Here’s another installment in a review series I call, “You haven’t read this yet, but you should.”
All the ingredients are there for a great story, and it’s a good one. I give it a solid double thumbs-up. It didn’t move me to tell everyone I know to read it immediately, but I enjoyed every twist of the plot, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who likes portal fantasy, quirky fantasy and just plain great writing.
Let’s take a more detailed look at what kind of delights you’ll find on a visit to The Bazaar:
- A gentle but determined woman facing hard choices everywhere she turns. Devany Miller is thrown into a violent, initially-incomprehensible world, but unlike most unflappable, indestructible fantasy heroes, she does not take it all in stride. She struggles.
- A family. It isn’t often that a woman involved in complex personal relationships takes center stage in contemporary fantasy. It should happen more often. Devany does not turn her back on her old life without a second glance. She is a mother, and a wife, and a professional. She fights for her loves and honors her obligations. She has principles, and she clings to them.
- Emotional drama that neither overshadows nor undercuts the fantasy. Devany’s fight to juggle existing family and job responsibilities in the midst of a personal crisis is presented with brutal emotional honesty. The crisis happens to involve magic, but the agonizing decisions are moral ones, not magical. Devany’s universe gets bigger, and her problems get bigger, but even in the depths of the insanity and , she still worries about the things that matter to ordinary people. Realism in fantasy? Fantastic!
- A refreshing lack of angst. There’s anguish, there are traumas, and the conflicts have depth and a solid grounding in emotion, but there’s no endless wishy-washy indecisiveness or inexplicable, inappropriate attractions. If anything, I thought some of the development seemed rushed, and some reactions a little too blasé.
- Magic, mystery and mayhem aplenty. Explanations of all the fantasy systems and creatures carried enough detail to satisfy, without dwelling on description. Important facts were laced into dialogue rather than dumped in narrative, and the conversations never sounded like infomercials.
- A supporting cast of characters whose purpose in the story extends well beyond being plot devices. Each one has a past, an agenda, and flaws that drive their decisions. Their actions arise from their personal needs and those actions drive the story. Even the villains—with one exception–act out of self-interest, not malicious caprice.