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Friday, 16 August 2013

The Light Keepers, by Mande Matthews, Reviewed.

Described as a prequel to ‘ShadowLight’, this short introduction to a fantasy world came to me as a free
download for my iPad via Kindle. A prequel is designed to tempt a reader into trying the book or series of books that follow it, of course.

This is a story set in the dark and cold of Scandinavia, with references to some of the myths of that part of the world. The characters are intriguing and compelling, which is always a good start for me: I love character-driven fiction. Straight away, I was curious to know what happened to them. There are, of course, elements of the story that remain unexplained, but these didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment. Instead, they leant mystery and layers of fascination to the story, making me want to know more.
The events, and conflicts, both internal and between characters, drive the story at a good pace. The language is clear and well-chosen, matching the environment in which the tale takes place. There’s clearly an element of magic, though this is never referred to as such, in the text. Some hidden and unexplained power, at war with another, darker power that is introduced skilfully, drives the actions of the characters.

So much fantasy makes stars and heroes of male protagonists, that it’s refreshing to read a story in which the true heroes female. Here we are introduced to strong women, albeit under the protection of an alpha male. But the women have their own strengths and idiosyncrasies that allow them to be depicted as independent and brave; qualities that lead the reader to want to know more about them and to follow them through the story.

I said at the beginning of this short review that the purpose of a prequel is to persuade the reader to read the book or books following it. Did this one do that? Absolutely. I will read this series in the future. Not immediately, because my ‘to read’ list is too long to be added to at present. But this is a fantasy I shall come back to; of that I have no doubt. Recommended.
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