Anthologies are one of my favorites, as it's a great way to discover new authors! I don't think I've ever read a collection featuring portals before, so was excited when I received the opportunity to take part in the Portals Blog Tour. And the icing on the cake is that I actually know one of the authors! Anna Simpson, aka Emaginette, is someone I "met" online awhile ago and I'm honored to review her story.
No matter what world you call home, or what your station in life,
there are just some paths that weren't meant to be tread.
Maronda’s Quest by Christy Thomas
Maronda's family has been blessed by guarding the Portal of Life. They enter the portal when they come of age and find their true love. Despite her Ma's assurances, Maronda is worried that her quest will be different and quite possibly dangerous. She never imagined that Lenox would follow her.
This was a good choice for the first story, as I enjoyed getting to know Maronda and admired her determination to train with the men and be independent. Her childhood friend Lenox doesn't want to lose his True Love, so follows her into the portal to help. While I enjoyed the story, I'm not sure if it would count as a temporal paradox or not. Not nerdy enough to figure it out, so will just sit back and enjoy!
Mexmur, the Huntress by Anna Simpson
Another strong female character, determined to be independent and take care of herself. My favorite kind of MC! Mexmur is the daughter of the King's Huntsman, who died in an accident. Once she comes of age, she wants to assume her Da's old position and take care of her Ma. She never imagined that the King would send her through a magic portal on a quest to return magic to their land. Or that she'd wind up hunting dragons with the Prince.
Mexmur proves that he Da taught her well, even though she's in a strange land with unfamiliar creatures. The Prince, at first obnoxious, proves that he's not totally useless and gives Mexmur important information about their quest. And the dragons! I love dragons, and Simpson doesn't disappoint. Good story with interesting characters and a satisfying ending. Well done!
Entrance of Lost Souls by Echo Shea
Gladys is a guardian to the entrances between worlds. Passing through a portal isn't much fun, but she's on the trail of a banshee who kidnapped a little girl and doesn't have much choice. Life isn't easy for a guardian troll.
The author packed a lot of story into a short amount of space! I really liked Gladys and thought this one had an interesting plot. I haven't read too many stories with trolls and/or banshees, and this was a good one!
Where Once were Hearts by Havva Murat
This was an odd little tale of a down-on-his-luck gentleman named Bartholomew Battlesby. Having frittered away his fortune at cards, he decides to seek out his only remaining relative, a distant cousin. Showing up unannounced at his cousin's estate, Battlesby finds Cousin Horatio dead and a beautiful woman ruling the roost.
While I love fantasy, I couldn't get past one major plot point and it sort of ruined the story for me. Magic is all well and good, but my logical mind dug in her heels and wouldn't let me accept the fantasy, so I couldn't enjoy the story.
Ordinary World by Laurie Treacy
Amy is suspicious of her new neighbor, a creepy little man she's nicknamed Mr. Oily Hair. No one seems to take her suspicions seriously, but she's sure that he's not only a creep, but an evil creep.
I feel that this one would have worked better as a longer story, as there was too much thrown at us in too short a time. The first part of the story was nicely paced, then the last part was too jam-packed. And I would have liked to learn more about Amy, her family, and what happened after her mother's surprise announcement.
The Lunatic Queen by Michael Siciliano
An evil moon witch has taken over the land and cast it into perpetual night. Without sunlight, the land is dying. Two teens come up with a plan to kill the Night Queen when she's at her weakest, when the two moons are down. But you know what they say about the best laid plans....
I liked this pair of rash teens, determined to save their land. Their plan is a little naive because the witch is pretty powerful, but the good thing about the young is their bravado sometimes wins the day! I liked how they got help from an unexpected source and that there was a library. You hardly ever see libraries in fiction for some reason, but this one proved useful. While the ending was a little sad, it was a satisfying conclusion to this collection.
Short stories aren't easy, but this collection is unique enough to be worth reading. Some of the stories could have been a little more polished, but they were all interesting in their way. My main complaints had to do with logic and the limits of magic, nothing else. Will be curious to see what the other tour participants have to say and compare notes.