Kinlea Waltham has spent his entire life being told he’s dying. He’s never left his house or made a single friend. Everything changes when his parents send him to stay with family friends in the country (to “die in cleaner air”), and his hosts tell him that he is not actually ill. Instead, he discovers that he has been cursed with a powerful enchantment.
Born to be the Keeper of Haneth’s End, a small but pivotal corner of the world’s magical realm, he must stand up to enemies he can’t understand in order to protect everything he loves. His enemies want something besides Kinlea’s death, but he’s not sure what. Their perplexing actions endanger his Keep, the world, and even magic itself. It’s his job to stop them, for without Kinlea to stand in the way, everything might fold in upon itself, and the world might have to learn the true meaning of the words “the end.”
This book took me a little while to get through, mostly because I never felt like I knew where it was going, what it was doing, and how I was meant to feel about it. It often came off as a bit of a mashup of myths, citing fairies, witches, gnomes, goblins, Death, and magic realms. As you can imagine, this kind of all inclusive fantasy world is not one I’ve encountered often and though at times it did feel as though it was perhaps too much, there were other times when Diehl handled the magic of her world brilliantly.
For starters, she’s made the hero of her book, Kinlea, charming and innocent in all the right ways. He’s loyal to his position as Keeper of Haneth’s End, a job that requires he keep balance between the magic realm and the realm of reality, keeping the magic creatures from misbehaving and spilling out into our world to cause mischief and trouble through the opening in Haneth’s End. He’s witty and knowledgeable of what his position entails as we see from his dealings with the Goblin King, and he takes just enough risks to make him interesting. He’s often thinking he’s at Death’s door anyway since from his birth, he’s been told he’s sickly and will die, and so he often feels he has little to lose which can make him foolishly bold at times. But that makes for great reading.
While the beginning of the book is establishing the world, Kinlea’s place, and the big conflict that will send him on his hero’s journey, the middle of the book really shines leaving the reader with some impressive and memorable moments. My favorite, hands down was the pool of dragon tears. It’s stayed with me since I read it. And I cannot stop picturing it.
I’ll admit, the overall storyline got a bit convoluted when the magic war began but it proceeded to resolve itself quite cleanly, and I came to appreciate Kinlea’s connection to the land and the weight of his obligation to it.
If I might speak of formatting for a moment, this is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read in PDF. The chapters are often decorated with artwork, pictures, sketches, that made it so pleasurable. In fact, much of the story felt familiar, like an old fairytale I might have been told in my childhood, and in that aspect, I thoroughly enjoyed it. My rating: C+.
Available from Drollerie Press.