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Hearts On Fire Reviews

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Anna Hedley – Barren

Barren - Anna Hedley

Reviewer: Vivian

Genre: M/M Fantasy

 

Review:
Whip out your dodecahedrons, it's time to ROLL!

 

An epic fantasy adventure that has a character cast that reads like a D&D campaign with a king's quest:

Blair, the Human barbarian
Ren, the Felin scholar
Adon, a Naiad cleric
Chicken, the Goblin
Eli, the mute healer

 

The group is diverse and has a complementary skill set that will prove invaluable as they journey across Yarn. Blair and Ren both come across as bigoted and prone to conclusions without really analyzing the actual facts. Dynamic duo or combustible cocktail? Along the way they assemble quite the team in their search to determine why all the women have died. This mismatched pair and the tone are amusing.

"What? I'd never put you in any undue danger."
"Which is why we're going to look for a healer. I have no idea how much danger you believe I'm due."

Prejudice. Each character has it and expresses it. The story makes the point quite clearly that past experiences color our views and new interactions. The quest has many moments where characters realize that prejudice. They also realize that giving it up isn't easy.

 

There are many creatures to meet and questions to ask about the tragedy. Felins, who have been pressed into slavery for the last couple generations. Nymphs who are objectified for their beauty. Dryads whose militancy is still a factor since the last war. Mages who came under scrutiny and blamed when the women died. Finally, the innocuous Amorphous who are everywhere. Servile and yet... they see everything and share all information, but why?

 

I liked the complexity of the characters and the interwoven mess of relations between the different species. There were several places where this story could have tripped up badly, but didn't. And the dynamics between Blair and Ren are great. It could have fallen into trite, but bypassed that and gave me a surprised smile instead of some meh sex. This isn't a chaste book, but it also doesn't revolve around sex. The pace is good with one trial or tribulation after another pushing the story forward. And I adored the fact that the reasoning behind the death of women doesn't have misogynistic roots--really love this. 3.5- 4 stars and I'm rounding up because it succeeded in places where the traps led me to believe it would fail.

 

Overall, an action oriented fantasy novel that highlights how misunderstanding and stereotyping restrains and hinders progress.

 

Favorite quote:

"How much evil will you commit in the name of doing good?"

 

Source: http://heartsonfirereviews.com/review-anna-hedley-barren