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The Sky-Child: A Wilderhark Tales Collection (The Wilderhark Tales) Paperback – June 28, 2015
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About the Author
Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. ...Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who homeschooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing, publishing, and all that authorial jazz, she’s probably blogging about it at EverOnWord.wordpress.com.
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Shipley does a fine job of interlocking each tale to the others while preserving the character of each. There are many nods to traditional stories, from Jack and the Beanstalk to Swan Lake. There are even touches of older mythologies, such as during the passage that describes the creation of the Four Winds. But these stories still feel original and fresh, just different enough to keep readers on their toes. They take bits and pieces of their fairy tale roots without becoming ensnared in them. Shipley blends happily-ever-afters with lingering sadness and hints of a deeper history, leaving the reader to wonder “yes, but what now…” And that’s a very pleasant place for a reader to be, especially when there are more books to read.
I am fortunate enough to grab an ARC of this book and if you're a fan like me then I think you'll enjoy this book! I'd like to start with mentioning these stories are for readers who want more of The Wilderhark Tales so if you've read a majority or all of the books then you'll be quite fine reading all these stories and learning more about your favorite characters.
We have a total of 9 tales in this book, in case you were curious since it's not really listed anywhere. The two longest stories are the second story and last story, both feature my favorite Gant-o'-the-Lute.
The first story is the story is a little song about Lute and his lute. It's cute and poetic.
Now the second story is what I had hoped to read in The Song Caster so I was happy to find it here. However, I didn't love the voice of the writing as much because there seemed to be a lot of telling of back history which I liked well enough because I got to see more of Lute but sad because of his life situation and I just didn't feel as engaged with the story or characters. It seemed like a darker side of them which I am not used to seeing and surprised me.
Holy crap. I love the idea of the place in the story called Carillon. I'd definitely would go there for vacation if I could. Seemed like a rockin' place to go if you wanted to make music. (Eh? Eh? ^_~) lol
Ok, I've been mulling this over a little. I didn't quite enjoy the love at first sight for Lute but laughed at Viralei's response. It only upset and irritated me that Viralei had been turned into a harp just because she turned Lute down. I completely understand why she did and she had the right to turn him down. No, she didn't do it diplomatically but the punishment didn't fit the crime. To result in her punishment for sort of insulting his pride and saying no to a strange man's advances who trespassed into her personal space seemed more than unfair.
The feminist in me couldn't handle that. There's no freedom of choice if she's transformed against her will and forced to get kidnapped and saved only by him. I felt like she was forced to fall in love with him because he saved her. Also he forced his kiss on her while she was a harp and immobile. He didn't ask, just did it without her permission but she enjoyed it which I guess forgives it? Those things really put me off. I'm not sure if the author did that to speed things up but maybe the execution just work for me.
I just didn't find that romance believable and Viralei was ultimately useless in the story when it came to the escape. Once she had been saved she was all willing to throw herself at him which also irked me. Those things prevented me from fully enjoying the story because these two were one of my hopeful favored couples in the series. I know the author is capable of creating fantastic princesses and I wanted to like Viralei much more than I did in this story. The other couple I love is Edgwyn and Rosalba, who are perfect as is. :)
I enjoyed this story, it shows the psychological aftermath Sula went through after her spell was broken. Like the great doctor caring Villem is there to help her recover.
A glimpse of a moment in Sigmund's life while human.
I thought this story was fascinating. It's the author's version of how the world had been created by her characters. You'll get to see how the Sun became the master of the Four Winds. You get to see more of the relationship between Raeoryn and Lumond and how Raeoryn wants and needs to be in control of everything.
This story is sweet and takes place right before Rosalba meets Walzscoria's prince and it's cute and romantic. All I can say is Edgwyn is a sweetie.
The Shining Son
It actually made me dislike Raeoryn more when before I felt fairly indifferent to him. You see how overbearing the Sun can be over everything and I totally didn't expect the end. 0.0;; Didn't think he was the type to do that. You'll just have to read it to know what I mean and it made my jaw drop. lol It's changed my perspective of him and the winds.
This takes place in The Seventh Spell. I loved the perspective of the children but I'm surprised because I thought they would have known the ordeals their parents went through. Didn't quite understand the little scene between Lute and Edgwyn because it didn't really seem important to me.
A Gallivanting Soul
I got a little confused with this story at first. It was only when I re-read it did I finally catch on! I'm not sure when it took place at first but then I realized they were scenes from a memory. Holy crap! That's a lovely end and I love it to itty bitty pieces!
Overall, I enjoyed all the stories no matter how long or brief! Even with that little blip in the second story. (Sorry for the little rant but I needed to share my opinion about it, even though not everyone may agree.) I am curious as to what happened to the witch in the story as she appeared and disappeared during the books and makes an appearance in one or two of these stories.
I do want to note that there isn't a chronological order to these stories so you could read them out of order. If you've read all the books you could probably match each story to a moment in time of the books if you wanted. :D I ended up just doing that in my head. lol
The pacing is good but some of the stories were only two pages long. They all read quickly so I wouldn't be surprised that you could read them all in a sitting or two. The writing is good but to me it didn't read as well edited or polished as the author's previous works. Then again, I can't complain. I am ecstatic to see some of my favorite characters again and I loved seeing the history behind some of my favorite characters and the various scenes in between the stories.
If you ever wanted more of The Wilderhark gang, especially Lute, the Denebdeor Family, and the Welken then you won't go wrong with these stories! Highly recommended if you're a fan of The Wilderhark Tales or of Ms. Shipley!
3.4 out of 5 rating for me!
(A copy was provided for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.)
A breathtaking free-form poem in its own right, worthy of esteem. Brief as the brush of fingers on strings, it is a worthy opening to this compilation, and worthy of mention. (Clearly it was so worthy I was overcome with its worthiness.)
~ The Sky-Child ~
The longest tale herein--and the aching, melancholy beginning to the life of one Gant-o-the-Lute. Long before rescuing Villem Deere on The Seventh Spell's roads, or destroying unnatural rock formations in The Song Caster, the incredible bard's life brimmed with music and yearning, sweetness and sorrow, and a remarkable fight against the mundane. A spin on Jack and the Beanstalk like no other, the giant is the least of the difficulties the minstrel-in-blue takes on. As a tiny taste of its quality, I give you the excellent reworking of the traditional fee-fie, foe-fum folderol.
"Fie!" said the roar. "Is it a foe who's come?
Do I smell the blood of a mortal man?
If foe he be, his life's the fee
For venturing here to challenge me.
If man he be, his life's blood red
And bones will spice my stew and bread."
This may be my favorite story in the whole collection, but the last gives it some competition. I suppose that, as cruel as it sounds, the suffering of the incredible simply takes my breath away. But then, 'The suffering of the incredible' might be a line to suit most of the tales here seen.
~ Still Broken ~
A hundred-word jaunt back to Sula and Villem.
~ Day Broken ~
A vignette set just before Swan Prince's opening chapters.
~ Skie Welduwark ~
A vibrant myth of the kings of the sky and the world's waking. I find that I always love following the (often harrowing) antics of the Welkens. Perhaps it's one of those just-human-things.
~ Starheart ~
The two intertwined hearts of The Stone Kingdom exchange enchanting tales under a starlit sky. A myth of how the stone kingdom came to be, and a myth of the forging of Wilderhark's nations are tailored around a gentle conversation, humming with love.
~ The Shining Son ~
A story with the regular beat of a fairy tale, of pride and jealousy in the heavens. I also get to see my favorite sneaky wind working terrible deeds, so this is a win for me.
~ Affected ~
Set first behind the stone eyes of Denebdeor's children, we watch the chaotic beginning of The Seventh Spell unfold--then on to the woman behind the curtain, as it were, the witch behind most of the magic in The Wilderhark Tales. Then to Gant-o-the-Lute, and a quiet conversation with Edgwyn, of love and hope in the dark of night. And back at last to the thoughts of the children, awaiting the breaking of the seventh spell's tangle.
A mini-anthology in itself, this short story following the seventh spell's affected suits the sound of this collection perfectly; passionate, funny, sweet, melancholy, and hopeful.
~ A Gallivanting Soul ~
A lute's music tells its owner a tale known to it alone, bringing the string of stories full circle and tears to my eyes--tears for love forever lost, and tears for treasure found.
Seamlessly woven together in perfect order, this Wilderhark Tales collection can stand proudly next to any of the novellas. (A good thing, too; as book six-and-a-half, it will likely stand between The Surrogate Sea and the series' final volume.) D. E. Shipley's prose is beautiful and melodic, almost lyrical, her characters as lovable and exasperating as ever, (you know I'm looking at you, Lute--and a fine view it is, too,) and her wit as charming as ever.
A fantastic anthology for any readers, workable as a standalone, the abundant easter eggs would nonetheless be most appreciated by readers of the previous six Wilderhark novellas.