So much so, in fact, that by the 20th century E.A. (Ever After), most people had decided that magic never actually existed.
For the second stop on my Indie Book Tour, I have read The Beast of Talesend, by Kyle Robert Shultz.
Full disclosure: I love, nay, adore fairy tales.
Clearly, so does Shultz.
Upon first reading the blurb about this book my initial reaction was: Okay, who has been reading my diary? I don’t keep a diary, however, were I to, this is exactly the sort of thing one might find within it:
What if there was a no-nonsense detective in say, the 1920s era, who doesn’t believe in magic but then he ends up getting turned into a Beast, à la Beauty & the Beast. And there should be air ships! And a magic mirror! And a wise cracking but lovable brother character! And an evil sorcerer!
(Keeping in mind that I have actually had dreams that are just as fantastical as all this)
Now, I’m not accusing the author of reading my diary, or spying on my dreams, I’m just saying…it could have happened.
All that being said, I was excited to read this book, very excited. I actually bought it right after my last review, because I simply couldn’t wait to get my hands on it (my kindle on it?). There are a plethora of fairy tale retellings out there, but I was betting on Shultz and his blurb to do the impossible: make it fresh.
I won that bet.
The Beast of Talesend was delightful. Light hearted, funny, magical and utterly delightful. I loved our main character, Nick Beasley. His utter denial over what has happened to him was terribly amusing to read, as was his brother’s reaction (I’m still not over the gunfire). Nick was a well-developed hero, who I could easily picture and watch with delight in every scene. I’m not sure exactly how Shultz managed it, but this character was so deftly put together and full of life, I remain convinced he must be real.
Beaumont Cordelia was a breath of fresh air, though a bit of an enigma in the first half of the book. Half of me wanted her a little more fierce, the other half enjoyed the fact that she behaved (mostly) like a lady. I think future books will do her more justice, allowing more of her natural vivacity to shine.
Crispin was fun, though somewhat a cliché. I hope he is given plenty of page time in the future stories, because I would love to see him grow as a character and be a bit more fleshed out. In fact, I would be most interested in a novel told from his point of view. I got the feeling that he has a lot more to say.
Our main antagonist, Lord Whitlock was bit one-dimensional. It is my one regret for this story that I did not find him a bit more menacing. Perhaps it was the light-hearted nature of the book that caused me not to find his character to be more of a threat. Single-mindedly bent on world domination for the last 3/4 of the book, his character had more traction in the beginning of the story when he was (pretending to be?) an unrepentant, though somewhat charming, rogue. I was greatly intrigued by his ending though, so I look forward to where his character might be taken far, far down the road. In a more wondrous land, perhaps?
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the banter between characters. I am a dialogue fiend, and the rapid fire between the characters was like an ice cream sundae bar for me.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the scene within the mirror, I was nervous for our main characters but ended up being pleasantly rewarded with a fascinating twist on the tale of Snow White. The heartbreaking moment when Nick realizes what he must give up was excellently executed, and made me tear up. It seemed to echo our bittersweet open ending .
Speaking of which, what an ending! It felt more like the crest of one problem, on the way to more threatening ones. Like this is just part one, and we have upped the ante for round two.
Shultz has a wonderful way with words, and I found myself highlighting quite a few passages.
The flower swayed gently to and fro, like a tree in a soft breeze—or a snake preparing to strike.
But my favorites were the humorous bits;
She was stunning, but fortunately, as a hardened and experienced detective, I was impervious to this. More or less.
“I’d have a much easier time using my strategic advantage if I knew what it was.”
The Beast of Talesend is a cleanly written detective/adventure story about real fairy tales. I think it goes without saying that it is an original idea. It is also a well-executed idea, with a lot of laughs and plenty of promise for future books.
So in short and long, I very much enjoyed this stop on my Indie Book Tour, and will definitely be returning for the sequel, The Tomb of the Sea Witch. (available now!)
Take a look at The Beast of Talesend on Amazon.
Or head over to Kyle Robert Shultz’s website for more great reviews, and the chance to read a free short story.