Chrystene Thurm

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Gripping, fast-paced story with a surprising ending

I love being tricked by conman and detective stories, be it in movies or books. I love a reveal at the end that feels so effortless, yet so surprising. I also love heart-stopping suspense; you know the kind where you just want to scream, 'RUN!' at the pages of your book, because you've completely forgotten that you are not standing right beside the character in danger? Yes, that kind of suspense. This book has these qualities in spades - haha, spades - which, given the number of poor conman stories I've come across, seems to be quite difficult to do. I also found the structure of this book really interesting. The author really did a great job of making the reading of this book feel like a game of Three Card Monty. I have never read anything quite like it. I appreciated that the main character remains likable and relatable (to some extent, obviously). I really enjoyed the characters of Leyla and Lizzie. It is so nice to read a novel like this where the female characters get to do more than be rescued by the male characters or just be their assistants. This was definitely one of those books that I just couldn't stop reading until I reached the end.

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Thought Out Fantasy

Let me preface this review by saying that I am not much of a fan of fantasy. I tend to find the genre unthought out with a tenuous grasp on any kind of consistent reality. However, this novella displays none of those flaws, which is what made it stand out as special to me. The whole world feels well conceived and -(without giving away any spoilers) - I can definitely say that there are rules and limits to the magic used. The blocking of the fights also shows careful planning. Not at any point was I left wondering how a character appeared on the other side of the room or felt suspicious of the author's ability to get his characters out of a situation. I also appreciated the characters and their development. As a mother, I could understand a parent's dilemma and a child's fears. They didn't seem like poor facsimiles, but rather people with sympathetic motivations.

I know the author and was able to read this story as it was being written, but I have also read this final version. However, this in no way affects my opinion as presented here.

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