Acquired Book By: In 2016, I was on the blog tour via iRead Book Tours for the first novel in this series “The Breedling & the City in the Garden” wherein I reviewed the story but also hosted a guest author feature: an interview with Ms Bastian. It was a difficult time for me back then, as it was close to the time of my father’s stroke and thus, upon receiving the sequel, a lot of the back-story of the series was lost to me until I read the details over again which Ms Bastian thankfully etched into “The Breedling & the Trickster” to help re-establish our knowledge of her world. I was asked to participate on her Spring blog tour to run concurrent to her real-life book tour throughout the Mid-West.
I received a complimentary copy of “The Breedling & the Trickster” direct from the author Kimberlee Ann Bastian in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
What I appreciated about reading “The Breedling and the City in the Garden”:
Such a curious opening sequence – where we meet quite the interesting two characters – of whom start to set the tone for the story itself. The Tales Teller is an interesting character because she embodies the history of the origins within her mind and is electrically charged through her emotional angst for not being able to contain herself when she’s feeling vexed; despite the curiously magical situations surrounding her – such as self-brewing calming vapors by an apothecarist whose own intentions are as masked as her own. From the angle of entrance into this world, we’re curious to know more about the original origins of the Elements and how everything was first spun into orbit before it outspun itself into chaos – there was an organisation shift and a purposeful distortion of order causing a catalyst of after effects.
The back history itself reads similar to Earth’s own origins – about how natural elements are as important as the mathematical language which speaks for the universal codes. Elemental magic and elemental biochemistry are quite fascinating sub-focuses in scientific history but it’s how these particular elements were divided and then segregated away from each other that was most telling in the opening chapter to prove how disportioned this particular world had become since it was first conceived. There are only four elements hanging in the balance: Flame (in lieu of Fire), Wind (in lieu of Air), Earth (as itself), and Sea (in lieu of Water) who are being manipulated to exist outside of their own natural instincts. The spirit realm or the area known as Heaven (otherwise known as Aether outside of religious thought) is not separated into a fifth element but rather drawn into Wind – as Wind was cast out into Heaven whereas Flame was sent to Hell. Bastian has created an abridged origins story for her world which runs parallel to contemporary understandings of religious history through the eye of spirituality with takeaways from natural religious orders and the Far East. Metal and Wood are sometimes additional elements used to speak to the origins of balance in the natural world, however, they were not highlighted in this story.
There are twofolds to the story – the organisational backstory of the Elements themselves and how they influence and effect life in human society. Those who exist in the Elemental side of the world have a certain structure of duties and expectations – they are sent with specific goals in mind to carry out the will of those of whom control their actions, but what they hadn’t expected is one of their own to go against their rules and draw his own conclusions about what his purpose in his life was going to be outside of their controlling mandate.
Although I knew going into reading this novel it was loosely based on the Irish folktale of Stingy Jack – the only mentions of the fellow is fleeting on the outskirts of where Buck and Charlie are moving the story forward – even the Elements themselves have taken a backseat, allowing what happens in Chicago to become center-point to the evolving drama. Not that this is necessarily a negative but I did find it quite interesting how much time was spent on developing Charlie’s character – he’s very much well-defined and fleshed out, whereas Buck is loosely patched together with only a few inklings of his heritage and origin pierced together from the opening to the short revelations he’s giving to Charlie or the reader; as part of his point of view is in the narrative itself. You almost have to ‘take out’ the folklore origin story and follow Charlie on his path – as he’s the main character of the novel, which surprised me in a way, as I thought it would be Buck (given the title) but instead, I found myself drawn more to Charlie’s plight than worrying about what would become of Buck at this junction until the last quarter of the novel.
This is where Bastian pulled together why Buck was different from others like him and why Charlie and the Priest Charlie befriended were so very important to Buck – each of them were providing Buck with one piece of a puzzle only he could solve. There are great forces of good and evil weaving around the evolving plot as it thickens in and out of preference to continue telling Charlie’s story. Charlie’s story is very much hinged to Buck’s in a way that surprised Buck in the end as it was not what he was expecting to be true. Bastian wants her readers to read between the lines inasmuch as pay attention to the details she’s giving out in measured installments – you can tell she spent a great deal of time setting the scope of the series whilst sorting out what needed to be present and what could wait to be seen lateron.
You find yourself pulled into a story of ethics and morals – of sorting through the will of one vs the will of the majority and who decides what is right for themselves. There is far more to this story than what you first think is going to be revealled because Buck is set on a journey towards understanding why he alone is set apart from his kin and how his evolution away from tradition is a marked fixture of how time is yielding to reveall something altogether new to the Elements who until this point in time were a bit dormant in power. Bastian has written a story that encourages you to think back on what was revealled and when each revelation changed the perception of each character affected by the hidden truths of her world.
“He was the lad who did it twice, tricked the Devil by a roll of the dice . . . He goes by the name of Stingy Jack; with a turnip lantern in hand to light his way through the black.”
For immortal soulcatcher Buck, acclimating to newfound freedom in 1934 Chicago would have been impossible if not for the selfless actions of Charlie Reese. Now separated from his mortal friend, Buck accepts a new mission: to save the Shepherdess, whose unclaimed soul will soon stand trial in his old world, Euxinus.
Buck must find the Shepherdess’ beloved, the infamous Trickster Stingy Jack, and convince him to testify on behalf of her soul. Furthermore, Buck must ensure Stingy Jack is worthy to stand as her witness. It’s no easy feat; Hades, sworn enemy of Stingy Jack, threatens to thwart Buck’s mission at every twist and turn in hopes of seizing the Shepherdess’ soul—and the secret she holds—for himself.
Set on a whirlwind path that leads him on an odyssey across the American Midwest, Buck must rely on untested skills while being ever mindful of his dangerous surroundings as he prepares himself for his return to the dark, desolate realm of Euxinus.
Places to find the book:
Also in this series: The Breedling and the City in the Garden
Published by Wise Ink Creative Publishing
on 19th September, 2017
Format: Paperback Edition
The Element Odysseys series:
The Breedling and the City in the Garden (Book One) | (see also Review)
The Breedling and the Trickster (Book Two)
The Breedling and the Shepherdess (Book Three) | → Winter 2019!
Available Formats: Paperback and EbookRead More
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge