December Review: An creative fantasy you won't be able to put down!
The Story Peddler
Author: Lindsay A. Franklin
Publisher: Enclave Publishing
Art has the power to change the world.
In a realm where the storied history of the kingdom of Tir is under the control of a tyrant, being a seller of stories can be dangerous if you are not careful. Tanwen, a young girl learning the magical craft of forming stories into valuable sculptures, finds herself having to make a choice between her dream of becoming a storyteller to the king and unleashing the powerful stories growing inside her.
I cannot say enough good about this book! Franklin has done an amazing job creating a unique medieval-style world of magic, the likes of which I have never read before.
Tanwen is a young girl that any fantasy reader can admire. She is independent and has the drive to pursue her dreams with the insight to ask the right questions when the world doesn’t line up with her expectations. Growing up in a small village on the outskirts of the kingdom, she nearly raises herself amid her father’s abandoned library of books. Seeking to hone her magical gift, she learns from the abusive Riwor until she discovers the world of magical storytelling is far bigger than she expected.
King Gareth is a villain you will love to hate. A complete narcissist, he believes his tyrant ways are a measure of goodness to the kingdoms he rules or conquers.
Princess Braith is my favorite character, by far. Daughter of King Gareth, she is caught between her father’s legacy and her heart’s pull toward what is right and good. I appreciated watching her navigate the conflict inside her, wanting to stand up for others while not wanting to needlessly sacrifice her position that has the power to evoke real change.
The rest of the cast of characters are complex and varied, each with their own unique motivation and role in Tanwen’s journey, which is all I will say to avoid spoiling it for you.
I loved Franklin’s twist on the power of art. Art can move and inspire, but she has taken it a step further to manifest it into a real and tangible magic. Themes of standing up for goodness and truth, sacrificing for something greater than yourself, and living out who you are really meant to be had me turning the pages, unable to wait to see what happens. Faith is also a theme found in the tension between the belief in a pantheon of goddesses and one referred to only as ‘Creator.’
The middle of the book was a little slow paced for my taste, but I think this was necessary to create the complex stories behind the characters. Still, I felt sometimes like I was waiting for something to happen to Tanwen during this portion. The payoff came in the end when I got caught up in the fast-paced and unexpected ending. Franklin leaves you satisfied with where Tanwen finds herself on the final pages, yet there are enough unanswered questions that make you hungry to hear what comes next. I have already picked up the sequel, The Story Raider, and I’m eager to journey further with Tanwen.
I would recommend The Story Peddler to any fan of fantasy, but especially to young, teen women who will identify closely with Tanwen’s search to discover who she is in the world she lives. The read is clean, without language or sex. Romance is present, but mostly in the thoughts of the heroine. Religion is handled tastefully without being preachy or obvious. Violence is there. There are swords, arrows, and magic after all, but it is never gory or unnecessary to the plot. My wife and I have both enjoyed the book, and I will confidently recommend it to our teenagers.
Available on Amazon.
No disclaimer. I did not receive anything from the author, nor was I requested to write this review.