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.
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.
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
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.
Places to find the book:
Also by this author: The Shadow of the Skytree
Published by Odyssey Books
on 25th November, 2019
Converse via: #YAFantasy, #ShadowOfTheSkyTree
as well as #OdysseyBooks & #WyrdAndWonder
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: