I’d heard good things about this author, and I’ve got a copy of her first novel Miserere, on my ereader. So when I this short novel came out recently (or at least I became aware of it), I bought. I’ve been reading it on my phone in spare moments over the last couple of weeks. (This is not necessarily a practice I recommend, the few weeks thing that is.)
The Broken Road starts out with a fairly standard dark fantasy set-up. Lebhet is undergoing hard times. There’s evidence of a dangerous cult beginning to gain popularity with the common people. Monsters from the world of Heled are coming over, bent on death and destruction.
The nobility, however, are safe in their castle at the top of the hill enjoying their luxuries. The nobility, known as the Chanteuse, are different, you see. They have magical abilities.
Travys and Josue’ are twin sons of the queen. Travys is mute, which is a real handicap in this society, since it is through their voices that the Lahbet work their magic through song.
When Travys is proclaimed the heir by his mother, even though he’s the youngest, he ends up fleeing for his life from Josue’. His flight will take him all the way to the heart of Heled. And that’s where things really got interesting. Heled was nothing like what I was expecting. What I thought Travys would find would be another standard fantasy world.
Uh-uh. Not even. I’m not going to describe it, because I don’t want to give the surprise away.
There were some things I liked about this novella and some things I didn’t. I didn’t care for the gay romance sublplot. That sort of thing’s not my cup of tea. Lebhet initially came across as a standard high fantasy world, but after seeing Heled, I suspect there’s a lot more to Lebhet than we saw in this story.
On the other hand, the horror elements were woven into the story in a nice organic way that demonstrated just how not-nice this world really is. Frohock handles horror quite well. I loved the wasps, especially how they tended to show up by crawling out of a person’s mouth. And I liked how Heled defied my expectations.
While I might not have been the perfect audience for The Broken Road, I was impressed enough to be willing to give more of Ms. Frohock’s work a try. Miserere just moved up my list.