This has to be my favorite read from the last couple of months. It’s ultra short folks–not even 25k words, which kind of straddles the line between novelette and novella. But it is well worth the read–it packs action, character development, and a fantastic world into one tight little package. And, to top it all off, Mourning Cloak is FREE on Smashwords for this month only (July 2015)–use code SSW50 at checkout! And if you miss that, it’s still only 99 cents.
Ha! That’s not even my review…
Kato Vorsok is a man deserted by his god. A failed hero living in exile, he wants nothing to do with his old life.
Until the night he encounters a wounded mourning cloak—a demon that can walk through walls, dissolve into mist, and spear a man’s heart with a fingernail.
She calls him by name. She knows his past. She needs his help.
And she is his key to redemption.
A science fantasy novella.
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars
I’ve been on a kick lately, enjoying some awesome new indie reads… first Andrea K. Host, now Rabia Gale. Mourning Cloak is science fantasy novella where magic mixes with mech, and gods reveal the patterns of the world to their chosen ones, and scientists twist ethics in their laboratories, purportedly for the good of humankind. That right there is the basis for a fantastic story, and Gale doesn’t disappoint with her characters. Kato Vorsok was once the Chosen One, and now he mixes drinks for theater-goers. He is bitter, and broken, and soul-weary, and then a demon creature (a mourning cloak) speaks his name and looks at him with human eyes. And just like that, Kato begins to make choices again, choosing his steps, choosing his questions, choosing who and what to fight for, choosing to live or die. As for the mourning cloak… Gale did a wonderful job unraveling the mystery of who / what she is, keeping you intrigued and stringing you along for the perfect reveal.
Story aside, Gale has a gift for language. I paused a couple of times just to savor a particular description–I can’t remember the last time I did that. Just sat and let a description sink in, let the images come to life in my mind. Additionally, Gale is a minimalist when it comes to world building, and I mean this in the best way. No info dumps. No ten-page-long let-me-explain-the-gods-and-the-government-to-you spiels. Instead, you step right into a very rich world, and get only just enough info to put the world together as you go. It keeps you thinking, keeps you intrigued as you put the puzzle of the world together in your mind, and I loved it. However, if you prefer the world to be explained to you, even a little, I suggest taking a deep breath, letting it out slowly, and just going with the flow with this story. Guaranteed, if you pay attention (don’t skim!), 99% of your questions will either be answered or at clarified enough so that you know the answers will come and you’re good with that.
The only slight hitch I hit in this read was in perspective changes. The story moves back and forth between Kato’s perspective and the mourning cloak’s, and there were a couple times when I didn’t know whose head I was in. I figured it out, and backpedaled a few paragraphs to get in the right perspective, but I wish that there had been earlier cues or some sort of indicator. But I enjoyed the story enough to not mind terribly.
In short, Mourning Cloak is a masterfully told story with flawed and broken characters, set in a truly fantastic world. I will definitely be reading more!
About the Author
Rabia Gale breaks fairy tales and fuses fantasy and science fiction. She loves to write about battered-but-still-battling heroes, transformation and redemption, and things from outer space. In her spare time, she reads, doodles, eats chocolate, and homeschools her children.
Rabia grew up in hot humid Karachi, Pakistan. She then spent almost a decade in the frozen American Northeast among the trees, mountains, and moose. She now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and three children.