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Welcome all dreamers, fantasists, bibliophiles, and romantics. Join me Mondays and Fridays for speculation about other worlds, exploration of the human heart and soul in fiction and fact, sojourns in history and science, advice and tidbits in the realms of story, and thoughts on everything in between...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht: Read, Part 1


Before we begin, let me take a moment to remember and honor our veterans and all those who have fought for our lives and liberty.

Today, we begin our current read of Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht. I first met Stina Leicht at ConDFW in 2011 and was immediately captivated by her description of her first book, Of Blood and Honey. She described it as historical urban fantasy, a subgenre I was unfamiliar with at that time. Between the evocative title and the setting, Ireland during The Troubles, I had to check it out. The next time I was at Barnes and Noble, I found it and purchased it, and, in the midst of trying to move at the time, read the first three chapters, enjoyed them, but never had a chance to finish.

So, a year later, I’m returning to her book with eager anticipation to savor it and share the experience with you, my wonderful readers. Since, Stina Leicht has been nominated for the John W. Campbell Award forBest New Writer, and I have every hope she’ll win.

Until then, enjoy her Of Blood and Honey.

SPOILERS!

Chapter 1

We open this tale with Liam, a young Irishman, face down on the pavement with a British boot in the back and a gun to his head. About him, a riot is in full swing, and he’s been caught supposedly throwing rocks, only he didn’t throw any. When the riot ends, Liam is arrested because he won’t give the names of the rioters and hauled off in a Saracen, a British personnel carrier. But before getting pitched into the vehicle, he catches sight of an odd looking man with a red cap and pointed teeth, looking at him.

Reader Comments: This is a very visceral chapter. I know almost nothing about Liam so far, but he’s already sympathetic. And I bet the redcap, what I presumed the man mentioned at the end, is responsible for getting Liam caught doing something he wasn’t.

Writer Comments: Two things make this chapter feel very real. First, Leicht sprinkled place names and terms everywhere, things any Irishman in 1971 Northern Ireland would know. Second, she liberally uses sensory detail to heighten the emotions of the scene, from the cold gun against Liam’s head to the “peppery CS gas” and “vinegar-soaked handkerchiefs.”

Chapter 2

Kathleen, Liam’s mother, can do nothing to either find or free him. On her way back from church the next day, she spots Bran, her former fey lover and Liam’s father, in the churchyard. He begs a word, insisting it’s important, and after a furious spat, mostly directed at him, she agrees. He tells her that his war with the Fallen has taken a bad turn and that she and Liam must be very careful. Kathleen confesses that Liam has been taken, and Bran vows to do everything he can to get Liam home.

Reader Comments: A war between the fey and fallen angels is an intriguing twist, and, for all I may not agree with all of Kathleen’s life choices, her pain is acute and feels real.

Writer Comments: While the first chapter was partially an introduction to the world of 1970s Northern Ireland, chapter two establishes the supernatural background for Of Blood and Honey itself, the bits Leicht invented, in any case. However, this second introduction never feels forced or dull because Leicht wraps it in Kathleen’s emotions and the dialogue between her and Bran.

I hope this first segment of Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht has intrigued you. Join me next Monday for Part 2, where we’ll learn where Liam went after all. Until them, join me Wednesday and Friday for other forays into the speculative and life.

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