Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Approximate word count: 10-11,000 words
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“Melinda Brasher spends her time writing fiction, traveling, and teaching English as a second language in places like Poland, Mexico, the Czech Republic, and Arizona. Her talents include navigating by old-fashioned map, combining up to three languages in a single incomprehensible sentence, and dealing cards really, really fast. Her short fiction and travel writing appear in Ellipsis Literature and Art, Enchanted Conversation, Go Nomad, International Living, and others.”
“The day the hill tiger attacks young Hala realizes excitedly that she may have the gift. As time passes, however, she wonders what good it is: a power that manifests itself only in the ability to accidentally summon animals at inconvenient times. The local mage hasn't been able to teach her to control it, and she can't even reliably summon her own sheep. Then one day she returns home to find a black-cloaked stranger holding her village under a terrible spell. Alone, she must find a way to save her family, her friends, and the boy who has finally begun to notice her.”
This short story is a prequel to Far-Knowing: A Young Adult Fantasy Novel. It gives us an introduction to the fantasy world the author has created and the evil Chaos Mage that is terrorizing the kingdom with insights from the victims’ point of view. Hala is a young girl who has yet to figure out how to control her psychic gift, which seems rather pointless to her at the time, and the local mage is having a difficult time teaching her how to access and master her power.
The plot moves fast and gives readers a nice introduction to how magic works in this world. The Chaos Mage seems larger than life and evil to the core. It’s going to be interesting to see how this village rises from the ashes and watch Hala come into her own as a magic-wielder as the story progresses.
No significant errors.
Rating: **** Four stars