Mirrors & Thorns Anthology (4of6, ARC Review)

Bittersweet pain conceals a deeper beauty.

Mirrors & Thorns

I received Mirrors & Thorns through Our Write Side in exchange for an honest review.

7. Forbidden Mirror by J.K. Allen

Two sisters, born to rule. Crystal, gifted with charm, and Raven, the only one who can see through it. To claim the throne, Raven will turn to magic. Heedless of the warnings, she hurries on to the Great Thorn Palace, where her destiny awaits.

Emulating the style of many fairy tales; the story establishes a contest (the throne), and a way for the protagonist to turn the tide (the Thorn Palace). Unfortunately, neither character nor narrative ever stray from their preordained path. Indeed, much of the story is spent simply following instructions, and ignoring warnings, until the conflict reaches its natural conclusion. Summaries help to keep things moving, but also keep audiences at a distance, rushing through tense moments that should be drawn out, glossing over the character’s struggles instead of emphasizing it.

+Strong Descriptions
*Reminiscent of a fairy tale
-Overuse of Summary
-Weak Tension
-Underdeveloped Characters


8. Selkie Cove by Paul Stansbury

A young woman, in search of adventure, finds herself in the middle of an otherworldly story. Does she dare to believe it? Believing, what should she do?

Colorful characters dominate the scene; each with their own unique voice. Some may fault the emphasis on dialogue, but it does give the story a strong sense of immediacy. At first the story seems fairly straightforward, a vacation that’s fallen flat, an experience many fantasy fans can relate to. A long-winded middle leads to a stronger second half, including a nice little snippet of good, strong tension. Some may see it coming, but in the end there’s only one way this story can finish. A cautionary tale, of temptation, and the price we pay.

+Strong Characters
+Strong Dialogue
*Slow pacing
*Dense Middle
-Poor Info Management


9. Roland by J. Lee Strickland

In the wake of loss, Roland travels to a nearby relative in search of answers, and returns with a gift. Suddenly all of his endeavors flourish, earning him quite a reputation. Soon people flock to his home, eager to share in his good fortune. Roland is hard pressed to hide the secret of his success, and ration its dwindling power.

Opening with tragedy, the story quickly establishes itself as one focused on inner conflict. The first third of the story alternates between strong descriptions and silent reflection. Other characters do eventually join the scene, but only peripherally, as a source of tension. The slow pacing is balanced by the poetic writing, which often gives the everyday setting an otherworldly feel.

For much of the story the real conflict remains vague and elusive. It isn’t until the very end that audiences will realize what the protagonist was really fighting against. It’s a poignant story, with strong ideas, and the patience to let audiences learn gradually.

+Strong Ideas
+Strong Writing/Colorful Language
*Challenging Writing
*Slow, mellow story


Next Time…
Mirrors & Thorns 5of6

3 thoughts on “Mirrors & Thorns Anthology (4of6, ARC Review)

  1. Too bad the Forbidden Mirror was a disappointment.. I liked the name! I can’t enjoy a story that glosses over the parts that would bring some feeling and depth to the story though. Roland definitely sounds very interesting though, I like the idea of a story that doesn’t come together until the very end as long as it’s interesting throughout and doesn’t drag on the cliff hanging aspect of not understanding what’s going on *cough*Dan Brown*cough* sorry, something stuck in my throat…

    • I was disappointed as well. It felt like an outline or sketch, ready for accents and sharpened edges.
      Roland is definitely interesting, unique style. At first I really wasn’t sure what to make of it. The structure of the narrative is very interesting.
      Selkie Cove is another neat one. Good late game tension.

  2. Pingback: Mirrors & Thorns Anthology (ARC Review 3of6) | Write Thoughts

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