Crow And Firefly by Sam C. Leonhard
Short Story: 78pgs
3 Pants Off
The laws of man and nature are harsh and decisive: Unwed mothers are not allowed to raise their children, and shapehifters must wed and consummate the marriage to satisfy the magic that would otherwise render them beasts forever upon the morning of their twenty-third birthday.
With the life of his sister and newborn nephew at stake, shapeshifter Ari is trapped in a castle and compelled to accept a situation he’d dreaded: he is forced to marry Lord Dagur, a man he’s never met. A man called “The Cruel.” A man he fears, and not just because he fancies someone else.
I love reading about happy endings, forced marriage or bonding stories, because the couple usually has to work on their issues and their less than optimal start, so I really wanted to read this book.
Dagur is assumed to be cruel and when he and his men pass the town, where the shape shifter Ari and his sister live, Ari is not very happy about the noble visitors, especially because of his sister’s condition. Ari is a shapeshifter and can shift anytime into every animal, which was an interesting feature to the whole shapeshifter trope; also, there is the fact, that he cannot be intimate with anyone "normal" after his abilities show themselves. Shapeshifters have to bond, marry another shifter before their 23rd birthday and consummate the marriage or they lose their humanity and live as an animal.
So it's nearly winter Ari and his sister are poor and more or less outcasts, his sister is pregnant and unwed, they are in a bad situation because there is also the law that an unwed woman cannot keep her child, it's given away. Therefore, it's unlucky for them, that the royal visitor brings with him a priestess, who recognizes their predicament and enforces the law. It is also at the same time, that Ari meets someone, who has a strange effect on him - the royal hunter.
The story begins, with Ari trying to escape the castle in a storm, as a crow on his own wedding night. It is this place the reader returns after reading all the interesting tidbits how it all came to be. There are no real revelations, because of the cover, you know who the mysterious Dagur will turn out to be and that it all ends well.
Honestly, I thought this would go differently, but Ari and Dagur didn't really need to overcome any difficulties and just married, had sex and apparently lived happily ever after. So no anticipated estrangement or angst in their relationship, I was disappointed by this development, but it was not my only complaint. Ari, well he is the next problem, I didn't understand why he couldn't work or why he was cast aside, but then again Ari seemed to be quite promiscuous. Also, it was first told that it is a small forgotten village, and there is a market where people from other villages come, which would mean the village is not really forgotten.
I did not enjoy the book as much as I hoped and one reason for it might be the length, the book might have been better if the relationship between Dagur and Ari was explored more and there was not this instant love at the end. Secondly, the dialogs didn't flow, the conversations felt stilted and I couldn't really understand why Ari was acting up, when he met the royal hunter.
The idea that shifters have to marry other of their kind to stay human is interesting and the world; the author created was also fascinating. The cover is gorgeous as well. So overall three pants off.
|3 Pants Off|