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A Fun New Kind of Fairy Tale: A Review of “Quickbane” by Chelsea Starling

Filling in for me today is the wonderful Nooce Miller!

Nooce Miller Profile picNooce Miller began her writing career working as a technical and medical writer, but in spite of (or perhaps because of) that experience she has an enduring love for fantasy fiction. She enjoys traveling internationally with her husband and taking walks through her local woods and fields to experience the four glorious Midwestern seasons. She was born and raised in southwestern Ohio and currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana. Description: “Jesobel Vine wants nothing more than to be a typical Pyxian teenager. She wants to ride her horse, Firefly, shoot her bow, and fall in love with her dreamy best friend, Glyn. But Jesobel is marked not only as the future Royal Starkeeper of Pyxis, but as the Heart of Azimuth—the one to lead her people back to their lost realm—a burden too dangerous for daydreams. As Jesobel struggles to accept her destiny, reluctantly studying mystic magic, she becomes doubtful she will ever be worthy to rule. And when her fiery temper enrages the daemon-possessed Starkeeper of Equuleus with a hex-gone-wrong —igniting an orphic war—Jesobel must find a way to alter the global disaster foretold by a celestial legend.”

Jessa (Jesobel) is a Pyxie, marked from birth to become the Royal Starkeeper of her people. It’s difficult for her to come to terms with her destiny, which she does not want, and now a dark power is awake in the land. Jessa is a vibrant, impulsive creature, flitting from one thought to the next as she experiences every moment of her life with great verve and intensity. She lives her life tethered to powerful magic of varying kinds, connected to the senses of sight, touch, and even smell. The main character feels all these types of magic with every fiber of her being, and through the act of reading about her, so do we.

It’s difficult as a reviewer to find words to describe how very alive Jessa is in this story. I think it’s rare for an author to manage to convey an imaginary world in this way. It’s a little bit reminiscent of the lovely uniqueness of the old fairy tales from the early part of the last century – like Hans Christian Anderson – only without the stiff antique storyteller cadence or heavy moralizing of those old books. Jessa sounds and acts more like a current-day teenager. The effect is great!

There is a humor and a lightness to the book, almost like pixies twinkling and darting around you full of evanescence while you read. The author has a way of describing emotions with tangible terms, making them very strong. The story tumbles heedlessly forward from one thing to another, stopping when it reaches the main plot complication, which sets up the next book in the series.

I look forward to learning more about the types of magic, especially the illumens or spark fairies, since I was a little unclear about them. I also can’t wait to see Jessa grow more as a character. One more thing, I love the cover art by the very talented Yu Cheng Hong, and I’m so glad I have the paperback for my shelf. I hope this same artist will do the other covers in the series (Quickbane is episode one in The Vale Chronicles).

This book is a fun, quick read—a perfect fantasy for YA readers who love fairy stories.

Thanks for filling in for me Nooce! You should know that Nooce has a wonderful steampunk novel out! Pick up your copy of The Rooftop Inventor!

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