TALES OF THE RAVENSDAUGHTER – Collection One
Erin Hunt Rado
Self (305 pp.)
$27.95 hardcover, $21.95 paperback, $8.95 e-book
In this epic fantasy, a woman becomes a powerful warrior in both the spirit and mortal worlds.
Tavern-keeper Alerice Linden seeks revenge against the man who assaulted her—the mayor of the city of Navre. Following her lethal retribution, she flees, only to die at the hands of her pursuers. She awakens in “the Realme” and almost immediately stands in front of the spirit world’s rulers, the King of Shadows and the Raven Queen.
Each one seeks her allegiance. She chooses the Raven Queen, who gives Alerice her dagger and the chance to “right wrongs done to others.” (“You may stand up for those who have no voice, those who truly need you, and in so doing you may discover your own path to self-forgiveness.”)
Alerice, who travels between the Realme and Mortalia (the living world), completes various queen-assigned tasks, ranging from tracking down a mortal stealing souls from the Realme to helping repair potentially infecting breaches in the spirit world’s ether. Along the way, she garners welcome support from Realme herald Oddwyn as well as former army captain Kreston Dühalde, who’s courageous but saddled with a troubled past and an even thornier present.
Rado’s book collects six seamlessly connected novellas. After the first novella introduces Alerice and Kreston, each of the ensuing stories gets a bigger, richer cast and a more deliriously complicated plot. Kreston, for example, has a deeper tie to Alerice than she’s initially aware of, and every adventure they share strengthens their burgeoning relationship. The cast includes mythical creatures that genre fans crave, including kelpies, demon toads, and a “two-headed beast.” But recurring characters are wonderfully exceptional, including Oddwyn, who breezily oscillates between genders and pronouns, and the Realme’s rulers, whose bizarre union only adds to the volume’s curious pile of mysteries.
The author keeps the riveting narrative moving by persistently coupling action scenes with shocking revelations. Most of the disclosures happen in the last two novellas, which end this collection in such startling fashion that readers will demand more tales.
Radiant, laudable characters and a gripping storyline fuel this magical collection of novellas.