Short Story Collection #3

Spirit DanceSpirit Dance by Douglas Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Actual rating of 3.5

Gwyn is one of the Heroka, an ancient race of shapeshifters. He is a Heroka of the Wolf totem. After living life as a recluse due to a deadly battle with a government agency known as the Tainchel, he is contacted by the head of Heroka, who asks for his help in stopping another friend from killing a logging baron, he can’t refuse. In accepting the offer, Gwyn will be forced to face the monsters of his past as well as the Taichel themselves.

I really loved the inclusion of the Native Canadian spirits in this story. If I see a book that has anything to do with the Native spirits of any country, I’m generally sold, regardless of what the story is actually about. Something about the Natives around the world just absolutely fascinates me, their legends, their history, their culture and people, everything. So I was instantly sold when I saw that this story centred around native spirits.

I enjoyed the characters we met in this story, I found that Gwyn was incredibly interesting , and Smith was able to add a layer of depth to the character, even though this is only a short story. The supporting characters were just as well written, and I would be incredibly interested in learning more about them.

The story itself was fast paced, and even though short, packed in a lot of different aspects. This story is a brilliant peek into the world of the Heroka, and even though, at times, I couldn’t tell if the story was being told in the past or re-lived in the present, it was still very strong. It has peaked my interest into the world and characters that Smith has created, and I’m definitely going to be checking out the other books in this world.

Beginner's Luck (Mythical Menagerie Book 1)Beginner’s Luck by Suneé le Roux

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ambrose is down on his luck, he’s completely broke, he can’t get a job after a colossal mistake at his last one, and his girlfriend and him recently separated. So when he stumbles upon $50 and a flyer advertising vacant positions, he counts himself on the way up. After racing through the city to reach the meeting, he finds himself in a room being tasked with finding mythological creatures who are in need of collecting in order to save them. Everyone else walks out, spouting “what bullshit this is” everyone, but Ambrose. He finds himself back on the street with a whistle and a thought that maybe he really is losing his marbles. Until he discovers that everything he thought was just a fairy tale is in fact real.

I was super surprised by this story!! I enjoyed it so freaking much. The world was written amazingly, I would put this as an Urban Fantasy for sure. It’s England as we know it, but the girl in the water isn’t just a girl, and the boy under the bridge, he isn’t just a boy. Everything is so much more than what it seems. I found the author’s voice to be magical and enthralling, it had me hanging on every sentence.

The characters we met, such as Ambrose, and the shoe cobler, were so well written for such a short story. I found myself completely enamoured with them and needing to know what was to come. I absolutely loved the interactions between Ambrose and the creatures he finds. It really added another level to the story. This reminded me slightly of Fantastic Beasts, but told from the perspective of the clueless human who has been thrown straight into a fantasy world with no idea what’s going on. Yes there’s the whole thing about his Dad, but still, Ambrose is just trying to make his way the best he can, and not get evicted.

As I said, I was so pleasantly surprised by this story, I will be checking out the rest of the series for sure.

UnderneathUnderneath by Heather Marie Adkins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Underneath follows the story of a young, widowed mother who has been let go from her position at the Museum and is offered a position at another facility called the Ancient. The Ancient is home to Garneria, an underground city discovered after the mayor fell down a sinkhole and has been lost ever since. A city that Rebecca is terrified of going near due to her Empathic abilities. However, if she wants to keep a roof over her and her daughter’s heads, she doesn’t have a choice. Taking the job, she is relieved to find that majority of the terror and torture doesn’t reach her in her normal day to day activities in the facility. But she knows that there is endless horror just waiting to break free.

Once again, I was pleasantly surprised with this story. I’m a sucker for any stories that revolve around ancient ruins, especially those with ties into Mayan and Incan history where we know human sacrifice was a staple ritual. So I was absolutely tickled pink when I discovered that’s what this story centred around. Placing an Empath in the mix as well? A stroke of genius. I’ve often wondered myself, what would a place – where ritual human sacrifice happened – FEEL like. Yes I know, I’m sounding a little morbid, but I’m curious.

The characters of Darren, Rebecca, Adara and even George were super well written. Adkins definitely holds the ability to be able to write characters with a hell of a lot of depth for such a short story. I was super invested in ALL of them.

My only disappointment with this story is that it’s not longer. I would’ve LOVED a full length novel with this story. I feel like it could have been done as well, but then maybe the pacing would have been off. The pacing for what it was worked perfectly. An absolute page-turner, and if I didn’t have to start work so early this morning, I would’ve stayed up last night until I finished it in bed, in one sitting. But alas, work was calling. A full length novel would have made my millenia with this story. At the end, we are told that a sequel was meant to follow, but I’ve been unable to find any such story existing so far. Which I’m a little disappointed about. I’m really hoping that the author decides to revisit this world and it has strong characters, and amazing story line and a voice that is just wonderful.

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