Carol Severance, originally published 1992, Kindle edition 2015
New eBook release! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review.
Premise: Iuti had seen enough blood. She retreated from battle and gave up everything for a chance at peace. But sometimes peace is too good to be true, and chance encounters can change the course of war.
The story starts after the main character has tried to leave behind a major war. The world is evocative of Micronesia, with multiple island nations and a closeness with the sea. Iuti’s tie with a powerful shark-spirit gave her power in battle, but exhausted her soul and finally drove her from her people.
I know that dealing with issues of PTSD is not as infrequent in fantasy as sometimes it seems, but this book also features a fully adult female protagonist in a world that is completely unlike most Euro-centric fantasy, making it a wonderful breath of fresh air. The world is brutal, and featured some descriptions that I found stomach-turning (particularly of the tribe that creates the eponymous Demon Drums). However, none of it felt out of place or gratuitous to me. I especially liked the way the magic and spirit of the very world reacted to death.
Iuti’s relationship with Tarawe, a girl with magical potential but no training, makes up the heart of the story, while the bulk of the plot is their journey back and forth among several lands, trying to survive. The author throws you in deep to this culture and expects you to keep up. I also liked how unique the magic was compared to a lot of fantasy writing.
Thanks to Open Road Media for bringing another gem from the backlist to Kindle.
4 Stars - A Very Good Book