Last Monday, we began Stina Leicht’s Of Blood and Honey, a novel involving the fey and the fallen and which put Leicht on the list of nominees for the John W. Campbell Award forBest New Writer.
When we last left the tale, Liam, a half-human/half-fey unaware of his preternatural heritage, had been arrested by the British Army under the false accusation of participating in a riot. To catch up or review, check out Part 1 here.
Weeks later, Liam is a Long Kesh Internment Camp and having a miserable time. He’s harassed and bullied by Tom and Hugh, fellow prisoners, and raped by one of the guards. He’s beaten a number of times, stolen from, and half starved and frozen. All the while, periodically, he feels something like a tingle under the skin, and he starts having dreams about black hounds searching for him. One day, he sees a black wolfhound outside the fence in No Man’s Land. He goes up and makes friends with it, finding in the hound great comfort against all his recent suffering. Hugh shows up and starts throwing rocks at the dog. Out of character, Liam turns and stands up for the dog. He feels the tingling again, but instead of suppressing it by touching something metal like usual, he lets things happen. Hugh backs down, obviously afraid, and does all Liam asks, including returning the scarf he stole from Liam at Christmas. When Liam turns around, the wolfhound has vanished.
Reader Comments: My current theory is that the tingling under the skin is Liam’s latent fairy magic. Forced into unusual circumstances and desperate for survival, it’s instinctively coming to the surface.
Writer Comments: Leicht clearly understands the use of hurling rocks at her characters. She gives Liam the worst time personally he could have without dying or growing deathly ill. She pushes him to his limits so that he’s forced to grow. While much of the chapter is heartbreaking and parts uncomfortable for one cheering for Liam, without throwing these burdens on her protagonist, Leicht wouldn’t do as good a job of raising the stakes and garnering sympathy for her hero.
Rumors go around about Liam that his eyes glow red when he’s angered and that bad things happen to people who mess with him. When Hugh dies, Tom gets mauled by a dog, and two guards die, people start believing. Then, as Liam feared, the guard that raped him calls him out again. This time, the tingling becomes worse than ever. Completely out of control, Liam transforms into something black furred, clawed, and with a snout. He mauls the guard and carves into his flesh F-A-I-R-Y. Horrified at what he’s done, Liam changes back into a human form. The other guards burst in and start beating Liam.
Reader Comments: Much as I feel bad for Liam having no clue what’s happening to him and all he’s suffering, it’s awesome when he transforms and attacks the guard. The guy deserved it and worse. I’m only afraid at how much worse it’s going to get for Liam as a result.
Writer Comments: Leicht is clever here. Where the previous chapter dealt brutal blows to Liam, in the very next chapter, she gives him a victory. This keeps the story from going too far. It also assures her readers that, while Liam will suffer, he’s not a complete victim. Justice will eventually be done. At least, that’s what I hope she’s aiming to indicate.
Next Monday, we’ll find out the results of Liam’s transformation and mauling of the guard. Until then, join me Wednesday and Friday for further forays in writing, books, the speculative, and life.