Book Review: Aphanasian Stories by Rhonda Parrish

AphanasianStories-coverTitle: Aphanasian Stories
Author: Rhonda Parrish
Genre: Fantasy, Short Story Collection
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon (Kindle), Amazon (Paperback)
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Three of Rhonda Parrish’s beloved Aphanasian stories brought together in one collection for the first time!

A Love Story: Z’thandra, a swamp elf living with the Reptar, discovers a human near the village. When she falls in love with him, she faces the most difficult choice of her life, a decision that will affect the Reptar for generations.

Lost and Found: Xavier, the escaped subject of a madman’s experiments, and Colby, a young lady on a mission to save her brother, must combine their efforts to elude capture and recover the magical artifact that will save Colby’s brother before it’s too late.

Sister Margaret: A vampire hunter and a half-incubus swordsman are hired by a priestess to kill the undead pimp that is extorting, torturing and murdering vulnerable girls.

Aphanasian Stories is a collection of novellas and short stories set in the world of Aphanasia, a highly imaginative, entertaining fantasy world. There are three stories in this collection, and I’ll talk about each of them seperately.

In “A Love Story”, Z’thandra is the last of her kind, swamp elves, which puts her in an almost impossible positions as she tries to live a peaceful life with her foster parents, who are both Reptars. Z’thandra is a genuinely kind person, but the Reptars aren’t so pleased to have her in their minds, blaming her for God knows what, and giving her severe punishments whenever she does something wrong. Especially her foster sister, Orga, is keen on tormenting her. But throughout all that, Z’thandra remains nice and friendly, even when she’s send on scavenger service after someone gets hurt due to Orga’s doing. Z’thandra meets a stranger in the swamp, and they become fast friends. But when he tells Z’thandra he loves her, and forces her to betray her own village for love, that might be a choice she’s not willing to take.

“Lost and Found” is another novella, this time about Xavier, who scarcely escaped the Scholar’s experiments. The Scholar is a madman doing all sorts of wacky stuff in the name of science. Colby helps rescue him, but she’s on a quest of her own. Her brother drunk vampire blood, and now she must find a magical stone that fits inside his sword, and that stone is the only thing that can save her brother, Bayne’s life. Xavier agrees to help Colby, and together they travel to the Reptar village, where the stone is kept, hunted down by the Scholar who wants his test subject back…

The last story, “Sister Margaret”, is a short story, and it’s a bit of a shame. Just about ten pages, but the story requires double of that to explain everything thoroughly. It’s also strange to read that story in this collection, given that the previous two were novellas. Sister Magaret, a whore turned nun, has hired the help of two assassins to take out a vicious vampire praying on her girls. But not everything is the way it seems…

I liked “A Love Story” best. Z’thandra was a likeable character, and there was something sad about her being the last of her kind. The story was about 70 pages long total, and it had a decent start, middle and end. The side characters were intriguing as well, and I loved the ending. The writing was great, fast-paced, not lingering on unimportant details but it did paint the scenes out when necessary. “Lost and Found” wasn’t that bad either, although I had trouble picturing the way Xavier looked like. I did like reading about Colby, and her journey to save her brother.

“Sister Margaret” had great potential, but it should’ve been longer. As it stands now, too much was left unexplained for me. It also didn’t fit in that well considering the length of the other two stories.

All in all, this book showed the author’s extraordinary imagination, eye for detail, ability to craft an intriguing fantasy world, and to create interesting characters. I’m eager to read her first full-length novel set in the world of Aphanasia. The setting certainly has great potential for further stories.

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