If that author’s name sounds familiar, it’s because I interviewed her yesterday about a completely different project! Jennifer is one of the most prolific authors I know, and I was honored to receive an advanced copy of her latest fantasy novella to review. This story debuts today, and I highly recommend snagging a copy of your own if my (spoiler-free) review intrigues you.
Aithne is a warrior kidnapped from her homeland during a Viking invasion and forced to marry her captor. Shortly before the raid that claims his life, she becomes pregnant with a child whom she believes cursed. Spurred by the dark sorcery she learns from relics her late husband’s mother left behind—including a magic mirror—Aithne descends into a madness that threatens not only her child’s life but also the lives of everyone around her.
Exiled by her mother, Brenna is taken in by a clan of dwarves who treat her like their own. They soon learn that no one is immune to Aithne’s lunacy—not even the prince to whom Brenna was once betrothed. Brenna must face and conquer death itself if she is to save the land that rightfully belongs to her, and to break her mother’s terrible spell on the man she loves.
Disclaimer: I have promoted this author’s projects on my blog, and I received an electronic copy of this novella in exchange for an honest review.
This is not a fractured fairy tell so much as a retelling of the familiar Snow White story set within the realm of a new culture and environment. The level of research Loring did for this story is stunning, and fully immersed me into the world of Vikings during their era of plundering Britannia. The realistic details of running a chieftain’s longhouse intertwined seamlessly with the larger fantasy elements of magic, werewolves, and dwarves tailored specifically for the world the author created.
Everything about this story was beautifully imagined, translated seamlessly onto the page with vivid imagery and poignant detail. However, I missed very much emotional connection with the characters. Much time was spent with the evil queen, and despite her tragic beginnings, no traces of sympathetic villain are left by the end of the tale. In contrast, her daughter and the nominal hero of the tale was too perfect to be realistic, even as that perfection is in keeping with the source material. The gorgeous descriptions and quality of writing kept me reading rather than support or hatred of the point of view characters.
This is not Disney’s Snow White, but I wish the author had taken more liberties with the story rather than re-imagining it so faithfully in a different context. Though everything ties up neatly at the end, it leaves reader on a poignant note rather than a hopeful future.
Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.
Jennifer Loring’s short fiction has been widely published in magazines, webzines, and anthologies, including DarkFuse Magazine and Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales from the Lake. Longer work includes three novellas and four novels in both the horror and romance genres. Jenn is a member of the International Thriller Writers and holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives in Philadelphia, PA, with her husband, their turtle, and two basset hounds.
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