Fantasy Novella Review: ‘Birthright’ by Tammi Labrecque

July 18, 2015 Review 0

This is a novella which marries a murder mystery with fantasy, a happy combination. Tyrnill is a song-healer, journeying about from place to place putting her skills to good use, and learning her craft. When she finds herself in the small village of Kineford, she meets Brim, an agent of the King known as a King’s Shield, who calls upon her services to help him investigate a spate of recent deaths.

The writing style is pleasantly lyrical, a welcome change from the gritty tone of much recent fantasy, and the society and manners are delightfully old-fashioned (to 21st century ears). Tyrnill leaves her horse tied up outside the inn, still loaded with all her luggage, while she eats and chats and relaxes, and lo, horse and luggage are still there later. No opportunistic thieves here. On the other hand, Tyrnill’s liking for high-heeled shoes and revealing gowns feels terribly modern. Not quite anachronistic, but it adds some interesting complexity to an otherwise standard faux-medieval setting.

It’s difficult to write a story this short that still feels fully rounded, with believable characters, an interesting setting and enough plot to satisfy. This novella ticks all the boxes, resolving the murder mystery with style, and throwing in a charming little romance for good measure. The magic in this world is intriguing enough to leave me wanting to know more. A good four stars.

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