Joint Review: Seasons of Sorcery

Reviewed by Jen & Sara

Jen: I read all the shorts in this anthology, as I am familiar with all of the authors. (Sara will jump in for Grace Draven’s story.

Winter’s Web by Jennifer Estep – This is classic Elemental Assassin and in just small novella, fans of the series will find just about everything they would get in a full length book, minus the progression of the larger story arc. Gin and her buddies are attending a Renaissance fair and volunteering to help out the guy that runs the thing (and also works for Owen.) While there, Gin realizes something is amiss and ends up facing a plot targeting one of our main characters.

Delicious food references? Check. On page shout out to the title? Check. Sophia’s Goth fashion? Check. Finnegan rougishness? Check. Owen’s violet eyes and Gin’s grey ones? Double check. We even get the obligatory line on her birth control. Speaking of which, I did feel like the sex scene at the end was out of place. I love a good on-page tumble as much as the next girl, but this one didn’t advance the story. And for what it’s worth, it felt like the longest/most in detailed love scene I’ve read from these characters. (But hey, depending on your tastes, that could be a positive or a negative.)

The only thing missing was “sloppy, sloppy” but I have no doubt, it will be in the next book.

A Wilderness of Glass by Grace Draven – I mean it with my whole heart when I tell you this novella was worth buying the book all on its own.  In fact, that’s exactly what Sara did.

Sara: Yes! The story takes place Draven’s Wraith Kings world. It follows a widow named Brida and how her ordinary existence becomes extraordinary in the blink of an eye.

Brida lives along the Gray, an ocean that gives and takes. Her livelihood and the livelihood of her town is made from the fish, shrimp and seaweed that the Gray provides. The Gray has provided Brida with joy, through a bone from a long Dead Sea creature that her father used to make her favorite flute. Sadly, the Gray is also the reason Brida is a widow as her husband was lost on a fishing vessel during a storm.

This idea of the Gray giving and taking is fairly central to A Wilderness of Glass, as it’s the Gray that is the reason Brida meets the Merfolk and, due to her kindness, becomes embroiled in adventure, romance and magic. However, as the seasons change and winter comes to Brida’s hometown of Ancilar, will Brida’s new found joy last or will it become another casualty to the Gray?

Grace Draven does this amazing thing with her female protagonists, she takes these ordinary women and makes them extraordinary. Like many of Draven’s other female characters, Brida is plain, not overly talented and from nowhere of consequence and yet by the end of the book Brida becomes this amazing character who becomes beautiful in her bravery, kindness and tenacity. Brida’s heart draws Ahtin, her love interest to her and he finds her beautiful and loves her. It’s like an ugly duckling story except that the reader slowly discovers that Brida has been beautiful all along, we were just looking at the wrong kind of beauty.

The Merfolk tha Draven has created here are also fantastic. Draven deftly details just enough about the Merfolk’s history, sociopolitical structure, magic and physiology to answer even the most inquisitive reader questions, while somehow avoiding an info-dump and any potential loss of the story’s pacing.

Fans of Draven, especially of her Wraith Kings novels, will enjoy dipping their toes back into this world, while new readers will easily be able to find their bearings in the rich and beautiful romance of Brida and Ahtin.

I loved A Wilderness of Glass. I found the characters, particularly Brida, to be beautiful and relatable and the story to be richly detailed and lovely. This is a novella I can see myself rereading time and time again.

Jen: The novella stands up 100% as a standalone. It was everything I wanted The Shape of Water to be (but wasn’t.) I believed in the developing relationship—and even in a short time, cared about the characters. Throughout it all is a wonderful sense of setting and tone. Draven is one of the very best in this genre and this is hands down my favorite novella from her. Excellent.

A Curse for Spring by Amanda Bouchet – This is a standalone novella set in a land plagued with drought. At just 10 years old, Prince Daric tries to take matters into his own hands, approaching the cauldron of the goddess to pray. It’s there he meets her daughter, the avatar of spring, in the form of a young girl. Unknowing that it will take away her ability to create rain, his father pulls her into the human world. After that, she is unable to go back to where she once was and is adopted by the family. As they grow up, the drought gets worse and eventually Daric must make an awful political marriage to save his people. He and Rain can never act on the love between them. Unless they find a way to break the curse.

I enjoyed this story, even though I would never want to be the author to come after Draven. Both main characters were well drawn and I believed in their love for each other. Bouchet did a good job with the world building as well. I’ve read her Kingmaker series and she consistently delivers.

The Dragons of Summer by Jeffe Kennedy – Yessssss. I’m not sure how much impact this story would have for a casual reader, but for this fan of The Uncharted Realms and the Chronicles of Dasnaria, this novella rocked my socks off. It’s a Harlan/Ursula story told from Harlan’s POV. This is a great companion piece to what his happening in Jenna’s books. It’s about Harlan and Ursula’s reckoning of his secrets about his family and how they’ve affected his whole life. It’s also an opportunity for him to make amends with his brother and it sets up a reunion with his sister perfectly. I absolutely adore the fact that Kennedy writes her novellas in the hero’s POV. This one ties with the Draven short as a favorite for me, but I think you really need to read this series if you aren’t already.

A great fantasy anthology you don’t want to miss!

Click to purchase: Amazon

Seasons of Sorcery
by Jennifer Estep, Grace Draven,
Amanda Bouchet, and Jeffe Kennedy
Release Date: November 13, 2018 

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