Title: Inside the Wizard Tower
Author: Ashley Shaw
Publisher: Less Than Three
Length: 25,000 words
Genre: m/m, Fantasy
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Captive, HEA, Magic, Mate Bonding, Cruelty/Physical Abuse, (Kelpie/Sphinx) Shifters, The Bestiary Collection
Rating: Really Liked It
Reviewed by Nikyta
Determined to escape the tower where he is poked and prodded and experimented on daily by the wizards who captured him, Rhine makes use of his kelpie magic to steal what he needs to summon a creature that even the wizards cannot control or contain. What he gets, however, is far from what he expected …
Rhine was kidnapped many years ago and forced to stay as a captive within a tower controlled by wizards who experiment on him in the worst of ways. He’s finally managed to collect all the objects required to summon a creature that could help him escape. Instead of a creature who can do that, however, he conjures a sphinx who’s powers are strong in protection. Rhine’s disappointed that Keahi can’t help him but he’s determined to figure out some way to escape even if it means recruiting other captives to help Rhine and Keahi.
This was a very intriguing story. From the start, you’re thrust into the situation Rhine lives in. As a kelpie, he’s a strong magical user with an affinity to water. However, his magic isn’t useful when it comes to warding off the wizards and after a while, it was just easier to go grudgingly go along with the tests and experiments while he plotted his escape. I really liked his determination to get out of that place and how he handled all the situations he was thrust into. Keahi was a fascinating creature. As a sphinx, he could also shift into a house cat but what truly made me like him was his desire for a family. Rhine was able to give Keahi that family in addition to his love. In exchange, Keahi returned Rhine’s love and offered him protection. While the romance between Keahi and Rhine isn’t the focus of the story, it’s sweet how their feelings develop because of the bond they created and the way they came to rely on one another and need each other.
The conflict within the story was interesting. From seeing how Rhine summons Keahi to his silent freak out at the fact Keahi couldn’t get him out of there to finally having to trust the other inhabitants of the tower was fascinating to me because it showed Rhine in all different types of situations and emotions. On top of that, I liked the author’s flow and direction of the story. The fact that Rhine gets a surprise visit from someone he truly cares about and his ultimate trust in those captives he never wanted to associate with before gave the story enough substance to make it entertaining.
However, one thing this story truly lacks is a detailed background to why Rhine and Keahi ended up at the tower. We know the basics of the story and Rhine’s loathing towards the wizards but we never figure out why they’re experimenting on Rhine and the other shifters. The characters were interesting but they don’t have as much depth as they could have. The fact we barely know anything of Keahi and why he chose to be summoned by Rhine is also questionable and leaves the story with a lot of questions like why Volos hated Rhine so much or what happened to the rest of the shifters in the tower.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story. It’s not perfect but it’s very entertaining. I loved the characters and all they go through. I wished the story had been longer so we could have gotten the proper details needed to answer all those burning questions. As it was, I liked the fact this story dealt with unique shifters because it made this book different from other shifter stories.