Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Aramin Decourcey—Min to his few friends—might be the best thief in Amberwich, and he might have a secret that helps him survive the cutthroat world of aristocratic families and their powerful magic users, but he does have one weakness: his affection for his adopted nephew, Harry.
When the formidable Sabadine family curses Harry, Min must accept a suicide mission to save his life: retrieve Kazimir Stone, a low-level Sabadine hedgewitch who refuses to come home after completing his apprenticeship… and who is in Anhaga, a seaside village under the control of the terrifying Hidden Lord of the fae. If that wasn’t enough, Kaz is far from the simple hedgewitch he seems.
With the Sabadines on one side and the fae on the other, Min doesn’t have time to deal with a crisis of conscience—or the growing attraction between him and Kaz. He needs to get Kaz back to Amberwich and get Harry’s curse lifted before it kills him. Saving Harry means handing Kaz over to his ruthless family. Saving Kaz means letting Harry die. Min might pride himself on his cleverness, but he can’t see his way out of this one.
The Hidden Lord might see that he never gets the choice.
I have read an amazing amount of great Lisa Henry stories over the years but I don’t remember one quite like this one. There were her dark contemporary tales (When All the World Sleeps), the marvelous action adventure series of Playing the Fool , and even her twisty scify series of Dark Space.
None of them are like Anhaga , Henry’s idea of a fantasy fairy tale. Where of course, as Min will tell you, there’s no hero and certainly no real dragon to be found.
That would be the not so heroic, real, and oh so complicated Aramin Decourcey. Son of a whore, thief extraordinaire if you believe the tales told and a man of more layers to his personality and soul then he will ever admit to or even recognize himself. Because some of those layers get people hurt, leave them vulnerable and open. Things he left behind if he ever had them at all. Especially with his mother and childhood. With Min as the narrator, one of crust, wryness, pain, and yes, someone who eventually works through his walls and rethinks a thing or two, this becomes a saga of a fantastical journey. Not just of the one Min takes to bring back Kaz. No that is merely the start. It’s a emotional, mental, (often nerve wracking, sometimes fear inducing) and even psychologically twisting tale of changes, growth, and revelations for a number of characters here. It just begins with Min and Kaz.
The characterizations are beautifully constructed, especially Min. He’s a masterpiece of grit, experience, self sufficiency, thief, and rapscallion with his own sense of morality. Let’s not forget intelligence, with a highly formed sense of self preservation as well. The one person he protects better than himself would be Harry, his “nephew”. What else he might be i’ll leave to the story. As you meet each new person, it’s like grabbing their hand, and “boom” they become alive. ,Harry the nephew, Talys the young woman he falls in love with, Aiode the hedgewitch, even Robert Talys’ father (and so much more). These people become living, breathing beings here, with all their histories, snark, braziness, snobbery, fearliness, and pain. How can you not love them?
The storyline itself builds and builds to a whopping crescendo! Each time I thought Henry had us there, nope, we were just cresting over a small hillock, before heading to the next higher mountain with gathering anticipation. That finale was amazing.
As was the ending. It was everything I had hoped for. No heros? Maybe or maybe they just come in different forms these days.
Either way, this is a fantasy tale to inhale and savor. I highly recommend Anhaga by Lisa Henry. It’s just fantastic!
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design. Beautiful cover with a special element from the story.
ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: July 23rd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English