Two reviews in one post! And from two very different books, at that.
Elliott Kay’s Poor Man’s Fight is a space opera, with familiar themes that will resonate with many of my readers as they did with me. Tanner Malone, our hero, starts out as a highschool kid taking the Test which will determine the rest of his life. For not very obvious reasons, he fails it entirely, and after a conversation with a lovely female classmate, he signs up with the navy. The Space Navy. Which is about to embark on an eradication program against Space Pirates who have just ambushed a luxury liner and killed thousands, including children.
The book focuses on a young pirate and the young hero-in-training, Tanner. There is some head-hopping, as other characters are used for viewpoints to tell the story, but I was mostly able to keep it clear in my head, and I was reading this with frequent interruptions for school and what-not. The basic training sequence was well-done if predictable. I’ll not spoil the whole book, but it was slow at the beginning and picked up rapidly toward the end. I went ahead and got the second book as soon as I’d finished the first. There’s nothing new or original here, but it’s a solid read that is a lot like other reads I have enjoyed, and sometimes that is just what you want – a story that is interesting without being demanding mentally. (I also just realized while grabbing the cover image that I’d read another of his books, Good Intentions, and had put it down a few chapters in because the characters annoyed me).
T. Kingfisher’s Seventh Bride, on the other hand, is something different. Fantasy of the fairy-tale genre, the novella starts out reading like a standard fairy tale. Young Rhea is confused and upset about the Lord who wants to marry her. She’s only 15 and wasn’t ready for this yet. But for her there are no choices, even though the Lord insists she has a choice in the matter. Refusal to commit will be the ruin of her family. She sets out on a moonlight journey on a snow-white road, and that’s where it gets weird. I don’t think I can say more without spoiling this, but I will say that I love the way Kingfisher plays with words.
She also plays with tropes, as I discovered to my delight in 9 Goblins and the webcomic she has done under her real name, Ursula Vernon. Seventh Bride is full of subtle malice – and some not-so-subtle – and a very brave young woman who fits into no distressed damsel molds. But she’s got weak points, which I find reassuring. Perfect characters aren’t fun to read. I would have liked to see certain portions of the story developed more – the relationship with Maria, the episode in the clock – but it’s a novella and there’s only so much you can fit in, I suppose. I do highly recommend this story, though.