Sacrificial Oath – Terri Rochenski (4 Stars)
After reading the entire anthology, I really feel this story is the perfect place to start out from. The story has a strong fable feel to it and I can definitely see where the cover image inspired the story. Some great references to the red so prevalent in the image throughout the tale. The well-written story follows the MC, Alesuela as she comes to grips with the sacrifice she has to make for the good of her father, the King, and their people. I don’t do spoilers in my reviews, so I wont give more plot detail than that, but I will say the internal conflict was well done, and Alesuela’s emotions really shine through. Overall, I would have preferred a bit more “action”, but this tale seemed to be more morality “fairy tale” based than most fantasy, which was a nice change of pace.
The Amulet of Ormisez – J. Keller Ford (4 Stars)
As most of you know, I am a huge fan of selkie tales, so I had a special place in my heart for this story. Like the opening tale, this one was set in a more traditional historical fantasy backdrop and focused on the story of two brothers, Elton and Cayden Fletcher. The author does a tremendous job with the characterizations of the two brothers, and as a reader, I felt drawn into the conflict unfolding and invested in the characters and their journey. The ending sweet and the potential relationship for Elton was a nice touch, though I did feel everything worked out a little too perfectly and fortuitously. Overall, a satisfying little story.
Birthright – Lynda R. Young (4 stars)
The third story in the anthology was decidedly different from the previous two, with a more “supernatural” feel to it, which was a nice surprise for me. The story held my attention and I was intrigued by the mystery of Christa’s heritage from beginning to end. I did feel some of the events in the story went a bit too quickly for me to really “believe” it, and I think I might have liked this one a little more had it been a bit longer and the story more drawn out. The author could have easily made this one into a satisfying novel, in my opinion.
Petrified – Kelly Said (4.5 Stars)
I really enjoyed this tale snuggled at the center of the anthology. Kelly Said does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into the world of her main character, a young healer named Locklyn. Here is another story in the anthology I think could have easily been made longer, mostly because the world building was so strong, the intrigue so intense, I wanted to know more about the world the author introduced to us here. I also felt the romantic relationship progressed a bit swiftly for my tastes, but the way the rest of the story was weaved more than made up for that small shortcoming. Plus, I just love me a strong female lead 🙂
Last Winter Red – Jennifer M. Eaton (5 Stars)
I think this has to be my favorite story in the book. I really enjoyed the more dystopian feel to this one, and I found the twist up at the end to be just perfect for the tale. It is rare to find a good dystopian in short form as there is generally so much world building necessary to really pull it off well. In this instance, I found the back story to be just enough to keep me intrigued and wondering while not boring me with useless details for the sake of story length. I would be interested in reading more about this world Ms. Eaton creates for us in this one.
Escort To Insanity – J.A. Belfield (5 stars)
The final tale in this anthology comes from the author of the Holloway Pack series, J.A.Belfield, and the story contains all the things I have come to expect from Ms. Belfield’s writing. The main character, Cole (short for Nicole) decides to hire an escort to take her to a party she doesn’t really want to attend. While this short does not involved the famed Holloway pack, it does involve shifters. The action and suspense were nicely peppered throughout the story and the voice is spot on. I really enjoyed this one despite thinking I would miss the focus of the story being on Jem and Sean from the Pack. A great ending to the anthology!