Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Simple Tale of Ryann

     Sometimes, though I am extremely fond of huge long books, I enjoy the novella or even an occasional short story. Short stories and novellas must be excellent at the beginning, through the middle, and at the end in a way that novels can slide a bit on.  If a good novel has a few scenes that aren't quite on point, as long as they are well written, the reader won't be too phased. The novella and especially the short story doesn't have that luxury. Every word must count. Like writing an opinion piece for a newspaper, each sentence must carry meaning. Flash fiction is even more demanding because it must carry the plot and meaning in each word choice.  I like long novels because they have the time to give back stories or give lessons about plants and herbs (think Clan of the Cave Bear or Heir to Power) or weave several stories and plots together (think Lord of the Rings) as long as the stuff is interestingly written. Short stories have other strengths: Clean straight-line plots; no long winded rabbit-hole paths; no huge cast of characters to remember. One of my favorite stories, Monument by Lloyd Biggle, Jr., was one that I read  in a condensed form which allowed the point of the story to be sharper.  I enjoyed the longer version but the short version hit home so much better. To give you a taste of the various stories written in shorter forms my next few reviews will be short books, novella, and short novels beginning with Ryann by Paul Dorset.

by Paul Dorset
Words: 28,970
Language: English
ISBN: 9781476361895

About the book:

Ryann is a young girl who lives as a sclava, an indentured servant whose life at the castle is threatened not just from the hard work and little food but also by the sadistic son of the castle's Lord. Sclava's are paid but their food, housing, and clothing are deducted  from that pay making it almost impossible for them to save enough money to buy themselves out of servitude. But there is another way, for those who are brave enough and trained enough to try it.

My Take:

      This short novel is delicious fun and one I would have loved as a young girl, especially during my fairytale years. With the castle, Lord, evil powerful enemy, and swordplay, the whole story fits right in with the better known fairytales. There are lessons to be learned and evil to overcome
     The story is a straightforward tale with a heroine who grows into her strength as the story moves. Dorset does a fantastic job of developing a believable world that is easy to slip into, allowing the reader to become part of the story. Not only is the world he creates complete, the characters are interesting and sympathetic. Once, a reader told me she liked the fact that a certain author wasn't afraid to kill off her characters.  The same can be said for Dorset who seems to understand the tension built with this mechanism and he is not afraid to use it.I loved the way Dorset wound the strengths and the weaknesses of Ryann into a girl I wanted to know more about. Even after the story ended, I wanted to read more about her life. Thankfully there is another book in this series. 

My recommendation:
  This is a great story for younger readers who love fairytales or similar writings. All ages are likely to love this story. There is some death like original fairytales but the story is chaste and appropriate for any reader from seven up. 

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