Complicating matters in these swift, engaging stories is Alerice’s strong sense of justice, inherited from her father, which puts her at odds with the orders of the Raven Queen, who insists that Alerice’s weapons—a dagger and two bladed, extendable “pixie poles”—should only be deployed for the queen’s purposes, not merely to save the lives of innocent mortals. Each entry offers a mostly standalone adventure, taking readers to exciting locations like a fauns’ glen and an abbey beset by wyverns, but the serialized elements are tense and compelling, especially once Kreston has developed urgent feelings for Alerice, and the King of Shadows instructs him to steal a mighty bauble from Alerice’s patron.
Action is lively and inventive, and Rado’s worldbuilding is strong, full of surprises, mythic mysteries, all-too-human gods, and a memorable sense of place, whether the caverns, underworlds, or inviting taverns. The prose tends toward the matter-of-fact, at times not measuring up to the magic of the world, but the dialogue, characterization, and the spirit of adventure are all vigorous. Here’s sword-and-sorcery with real heart.
Takeaway: Rousing epic fantasy novellas of a realms-crossing heroine.
Comparable Titles: Michelle Sagara, Tamora Pierce.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-