What a couple of weeks it’s been!
Most recently I’ve been busy preparing to speak at a women’s event which took place last Saturday. I discussed the important of being able to identify fake news and went over some key questions we can ask to help us verify what we find online.
I also attended my first book launch! We headed down to Brisbane recently to celebrate the release of Origin Curse by Sarah Kate Ishii – a fabulous coming-of-age fantasy deeply inspired by Japanese culture and heritage. If you’d like to check it out, click herefor Sarah’s website.
Some exciting developments have also been happening with Seregn, but I’ll save that for another day.
For now, I’ve got another review for you! This time, I’m reviewing an excellent novella, Marked, by R.M. Krogman.
Marked is the first-released story from Krogman’s world of Midgate, though there are plenty more shory stories (and an epic trilogy) in the works. I’ve been fortunate enough to beta read Liberation – the first in the trilogy, and I’m very excited for this upcoming fantasy world! But, back to Marked.
The world of Marked is incredibly well realised. From beautiful descriptions of luscious hills and meadows, to visceral fights, to a town that appears both as a warm tightly knit community and as a cold huddle of superstition and cruelty, I found myself swiftly infused in this rich world. There are hints of so much more happening beneath the surface of this story – both in the little community and in the wider world of Midgate – that left me fascinated with the world and eager for more.
Our main character, Davy, is an honest, sweet, hard-working young lad with a strong sweet tooth! Right from the beginning we fall for his kindness, goodness, and desire to help his family. Both likeable and well realised, Davy is the anchor of the story that keeps us reading. As he falls into intense struggle (what story doesn’t have intense struggle?), I was compelled to keep going, rooting for this gentle soul, hoping he would make it out of the pain he found himself in. We become so attached to Davy it’s easy to feel his pain, be indignant or angry on his behalf, and long for a lighter world than where he finds himself.
Other characters of note are Davy’s parents, Ms ol’Lannery, Toarval, and the ol’Campens (especially Tara and Mrs. Ol’Campen). To prevent spoilers, all I will say is that each character performs an important and well-defined role in the story. They worked into the tapestry of both the community within the tale, and the overarcing theme of the story. Overall, the characters inhabiting this world were rich, believable, and important.
The conflict in this story is complex. Davy struggles against multiple factors – against tragedy he can’t control, against physical danger and discomfort, against emotional pain and trauma, against superstition, and against scared, cruel, and/or selfish people. Overall, the conflict here feels like a fight not only for Davy’s survival, but also for his soul. And that makes the story so, so compelling.
The themes in this short story really pack a punch. From the power of superstition to what it means to really love someone, Marked touches on some tough topics, but it does so seamlessly and as part of the wider story. Nothing feels forced or shoehorned in, and we see multiple perspectives from different characters living out their lives in different ways – and where that leads them.
Like I mentioned earlier, Marked, is an origin story for a character who appears in Krogman’s larger ‘The Keepers of Midgate’ trilogy. I mention this because not every storyline will be wrapped up, nor every answer provided by the end of this story.
Overall Marked is a well written and compelling tale set in a rich environment with real and meaningful stakes. The extra awesome news is that Marked will be free for Krogman’s email subscribers. So, if you’d like to give it a try, you can sign up to her email list at her website.
TW: The story does have one quite violent attack, and suicide is also a part of the story. These are both handled well, and have a purpose in the story. Nonetheless readers sensitive to violence or discussions of suicide may not feel reading this tale is appropriate for them.
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, stay tuned for some exciting Seregn news coming up!
For now, happy reading!