July 15th, 2021 by Jane Turner
This review of In the Jaded Grove by Anela Deen comes courtesy of a Blog Tour organised by Storytellers on Tour. In the Jaded Grove was published on 31 March 2021 by Fine Fables Press. Scroll down for the chance to win a copy!
Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war. After years of conflict between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace. Hoping to secure a ceasefire, Simith arranges a meeting with the troll king—and is ambushed instead. Escape lies in the Jaded Grove, but the trees of the ancient Fae woodland aren’t what they seem, and in place of sanctuary, Simith tumbles through a doorway to another world.
Cutting through her neighbor’s sunflower farm in Skylark, Michigan, Jessa runs into a battle between creatures straight out of a fantasy novel. Only the blood is very real. When a lone fighter falls to his attackers, Jessa intervenes. She’s known too much death to stand idly by, but an act of kindness leads to consequences even a poet like her couldn’t imagine.
With their fates bound by magic, Simith and Jessa must keep the strife of his world from spilling into hers—except the war isn’t what it appears and neither are their enemies. Countless lives depend on whether they can face the truths of their pasts and untangle the web of lies around them. But grief casts long shadows, and even their deepening bond may not be enough to save them from its reach.
In the Jaded Grove is a portal tale – i.e., characters from a fantasy world interact with the world and people we know. Portal tales are one of my favourite fantasy genres; I love the culture clashes and being able to have a character do the same kind of comparisons my imagination is doing.
I raced through this in a couple of hours and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The plot itself? Really good. Simith is trying to stop a war when he is ambushed and wounded – and climbs through the portal to Skylark, Michigan. Jessa is grief-stricken, guilt-ridden and on her way home from a party alone when she finds him wounded in a field.
What follows is a captivating story on grief, revenge, treachery, inequality, prejudice and forgiveness. And love.
The character’s backstories are told through dream-sequences that are nicely structured, and how these dreams come about is a rather excellent idea. And the inclusion of some thoroughly brilliant poetry should encourage readers to delve further.
With my editor’s eye, it did have a bit of head-hopping (jumping from one character’s thoughts to another, upsetting the point of view) and the dialogue was a bit still in some places. But these were simply noticed before I moved on, anxious to reach the end of the story.
On the whole, a thoroughly enjoyable adventure in another world.
Recommended to anyone looking to escape reality, In the Jaded Grove is the first of what I’m sure will be a wonderful series.
A child of two cultures, this hapa haole Hawaiian girl is currently landlocked in the Midwest. After exploring the world for a chunk of years, Anela Deen hunkered down in Minnesota and now fills her days with family, fiction, and the occasional snowstorm.
With a house full of lovable toddlers, a three-legged cat, and one handsome Dutchman, she prowls the keyboard late at night while the minions sleep.
Coffee? Nah, she prefers tea with a generous spoonful of sarcasm.
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