I’ve never really seen the need for a Kindle until now; I’ve always preferred the user experience of real books. However, I failed to consider that there might be good books out there that aren’t available in physical form. I really enjoyed Ruth Nestvold’s Yseult, and have been reading more of her work. I also liked White Planet by Ash Silverlock. Now I really want a Kindle, so I can read more stories like these on a device more suited to reading long things than my computer.
Anyway, this is a review of four Kindle books by Ruth Nestvold. None of them is as long or epic as Yseult; Looking Through Lace is a single story, and the other three are collections of short stories. Since they’re all pretty short (Yseult is longer than all of them combined), I figured I’d do a single post on them. Here are my reviews, in the order I read the books:
This book contains four short stories: Dragon Time, Wooing Ai Kyarem, To Act the Witch, and Princes and Priscilla. Overall, I thought that it was a pretty strong collection. I was a bit surprised by the fact that all the stories had a strong element of romance to them, but that’s probably because I went into the author’s novel, Yseult expecting a lot more romance than there was, and that skewed my expectations.
I was pretty impressed with the range of settings described in Dragon Time and Other Stories. The titular story is set in a place like medieval Germany, Wooing Ai Kyarem is set in what seemed like Mongolia and Genghis-Khan inspired, and To Act the Witch is set in 17th century England. Nestvold was able to capture very different feels in all the stories, and I really enjoyed that.
I thought that To Act the Witch was the weakest of the stories; the events of the story were too big to be adequately conveyed in such a short story. It felt a bit rushed and not entirely believable. I still enjoyed it, though. Dragon Time was a fun story, although it was a bit too romantic for me. Wooing Ai Kyarem was one of my favourites; I liked Ai Kyarem and her determination a lot. Princes and Priscilla was my other favourite, I also loved Priscilla’s way of taking matters into her own hands, and the humour of the story.
This book had three stories: Feather and Ring, Woman in Abaya with Onion, and If Tears Were Wishes. These are all set in the modern day and feature American women protagonists, but are set in different countries.
Feather and Ring follows Lindsay, a game designer whose marriage and career is falling apart. While visiting Taiwan, she meets a mysterious woman who just might be a goddess. This is a pretty simple and endearing story, and I liked it. I’m not quite sure if I understood the second story, Woman in Abaya with Onion, but I enjoyed it all the same. It follows Haley, a young woman that has a series of hallucinations of previous massacres in the places that she visits, even as she falls in love with a young Egyptian man. It was a bit more ominous than Nestvold’s usual style.
If Tears Were Wishes was probably my favourite of the three stories. It follows a pair of twins whose tears grant wishes. One of the twins, Brooke, is kidnapped to take advantage of her power, and the other, Crystal vows to find her. Things get pretty interesting since each of them has the power to grant wishes. I loved the ending, too.
A Serca Tale: In a lot of stories, heroes are portrayed as universally likeable. Every woman wants him, and every man wants to be him. But what if there’s a woman that doesn’t want him, but has been promised to him by people that assume she does? This story is set in an Eriu similar to that of Yseult, so I enjoyed the familiarity. I wish that the heroine hadn’t fled one man only to end up with another, but I suppose it’s the freedom of choice that matters. I did enjoy the story, though.
King Orfeigh: I really enjoyed this story, which tells of a king who has lost his wife to the faerie king, and has been trying to find her and win her back. It’s written in the second person, which I found kind of jarring at first, but got used to pretty quickly. The story is heartfelt and touching.
Happily Ever Awhile: This story explores Cinderella’s life after she marries her young Prince Charming and lives “happily ever after.” Being married to a prince has its drawbacks – he has to rule a kingdom, and lead its men to war if there is one. Ellie manages to find happiness, though. Happily Ever Awhileis a fun story, and manages to balance the fairy tale and the realistic quite well.
Overall, a great collection of stories!
Looking Through Lace is the story of Toni, a xenolinguist who is assigned to work with a first contact team. She’s been relegated to doing grunt work until now, and is really excited for the opportunity to prove herself.
The alien world in Looking Through Lace is fascinating – although the inhabitants are descended from humans, they have a unique history and culture. The women speak an entirely different language among themselves that the men are not allowed to learn, and Toni is determined to figure out how and why that happened. However, she has a jealous senior colleague and the affections of an attractive native (who just happens to be in a group marriage) to contend with.
I enjoyed reading a science-fiction story by Nestvold; all the other work I’ve read by her has been fantasy. She keeps up the excellent worldbuilding and characters. I found the revelations concerning the history of the world very interesting. The antagonist xenolinguist seemed like a bit of a caricature, but the interesting alien world more than made up for it.
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