories as much as the voices within them, too.

It is hard to believe I’ve almost concluded my time within the Magical Menageries series as I only have Equus left to read! Blessedly, there will be other collections and anthologies by Ms Parrish to chase after next and for that, I am grateful I first found her editorial work through World Weaver Press. As much as I hope some of the writers, I’ve found through their anthologies I can read again – either in new anthologies by other publishers and press or in their longer format stories. They each have a lovely style of etching out the fantastical and for that, I am a grateful reader!

-quoted from my review of SIRENS

It is with a heavier heart I am reading EQUUS, knowing that this is one of the final anthologies I’ll be able to read via World Weaver Press. They still have quite a few anthologies I’d like to purchase before the publishing house disappears into the ethos and only is a fragment of memory which was such a keenly joyous part of my readerly life these years I’ve been a book blogger. It will take time to find another publisher who is publishing the kind of anthologies I enjoy reading but thankfully Ms Parrish has a lovely variety of ones to collect which will keep me ruminatively satisfied!

If you’re as keenly interested in short stylised fiction as much as I am, I hope you’ll consider SIRENS, EQUUS or any of the other lovely editions of the Magical Menagaries series to be your #nextread! And, remember – there is a limited time frame in which to collect them before they go out of print.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

A #WyrdAndWonder Anthology Review | “EQUUS” (Rhonda Parrish’s Magical Menageries, Collection 5) edited by Rhonda ParrishEquus
by (Editor) Ms Rhonda Parrish
Source: Purchased | Personal Library

There’s always something magical about horses, isn’t there? Whether winged or at home in the water, mechanical or mythological, the equines that gallop through these pages span the fantasy spectrum. In one story a woman knits her way up to the stars and in another Loki's descendant grapples with bizarre transformations while fighting for their life. A woman races on a unique horse to save herself from servitude, while a man rides a chariot through the stars to reclaim his self-worth. From steampunk-inspired stories and tales that brush up against horror to straight-up fantasy, one theme connects them all: freedom.

Featuring nineteen fantastic stories of equines both real and imagined by J.G. Formato, Diana Hurlburt, Tamsin Showbrook, M.L.D Curelas, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, V.F. LeSann, Dan Koboldt, J.J. Roth, Susan MacGregor, Pat Flewwelling, Angela Rega, Michael Leonberger, Sandra Wickham, Stephanie A. Cain, Cat McDonald, Andrew Bourelle, Chadwick Ginther, K.T. Ivanrest, and Jane Yolen.

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Short Story or Novella, Equestrian Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Mythological Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0998702209

Published by World Weaver Press

on 18th July, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 263

Published By: World Weaver Press (@WorldWeaver_wwp)

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Collection No.1 in this series is FAE | Info on Editor’s Blog | Info on Pub

Collection No. 2 in this series is Corvidae | Info on Pub

Collection No.3 in this series is Scarecrow | Info on Editor’s Blog | Info on Pub

Collection No. 4 in this series is SIRENS | Info on Pub

Collection No. 5 in this series is EQUUS | Info on Pub

Converse via: #DiverseSFF, #SFF, #SciFi, #Fantasy & #Anthology

+ #MagicalMenageries (the series tag!)

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Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

Genre(s): Fantasy | Mythology | Short Stories
(Inspired by) Horse Mythology (ie. Pegasus, Unicorn) | Anthology

About (Editor) Ms Rhonda Parrish

Rhonda Parrish

Like a magpie, Rhonda Parrish is constantly distracted by shiny things. She’s the editor of many anthologies and author of plenty of books, stories and poems. She lives with her husband and three cats in Edmonton, Alberta, and she can often be found there playing Dungeons and Dragons, bingeing crime dramas or cheering on the Oilers. To stay in touch her website is updated regularly and her Patreon is updated even more regularly.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Sunday, 29 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, After the Canon, Anthology Collection of Stories, Classical Literature, Content Note, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Novellas or Short Stories, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Vulgarity in Literature

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Exploring Dark Fantasy within “The Shadow of the Skytree” by K.J. Taylor

Posted Monday, 9 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Gifted Book By: This novel “The Shadow of the Skytree” was part of a gifted #bookhaul of mine from my Mum and Dad for #WyrdAndWonder, Year 4! They happily surprised me with a lovely bundle of books I featured during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 celebrating the Indie Publisher Odyssey Books! This continues my readings of those novels as I was overjoyed I can read all the lovely stories I had either showcased and/or featured but wasn’t able to read during our Year 3 Wyrd And Wonder.

Thereby, I was gifted a copy of “The Shadow of the Skytree” by my parents and I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this novel for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Note: I received the Press Materials last year from the publisher and had asked if I could re-use them if and when I was able to read and/or review the stories I was featuring during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 (2020); and thankfully was given permission to do so which is why I am using them during my readings this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

This 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder, I am finishing my readings of the Odyssey Books Fantasy stories I showcased during our 3rd Year! Except for one of the novels which I am still trying to secure a copy of and has remained a bit elusively out of reach.

Last week I was completely absorbed into the world of Tarya within Rachel Nightingale’s Harlequin’s Riddle novel which sets the stage for her trilogy. I knew I wanted to read her trilogy back-to-back but I also wanted to read Taylor’s novel which has had me curious about how she was going to introduce us to her dwarves, elves and gnomes as well as other recognisable fantastical creatures within the pages of The Shadow of the Skytree.

Before I share my thoughts about the story, I wanted to share an excerpt from our conversation and implore you to re-visit the interview before you continue to read this review or shortly after you’ve read my reactions. All the authors I interviewed through this publisher and/or hosted with guest posts during our 3rd Year were very giving of their time and you’ll find a wealth of loveliness to read through if you go back through those showcases.

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As your novel “The Shadow of the Skytree” has both elves and dwarves inclusive to the world – how would you describe both of them to a first-time reader who hasn’t read too much Fantasy outside of Tolkien and has limited knowledge of elves and dwarves? What is uniquely different about them compared to your gnomes like Lavendar?

Taylor responds: Speaking of avoiding tropes, one I was particularly tired of is elves written in imitation of Tolkien but with all the flaws removed so you end up with an obnoxiously perfect race of superbeings who are the best at everything. I wanted to explore the idea of what a functionally immortal people would more realistically be like, and especially when they’re so cut off from the rest of the world. Which is why my elves are hunter-gatherers with no technology. Their magic means they never needed to develop any, and their longevity makes them so slow to change that they found themselves incapable of adapting to a world that was changing around them and became insular and extremely xenophobic. And I gave them a darker skin tone because you’d realistically expect a race of people who spend their lives mostly outdoors to have adapted accordingly.

As for the dwarves, I won’t lie – I partly designed them for the sheer coolness factor. Stereotypical dwarves live underground and spend most of their time mining, and I thought – well, what if they were so well adapted to living among minerals that they could literally live off the stuff? They’re pretty much living humanoid versions of the volcano they call home – black on the outside, full of fire on the inside. So it made sense that they’d live off a diet of mostly charcoal; if they don’t keep that internal fire fuelled, they die. And they ride on giant lizards because that’s just metal as hell. (Well, and big reptiles would be attracted to hot places. Horses would quickly sicken and die if they had to live in a volcanic environment with no grass).

Meanwhile the gnomes are naturally underground dwellers who are very in touch with the natural world, but are naturally childlike and simple-minded compared to everyone else. Your average gnome doesn’t have a mean bone in her body and can’t really comprehend wanting to hurt anyone, which is why our heroine, Vender, finds the whole conflict going on around her so bewildering. Why can’t people just say sorry and learn to get along?

I love when I find authors re-invent a creature or species other authors have made famous – either to redirect us onto a different path of understanding them or to entreat into a different viewing of them entirely as a race. As like you said, without flaws and without a way of showing growth – the context of those species can become stagnant and predictable. I could also see why you patterned their beliefs and behaviours as you had – as they were definitely a more exclusive race and have kept to themselves in order to survive. I oft wondered about skin tones – sometimes I read a story (Fantasy or otherwise) and know a character is predominately outside – yet, it is not reflected in their character’s profile or disclosed in their story. Even a heavy tan would make better sense than to give the illusion anyone can spend copious amounts of time in direct sunlight without any affect of that kind of exposure to them.

I had to laugh – about why lizards won out over horses. The laughter was sparked because of how true of a statement this is – and how some might have overlooked its importance! Besides anytime you can use a different animal for a species transportation that is outside the box is one I’m going to enjoy getting introduced too! I also had to smirk about the dwarves diet and why they are attracted to volcanoes! They can definitely have that environment – I live where there is volcanic heat (sans the volcano) and humidity – I melt yearly and hope to live elsewhere eventually. This clime doesn’t work for some but I could see a family of dwarves settling into it as if they found the best ‘vacation’ spot of their kin!

I agree with your assessment about gnomes. Mind, to this day, the only route of understanding them was a children’s programme on tv called “David the Gnome” (does anyone remember that one?) I oft felt they were the innocents of their world and had a very positive outlook on everything round them as well.

-quoted from my interview K.J. Taylor

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Exploring Dark Fantasy within “The Shadow of the Skytree” by K.J. TaylorThe Shadow of the Skytree
by K.J. Taylor
Source: Gifted
dnf

The reserved elf Lyell Blackfletch is an ambassador for his people – and the holder of a dark secret. Plague is spreading among the human race, with the fire-loving dwarves already driven to the edge of extinction. Only the human Fiorella is close to finding a cure for the sickness, and with her death it is up to her friend Lavender the gnome to deliver it to her people in the steam-powered city of Vaporcitta.

Naïve but rebellious, Lavender chooses to place her trust in Lyell – but is her confidence in the cold-hearted elf misplaced? With the cure stolen and a secret genocide uncovered, they must both make a choice – but it may already be too late.

Genres: Australian Lit, Fantasy Fiction, Dark Fantasy, YA Fantasy



Places to find the book:

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ISBN: 9781925652796

Also by this author: The Shadow of the Skytree

Published by Odyssey Books

on 25th November, 2019

Pages: 244

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Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

Converse via: #YAFantasy, #ShadowOfTheSkyTree
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About K.J. Taylor

K.J. Taylor

Canberra author Katie J. Taylor attended Radford College, where she wrote her first novel. She studied for a Bachelor's Degree in Communications at the University of Canberra, and graduated in 2007 before going on to do a Graduate Certificate in Editing in 2008. She is also the author of three fantasy trilogies.

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Posted Monday, 9 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Content Note, Dark Fantasy, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Elves & the Elven, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore and Mythology, Horror-Lite, Indie Author, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Upper YA Fantasy