Welcome to our final, filling portion of Double-Dip Review Week! To finish off I have two fantasy novels for the grown ups that I received from their respective publishers via Netgalley. Let’s dispense with pleasantries and just dive right into dessert!
First up we have Domnall and the Borrowed Child by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
The best and bravest faeries fell in the war against the Sluagh, and now the Council is packed with idiots and cowards. Domnall is old, aching, and as cranky as they come, but as much as he’d like to retire, he’s the best scout the Sithein court has left.
When a fae child falls deathly ill, Domnall knows he’s the only one who can get her the medicine she needs: Mother’s milk. The old scout will face cunning humans, hungry wolves, and uncooperative sheep, to say nothing of his fellow fae!
Dip into it for…
…a traditional fae tale that reads like a contemporary novel! Domnall and the Borrowed Child is a quick read that cuts straight to the action and the reader is never left hanging, wondering what’s going to happen next. The plot moves apace from the initial trouble – the sick fae child – toward Domnall’s blue-tak and seat-of-your-pants rescue efforts. For some reason I expected that this would be a far more complex tale, with lots of world-building and conflict between characters, but it turned out to be a straightforward focus on Domnall and his travails. I actually found this to be preferable, because sometimes you’re just in the mood for a simple story that doesn’t require you to memorise various aspects and characters in a mythical world. There’s plenty of situational humour here to move things along and I really enjoyed the un-fussy execution of what turned out to be a micro-romp through the problems of being an old faerie in a new world.
Don’t dip if…
…you’re after a complex story with lots of descriptive world-building. While complex stories with descriptive world-building have their place, this one focuses more on Domnall as a character and his small world.
Overall Dip Factor
While I did expect this to be longer and more involved, I was perfectly satisfied with what I actually got when reading this story. Domnall is a loveable old rogue, much put upon by the female members of his tribe, and his heart is in the right place. There’s a bit of slapstick-type humour to go along with the danger and time-running-out factor and the ending left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling and the thought that I’d be happy to return to Domnall and his world if any of his subsequent adventures end up being written down. Plus, I’ve also only just noticed that Ishbelle Bee has written a positive review on the front cover, so that’s a recommendation in itself!
Next up, I have an offering from Curiosity Quills featuring gods and monsters galore: Homunculus and the Cat by Nathan Croft. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Homunculus and the Cat – Just a typical kitten saves the afterlife story, disguised as a book about death.
In a world where every culture’s mythology is real, Medusa’s sisters want revenge on Poseidon, Troy is under siege again, and the Yakuza want their homunculi (mythological artificial humans) back. Near Atlantis’ Chinatown, a kitten and her human campaign for homunculi rights. Against them are Japanese death gods, an underworld cult, and a fat Atlantean bureaucrat.
The main character dies (more than once) and a few underworlds’ way of death is threatened. Also with giant armored battle squids.
…an adventure tale that features gods, monsters, homicidal Japanese death spirits, mythical creatures and cats. Flying cats. There’s a lot of action in this one with an ending featuring a battle that can only be described as “epic”. The cat of the title is certainly a likeable and original character and the focus on homunculi rights early on in the book is interesting. This will be a hit with those who like their mythologies well and truly mashed up.
Don’t dip if…
…you’re looking or a tale with a recognisable mythical world. The world Croft has created here draws on a lot of different mythologies and seems wholly original. The downside to that is that in the early chapters, there isn’t a great deal of explanation as to how the various factions interact.
Overall Dip Factor
All in all, this is a satisfyingly humour-filled adventure romp that oozes originality. You can imagine all the shenanigans that may occur when you have one protagonist with nine lives (and a penchant for giving the forks whether its warranted or not) and a second with no soul but a whole lot of heart. Add to that war, arson and general political point-scoring and you’ll have a pretty good idea about whether or not this one is for you.
Until next time,