Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Genre: Fantasy/Short Story
Approximate word count: 9-10,000 words
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Laura Lond is an internationally published author of several novels and a collection of short stories. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. After working for two years at a literary museum, she entered the business world working for some large blue chip companies. She is now based in Europe and works as a freelancer.
You can read more about Laura on her website.
Who is the mysterious Prisoner 34? Despite being kept under lock and key in Dormigan jail, warden Captain Torren knows full well Prisoner 34 is powerful enough to escape whenever he wants. Why does he stay? Torren tries to find out.
This is a short story, less that 10,000 words, so a necessarily short review results. The subject matter is interesting and it is relatively well written. The author creates a strong sense of mystery in the opening pages and I was interested to find out much more. Although fantasy based, the place created does not feel too alien (up to you whether you see this as positive or negative). The characters are pretty good too, particularly Prisoner 34 (with his strange and unnatural eyes) and the warden, Torren.
However, there are a couple of issues that hold the rating at three stars. First is the story construction, it feels like the opening chapter of a much longer book with another one from a later stage thrown in, i.e. it hangs together okay but could be stronger. Second, once the Prisoner goes walkabout some of the mystery is lost during the interaction with the new prison Governor, it goes off message and the dialogue is weak. Third, Torren’s daughter and the Prisoner start to get to know each other, but the development is incomplete, much is left hanging. And finally there are some phrases used in the text that do not sit on the olde world the author is trying to create. One that stuck out was ‘ticked off’ and there were several others.
So a reasonable start that would have benefitted from more words and development.
Rating: *** Three Stars