Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A curse threatens the Winter Kingdom.
A brother is turned to ice.
A rebel uprising is on the horizon.
Marble-maker Rye Cunnings is at the center of it all—and doesn’t know it.
He doesn’t know he’s the lost summer prince. Doesn’t know his blood can unlock Winter’s curse. Doesn’t know why the marbles he makes flutter with magic. All he thinks is that he’s crazy. That he sees things others don’t, like dragons and strange markings on his skin.
But when a dark dragon snatches away Rye’s only friend Milo, he is forced to face the crazy in his life and figure out a way to bring Milo back.
Help comes in the form of Cerdic Leit, a warrior who finds Rye to take him “home” to the Telluric Realm and their kind. All Rye has to do is follow him into Gatreau, the gateway to the four Telluric kingdoms, and all his questions will be answered.
In the hopes of saving Milo, Rye steps into this new and dangerous world. A world where he learns of the Tellurics and their Hansian foes. A world that is swept up in a bitter battle of justice and hate.
And a world that won’t let Rye leave again.
I adore a wonderful fantasy saga and Anyta Sunday’s latest novel, Locked, has all the markings of making it into my top fantasy list. Its the first in her new series, Telluric Realm, and it sets the ground work not only for her series universe, which includes multiple dimensions, but a cast of characters complete with dragons, kingdoms at war, lost princes and curses that will break your heart.
We jump into Rye’s life as he’s running, fleeing actually, towards the comfort of his marble shop, Marvels Marbles:
Rye Cunnings shivered and hoofed it down the cobblestone road, fixed on the slice of his marble store ahead. This was just another morning. Just another morning.
A drizzly dawn fingered through the low-hanging mist creeping along Bristol’s narrow streets. Lamppost lights flickered and blinked out, sucking their murky reflections from deep puddles. Rain hit Rye’s neck and face and the palm he pressed against his chest. The drops snaked down his sleeve and mixed with the blood at his wrist. It tingled, and Rye dabbed his cuff over the cut—a circle intersected with twelve loops.
A cut that he’d gouged out with his keys, following the shimmery pattern that had marked his skin for as long as he could remember.
Already, the author has told us so many things, there’s a spooky pattern playing out in Rye’s life, he has an odd design on his wrist and his cuts the pattern repeatedly. That’s just the opening paragraphs, the following ones just cement your curiosity about this haunted man, the incredible marbles he makes that give him so much peace and perhaps act as a balm in more ways than one.
The action starts in too. Anyta Sunday is not content to “tell you” but picks up the pace of her narrative (which was already fast), to whip along at dragon flight speed. There is plenty of action, oodles of subterfuge, political bad history between the kingdoms, lost princes and other back history for the author to lay out. Oh and romances as well. Three of them to be exact if I’m following the threads here, not just the main characters, which is a total delight.
But, a cautionary note, the romances are of the slow building type. You can see it happening, the chemistry the author has created between several couples in her story is delicious. Its the wonderful dialogs, great scenes, that deliver in some cases (ok, more than one) the prickliness and snark, the huge misunderstandings and the betrayals, but the actual falling, verbally, in love? The commitment and the kissing? Don’t expect to see here. It will have to be won, and too much will have occurred between all of the characters here for that to have happened. Trusts need to be rebuilt, and in some cases, people will need to be…well never mind, laughing, I’ll let those bits to the story and storyteller.
As I said before this is a long tale, with a saga’s worth a world building to layout for the reader. At times, it gets a bit bogged down under the weight but it quickly picks up steam again. And, honestly, you need that information later on in the story and series.
Sunday’s descriptions of fights and action are tremendous, I see the action happening as though it was just in front of me. There are more than a few white-knuckle moments here and they were outstanding in making me wonder at the outcome, for the book and our hero (even as I knew there was a sequel coming).
Only the ending left me a little hanging. It felt less complete and more like a setup for the next story. Its really the only reason this story didn’t get a 5 star rating. But I suppose that as saga’s go, I’ll settle for that and eagerly await the next installment in the Telluric Realm.
I’ll leave you with a dream that Rye constantly has:
He lay back, practiced emptying his mind, and tossed and turned toward sleep.
Then, like a heavy weight plunging into deep water, Rye sank into The Dream.
She was there again, standing in a narrow alley, a slip of light overhead and a black shaft gripped in her hand. She held herself straight, chin up, honeycomb hair spilling over her shoulders. With a flick of her wrist, the shaft extended to the length of a cane and she stilled, statuesque for a long moment, and then spun into a fluid dance, the sharp end of the shaft cutting easily into the ground.
From inside her coat she pulled a vial and poured a glittering fluid over the markings she’d made. She flipped the shaft to its bristly end and traced the glitter over the wreath of symbols at her feet.
She came close, filling his vision.
“Shhh,” she said softly. “He won’t get you.”
His vision blurred to a curtain of golden hair, then sharpened, and her figure shrank away. The edges of the dream warped, distorted. There was a flash of orange light, followed by the woman’s wretched, agonized scream.
The alley entrance darkened as a scaled body slunk past, and then swiveled…
Fierce black eyes glared at him through thick plumes of smoke. One massive ball of fire shot out and bounced back at him. The dragon reared back, wings shooting out, belly expanding. Its jaws parted, jetting out a mighty burst of flame…
Again, the fire bounced.
The ground shook as the animal slammed against the alley entrance and roared. Then he flew overhead, diving down toward them. Again, something blocked him. Over and over he tried, retreating and slamming, retreating and slamming, retreating. . .
The dream warbled again, jerky
Do I recommend this book? Absolutely! Its exciting, its adventurous, highly imaginative and kept me glued to my Kindle until it was over. Just how I love my fantasy tales to be told.
Cover Design: Natasha Snow is lovely, with just a hint of the designs that cover Rye’s body.
Map Design: Renflowergrapx
Sales Links: Amazon