Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
They’ll do anything to save their children’s lives, even if it means working together.
Kera Montgomery is still mourning the sudden death of her husband, Morpheus, when her youngest son falls victim to a mysterious plague. With no medicinal cure, Kera must travel to the Long Lakes, where magical griffons capable of healing any ailment reside.
As an heiress unused to grueling travel, Kera struggles with the immense emotional and physical strain of her journey—one made more complex when she crosses paths with her husband’s former mistress, Aurora. Aurora’s daughter is afflicted with the same plague as Kera’s son, so despite their incendiary history, the two women agree to set aside their differences and travel together.
The road is fraught with dangers, both living and dead. Each night, old battlegrounds reanimate with ghosts who don’t know they’ve died, and murderous wraiths hunt for stray travelers caught out after dark. If Kera, Aurora, and their children are going to survive, they’ll need to confront the past that’s been haunting them since their journey began. And perhaps in the process, discover that old friends may not be as trustworthy as they once thought—and old enemies may become so much more.
On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd is such an unexpectedly deep, and emotionally rich journey. Not of one woman, although Kera Montgomery is the main character who undergoes the most personal growth and development. So too does the woman who starts out as her adversary and the source of so much of her pain,Aurora., Kera’s deceased husband’s’ ex-mistress.
The writing and characterizations in this story are simply brilliant. Told from the perspective of the “Widow Montgomery”, she is at moments controlled, raw, open, distraught, and as the story moves forward comes a woman of strength, determination, and incredible bravery. Someone able to go forward and love again, building a future for herself, others and more. But when it starts out she is a woman overwhelmed by the deceit of her husband, buried in grief by his loss, mired down by the weight of responsibility for the huge brood of children she has and and lack of control over his own future which seems lay in the hands of her father and the bankers of the town which want to pressure her into selling them her home, Ivory Gates. She’s barely coping and we are made to feel every tear, every throbbing pressure headache, every lost to depression episode Keri is feeling.
Then the deadly sickness that is sweeping the town invaded her home and her smallest child falls critically ill. And again, we are in Kera’s heart and head that just as we don’t believe this woman can stand any further pain, humiliation, or despair, now her youngest child is going to die. And we are weeping with her. And raging with her over her feelings of inadequacy and helplessness and the anticipation of yet another crushing deep loss.
It’s rare that I get pulled so fully and deeply into such a character as Kera Montgomery because of, I suppose, her state and, like all others, outward impression of her at the beginning. Kera inhabits a rigid society that gives women little choice as to their roles in life. Nice women in society are wives and mothers. The men manage things, money, estages, society, and wars. When Kera’s husband, Mori dies in a duel disgraced, he leaves her a widow of 7 children and a large estate she never wanted, Ivory Gates, teetering with looming debts and no pension of her husband’s to use as income. Bankers are at her door and no one is asking her what she wants to do but her father instead. She’s feeling invisible, emotionally battered, once more in mourning and feeling betrayed by a husband she loved who never seemed to think about the consequences of his actions.
Grief, helplessness and depression have mired this woman down until her youngest son is struck down and will soon die if nothing is done. It’s that desperation that is the impetus for Kera to finally act, against society and for herself and her son.
To save him she must find a Griffin’s feather and they exist only in one part of the territory. In the cruelest of ironies, the first person she encounters on the road is her husband’s mistress who’s daughter is critically ill with the same sickness.
The journey then becomes this incredible saga of multiple complex story threads, magic, and redemption. Kera must learn to get past her hatred of Aurora, her pain and need for understanding about the affair, there’s forgiveness and personal growth, and so much more than this review can begin to describe. Really, these women are beyond amazing as is their road to saving their children and finding a new future together.
It is labeled as F/F but the heat level is low, limited to kissing and off scene sex that is not described.
If I had any issues its that it ended a little too pat but what came before was just too magnificent for me to really quibble about that. The writing and characterizations are just that outstanding.
Honestly, if you love fantasy and some of the best womens characterizations I’ve read this year, pick up On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd. I highly recommend it. It’s just a stunner of a story!
Cover art: L.C. Chase. The cover is a little dark and it does fit parts of the story but it could easily be a contemporary fantasy which this is not.
Published May 27th 2019 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title On the Subject of Griffons
Edition Language English