A few months I ago I got the Indie Fantasy StoryBundle package. It was a great deal, and I’m really excited to dive into all of the books. For those of you unaware of StoryBundle, I highly recommend you go check it out here: http://storybundle.com/
Strange Places by Jefferson Smith was the first book from the pack that I read. Overall, I would say it was pretty good. Not great, not amazing, but pretty good.
The first section of the book introduces us to Tayna, an orphan living in a cartoonish, horrible orphanage run by evil nuns. It isn’t the most interesting start, but it does a great job of getting across Tayna’s personality. She is a fun, strong, capable character.
Things start to get interesting when Tayna moves from “the real world” into a fantasy one. She briefly has a guide, but very quickly she is left on her own to navigate this strange place. (Yes. That pun WAS intended!) The people she meets along the way are very different from the typical beings that populate fantasy books, and I loved that. Smith has created a fresh, interesting world to play in.
There were parts of this book that really engaged me and got me excited. I loved the transition between worlds. That was by far my favorite part of the book. I haven’t been able to find the author’s website, but I’ve seen in a few other places that this is meant to be a series. I will almost definitely read the next book.
EDIT: I found a working link to his website! If you want to see more, visit http://jefferson.smithicus.com/doku.php
So overall I enjoyed the book, but I felt like there were a few things that could have been done better.
Minor spoilers from here on.
– Any time the focus went away from Tayna I lost interest. Her friend at the orphanage is great, but there was way too much of her adoption story. Unless it comes back in a later installment of the series, it seemed pretty pointless to me. It distracted from the real drama going on with Tayna.
– The antagonist. In the first section of the book we gets hints at this really terrible bad guy who is after Tayna. He’s one of the big factors that gets her from world a to world b. And then….he disappears. We don’t see him again until the very last pages of the book. Honestly, I had mostly forgotten about him.
– The blue ears. When Tayna moves into the new world, her birth world, her ears become long and blue. We learn that when a child from this world matures and is married some part of their body changes in some noticeable way. This was never adequately explained, and I’m still pretty confused about it. This is another thing that disappears. It appears again at the very end of the book.