Author: Talya Andor
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 15k words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, The Bestiary Collection, Sacrifices, First Times/Love, Phoenixes
Rating: Pretty Good
Thaniel has been chosen for the sacrifice that will renew the lands and bring sorely needed rain, and it is a duty he has always accepted. On his last day he ventures out to enjoy those things he loves and finds final resolve in all that he enjoys. But that resolve is tested in the moment when he must say goodbye to his dearest friend …
Though I have gotten a couple of books from this author, I’ve yet to read them, so this is my first chance to read anything by this author. If this story is good evidence of her work, I found her to be a really delightful writer with a lot of promise. Though there were a few things that I thought might have been worked on, this story really surprised me in its depth and I quite enjoyed the style of writing.
Four years ago, Thaniel was chosen amongst the other young teenagers as his land’s sacrifice. For those years after he was chosen, he lived a life of comfort and abstinence. To remain pure until the day in which he’ll give his life to support the people of his land, who at the end of every four year cycle are thirsting for the rains which will come with another sacrifice’s death, he must never fall in love, remain a virgin, and never alter his body in any way.
But, while time passed and he continued his studies and made a best friend in Blaise, he didn’t realize how close the ceremony was creeping up on him. Until he realizes that the end of his life is just around the corner, and suddenly must face what he might be giving up and if it is worth it.
I found this story to be very similar to a young adult story, and while there is sex in the story, it is written in a very romantic and less graphic way. The issues that Thaniel has to deal with aren’t issues that most people his age have to face, but not only does the story explain the world well enough that we understand this cycle of rain, but Thaniel is also shown to us through his own recollections. He is definitely an old soul type of person, who at a young age had to deal with death. It altered him in ways that set him apart from the other children, and directly influence and shape the man he is when he faces the sacrificial pyre. This was the best part of the story for me — Thaniel, facing his own mortality.
I did have a little bit of trouble with the romance in the story. Mostly, that I couldn’t quite see the chemistry. But, I also realize that that is the case because most of this story deals with issues apart from the connection between Thaniel and the man he loves. In all, the issue I really had (which was one of the reasons I felt that way about the romance) was that the world and cycle and the gods and the sacrifice… it didn’t all add up for me, and I was waiting for the author to work out some of the kinks, to answer some of my questions about why things are or how they work exactly. In the end, I found much of that to be left alone, unanswered. It’s a choice by the author, of course, and I’m not a reader that always wants the answers given to me by the end of the story or else I get upset. I’m not, and I’m not saying I wanted that here. But I did feel like there was very little to go on through most of the story, and I wish I had been given a bit more of the world.
That affected my enjoyment somewhat, and in the end I ended up finding the story more technically good than I enjoyed it. I did like the story, but perhaps I found that I liked the writing itself more. I’ll definitely be checking out more of this author’s work and I’m excited to read it, and to see how her writing changes or evolves in the future. I’d recommend this one.