Title & Author: The Summer Child, Lee Savino
Genre & Publication Date: Fantasy, January 26, 2015
Book Description: “I know you hate me,” the king said as if reading her mind, “but I brought you here for a purpose. This land is cursed with never ending winter. My people are dying.”
Kyri fingered the red wool carefully. “I don’t know what you want me to do about it.”
“You have the power to bring things to life. You can save my kingdom.”
Kidnapped and brought to a land of eternal winter, Kyri of Summerland must find a way to survive. But can she abandon the people of Winter when only she holds the power to save them?”
First Line: Once there were two kingdoms with two kings.
My Take: This novella was provided to me by the author for review.
The story started out strong. I’m not a big fan of the omniscient narrator in books but since it relayed tension between characters, two brothers in fact (the Summer King and the Winter King), it pulled me in. It also started with a disturbance and as a reader, I love that feeling when some action is about to happen right off the bat. The contrasting description of the stark Winter King and his dark clad men entering into the summer lands of milk and honey added to this tension.
I really liked the Winter King. His stoic nature belied a lot of emotion going on beneath the surface. Even when he captures Kyri, our title named summer child, and keeps her as a guest/prisoner in his castle, he’s still made sympathetic because we know he’s doing this for his long suffering people.
The growing relationship between the Winter King and Kyri was sweet with enough barriers holding them apart to keep it interesting, at least initially. They didn’t have much interaction which made it hard to bond with their relationship. She doesn’t even know his name until somewhere halfway through the story. You think it would’ve come up before then. Maybe when he snatched her? “Hello, I’m Damon the Winter King and I’ll be your kidnapper today.”
Similarly, I thought there was going to be some good conflict between the two brother kings, but they never speak to each other in the book. In fact, the Summer King seemed like a dimwitted boob, even though he’s doesn’t come on stage. What, he never realizes that his super envious brother whose people live and suffer in eternal winter could make a move to take what he’s got? That was hard to believe.
The ending felt rushed and, honestly, nonsensical. The writing leads towards one conclusion which would have been satisfying in a portrayal of the ultimate show of love. I can get with tragedy when it pulls the heart strings like a fine tuned guitar, but the set up with thrown overboard. Without spoilers, I’ll just say the story suddenly wrenched the wheel and sent us off the highway onto some bumpy dirt road and then ditched me there, confused and disoriented as to what just happened.
The Magical: The contrast between the lands was really interesting. The lands of plenty vs. the lands of desolation set things up for a compelling showdown. If only there had been one…
The Mundane: The magic in this world was ill defined. Kyri didn’t seem to know she had it or how to use it. Did it just ooze out of her without a need to invoke it, like carrying around a rabbit’s foot? The Winter King had some magic but it wasn’t clear how or when he could use it, whether it was innate or granted to him by some other force. And the Vargs (big, scary dogs/wolves), who I thought were going to show up much sooner, were suddenly called the “guardians of magic” toward the end. This was never mentioned before, or if it was, it didn’t call itself out as a detail to hang onto.
It seemed often that abilities and magic were introduced on the spot to make a scene work or get a character out of trouble, rather than built in over the course of the story. I’d recommend avoiding plot armor at all costs. It leaves the reader feeling cheated.
Summary of Thoughts: Currently it’s $1.99 on the Kindle, though I’m afraid it left me wanting. There is so much potential for awesome in this story line but it’s either ill defined or not explored at all. Perhaps it felt rushed because the author was trying to keep it novella length? If so, expansion and adding layers of detail and background could really make this one a winner. As they say in this business, a strong beginning sells the book, but a strong ending sells the next book. The way it is now, it fulfills the first requirement but not the second.
Many thanks to author Lee Savino for providing a copy of the book to review.
To learn more about the author and her other works, including a free book download, explore her website here