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Monthly Archives: February 2018

“The Tattered Prince and the Demon Veiled” by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Unlike the other stories Bradley P. Beaulieu has written in his Song of the Shattered Sands universe, The Tattered Prince and the Demon Veiled is a direct sequel to one of his previous novellas. Tattered Prince centers on a side character from Of Sand and Malice Made. In that story, Brama fell afoul of a malevolent creature called an ehrekh. Now, he holds the gem in which that ehrekh’s spirit has been trapped. It tempts him with power, trying to convince him to set it free. So far, he has resisted its siren song…but when he becomes enmeshed in a game of international intrigue, his resolve is sorely tested.

For whatever reason, this novella felt slighter to me than some of the others Beaulieu has written. I didn’t become as emotionally invested in the plight of the siblings Brama pledges to help as I have been with Ҫeda and Emre from the main storyline or Leorah from The Doors at Dusk and Dawn. That said, I liked Brama and hope he reappears in the main sequence of novels.

“Down Among the Sticks and Bones” by Seanan McGuire

Among the many fascinating characters in Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway, readers were introduced to the twins Jack (Jacqueline) and Jill (Jillian). In her new novella, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, McGuire tells us about the parallel world in which Jack and Jill spent several years of their childhoods.

In Every Heart a Doorway, we first meet the characters after they’ve already journeyed to other worlds. Sticks and Bones shows us what a couple of those children were like before that experience and raises questions about why the doors appear for the children they do. It also gives us a more in-depth look at one of those worlds. We learned a bit about the cosmology of the setting and the general categories into which worlds can fall in Every Heart; here we see what some of that means in an “on the ground” perspective. I also found it interesting to see what the inhabitants of the parallel worlds think of the doors and the children who occasionally come through them.

While it does a lot to expand the universe of Every Heart, the new novella stands on its own as well. The world is well-constructed, and I loved its use of horror movie tropes. The characters we meet there are compelling, as is the changing relationship between the two sisters. The climax of the story was exciting, but at the same time, I didn’t want to reach it because I didn’t want the story to be over.

The next story in the series, Beneath the Sugar Sky, will be dealing with a very different secondary world. I’m hoping that it will be rendered with the same vividness as the setting in this novella was.