Mr Stratton was extremely kind and sent me an advanced copy of this book – a physical copy – to Canada! This is the first physical book that I’ve received for review in a very long time. Thank you!
Getting a physical copy made me a bit anxious about reading and reviewing this book because I hoped more than usual that I would like it after the extra effort getting it to me required.
Fortunately, I did enjoy it, even though it is a fantasy-western cross for young adults, and as I feel like I keep saying, I’m not a huge fantasy or young adult fan. This is the first book in a series – entitled the Tamm Chronicles.
In this world, in an alternate 1885, there is a magic-orchard-farm outside the secret and hard to get to Storm Town, which lies under Thunder Peak, in a canyon, in southern Arizona. In Storm Town, people who need a second chance to build a decent life get that chance, although justice is swift for those who breach its peace. One of those who meets (mets?) out frontier justice when required is Jonas Tamm, Civil War veteran. And Jonas guards Casey, a brave and tomboyish fourteen-year-old girl who believes her parents were slain by American Indians.
Until she meets the unicorn, and the truth of who she is and of what threats she and her community may face become… clearer.
I’m going to note a few things now that I didn’t particularly like about this book, before moving on to the things I did.
The “Big Bad” in this book, Nightblade, is described as the leader of a fantastical creature group, who might be a twist on werewolves – “the great sabre-toothed wolf nation known as the Cree.” I grew up in a city on the Canadian prairies where a lot of Cree First Nations people live. So when I read “Cree” I immediately think of that ethno-cultural group and I found it weird to have this fantasy evil critter being described as the “Cree Chieftain.” Was the choice of name for the bad guy group completely coincidental? I don’t know. * (See note below review)
There were also a few places where I found (other) word choices somewhat strange, and the writing in perhaps not quite as polished as it could be. There were a few times when I wondered if there were perhaps some mild consistency issues, or perhaps I was just getting slightly confused.
I was not a huge fan of the open-ended, “to be continued…” ending, which comes after a lot of world-building type things are explained to us, but without anything really being solved. Of course, things are probably to be solved later in the series and this is really a question of taste in books.
While I may have felt a bit niggly about some of the writing, and felt it sort of lagged towards the very end, in general, the story is quite fast-paced and exciting, and I didn’t get caught up much on what little problems there might have been because I was for the most part just zooming along reading the story.
There is a fun imagination pulling together a world here, with weather that “comes from nowhere,” portals to mysterious other places, possible fairies, very tasty apples, interesting considerations on how to help your young unicorn grow a horn, a giant warrior turtle and magic moccasins. Also bandits, a school marm I suspect will have more to say later in the series, and rather teasing mentions of Tombstone. And hey, Casey might be wearing buckskin on the book cover.
It only took me a few days to read this book, which is quite quick for me to read in this cross-genre. I suspect that many, and particularly those who are more into fantasy and young adult literature than I am, will enjoy this book
Thank you again to Mr Stratton for advancing a copy of this novel to me!
*Note: Mr Stratton did get back to me about my questions in this review (which I posted on GoodReads a bit earlier) and also offered to make himself available for an interview, which I was unfortunately unable to take him up on. However, if you find you have questions about his book, he seems like a very approachable person and I would encourage you to contact him! Here is his website.