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Iron Shoes: Three Tales from Hawk's Folly Farm Kindle Edition
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Professionally presented and without any of those annoying Kindle formatting problems.
This is the first story I've come acros that combines Faerie Folk, racing and early 20th century America.
Story development 5/5
I loved the pacing and balance of this story. The external conflict with the neighbor and the tensions of preparing for the upcoming race were nicely balanced with Imogen's internal struggles to find and define herself within her heritage, her household and her community.
There are layers to this story that belie the relatively short length (1998 locations on the kindle; 108 pages in print.) There's the conflict with the neighbor who wants Imogen's land--and Imogen herself, there's the relationship that develops between Imogen and her puca, and then there are the struggles Imogen has to define a place for herself in her community, and to live her life and not those dictated to her by first her mother and then her husband.
The development is graceful, and subtle. The surface story is a fun read, and even without the subtext it's well worth the time. After I finished, though, I caught myself thinking about the characters and their growth and had to admire the sneaky way that Ms Cheney drew me into that.
I'm working my way through the kindle offerings from this author and enjoying the experience greatly; I'd definitely recommend her works when asked about a good read.
And I was. Things got going just a tad too quickly for my own, romantic taste. I like the drawing out of that first kiss or touch.
But by the end of the book, I had forgotten my earlier unhappiness because I was caught up in the mysterious accidents at her racehorse farm, just how evil Hammersley was influencing people, and waiting to see how Imogen was going to break out of the terrible pink suits, gingerbread trim, and strict rules her mother and ex-husband had bequeathed to her.
But what I especially liked, and what got this story the 5 stars, is the very practical, down-to-earth feeling of the "good people" elements. Despite the novella length, one gets a sense of Imogen desperately struggling to keep her farm, her practical work-arounds for not touching iron, and how her relationship with her mother-in-law is her one anchor in a sea of loneliness.
Guaire himself keeps to the outline of the puca legends in terms of playfulness and binding promises, but manages to surprise Imogen and the reader in how he plays out those characteristics.
I went into this story thinking it might be heavy on the puca aspects, but found myself reading a more historical fiction-y story (with bonus turn-of-the-century horse racing details) where the puca element just served as one way to expose how Imogen has been constrained her whole life.
And it worked well. (Made me remember fondly RA MacAvoy's The Grey Horse)
This Book's Snack Rating: Sour cream and chive kettle chips for the creamy sweetness of the romance flavoring details of a sturdy, historical racing farm
There's a romantic element to the first and third novella. Both romances are sweetly drawn and compelling.
If you like horses and fairies, or even one of the two, I'd recommend this book. It's lovely in the way that meadows, spring rains, and sun-warmed leather are.