Thursday, March 15, 2012

Innocent Hearts by Jess Mountifield

A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail asking me if I reviewed short stories. I had honestly never thought about it before, so I decided that I would agree to review collections of short stories (which I am defining as a publication that contains two or more short stories) so long as it meets my other review criteria (self-published ya paranormal). This is subject to change if I suddenly get inundated with requests to review short stories. Or, you know, if I decide I don’t want to do it anymore. That is the joy of a blog. It is all subject to my whims. Bwahaha.

Anyway, this is a review of a pair of short stories. It’s shorter than my usual reviews primarily because the content material is shorter, and I don’t want to give away the entire story.

Title: Innocent Hearts
Author: Jess Mountifield
Length: 867 Kindle units
Rating: 3.5 stars

The Plot

In “The Path Home,” half-elf Bronwen must find a new home after the death of her overprotective father, so she sets out to find her mother’s people in the elf city to the north.

In “Learning to Fly,” Liza is a Nepharil girl who has never learned to fly like the rest of her winged people. Even though everyone around her has given up on her, she still believes that she can learn.

The Good

Both stories took place in the same world, and they present a similar perspective in that both girls know very little about the world they live in. It is interesting to see the world through their naïve perspectives, as it mirrors the perspective of the reader. What we do see of the world is very interesting. Its population is comprised of elves, humans, and a novel militaristic people known as the Nepharil. There seems to be a sort of war going on between the elves and the Nepharil, and we get glimpses of it from both sides.

The Bad

My biggest complaint about the stories is that I don’t really feel that we get enough information. Bronwen’s story ends just as it’s starting to get interesting; if I were a merciless editor, I would probably have hacked out most of the first half of the story as being uninteresting and irrelevant. Then at the end of the story, many things are left open, sadly not in a “mysterious and edgy short story” kind of way. More in an “I feel like I read the first few chapters of a novel that just stopped” kind of way. I feel like the story would have been really good if it had been lengthened into a novel, or if it had been a longer book of interrelated short stories that gave different glimpses into the world. As it is, the works feels unfinished and is only okay.

The Romance

No romance in these stories. The boy Bronwen meets decides to adopt her as a sister, and though Liza wishes she had a suitor, she spends all her time with her male relatives.

Will I read more?

I would actually like to see more of the world, because it seems to have some interesting twists. I was just starting to get into Bronwen’s story when it ended, and both she and I would like to know more about the Nepharil. I think that I would prefer to wait for a novel-length book, though, should one be forthcoming, or a more extensive series of short stories.

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