The Scarlett Mark

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Abby Lane says, in her about the author blurb at the end of the book, that Sleeping Beauty and Song of Ice and Fire are her inspirations. The former is very strongly at play, for the novel opens with a wicked witch swooping into a party so she can curse people. Rather than just being miffed she wasn’t invited to a baptism for being evil, however, Cynara is angry because the party is a betrothal celebration for a man who had claimed to be in love with her. In true “woman scorned” fashion, she curses him to transform into a black panther every time he feels attracted to a woman. Years later, Cynara is queen, and the fairy tale touches continue. She has three stepdaughters, all of whom consider her wicked and untrustworthy. They have even more reason to when she manipulates her oldest stepdaughter into contriving her own execution. Even when the execution becomes banishment, it is no less a death sentence, for the princess is to be sent to the manor where Cynara’s cursed ex-lover resides.

The Scarlett Mark is the sort of book which would have swept me off my feet back in high school, and reading it now makes me nostalgic for all those old epic fantasies that first got me interested in writing. It has strong ties to fairy tales that many readers will recognize, but it isn’t a strict retelling of any. Rather, it stands on its own, with a richer backstory than most fairy tale retellings and with powerful, fascinating characters. As the start of a trilogy, it does a fine job introducing the world and its rules without giving too much exposition, and I’m fascinated by all the characters, even the wicked, ruthless Cynara.

Unfortunately, I wish the book could have delved deeper into everything. It’s short enough to be a quick read, and sometimes that’s what I want most, but this time around I found myself thinking something must have been left out. Especially in the last third, the book felt rushed, which is a shame. Lane does an excellent job painting pictures for the reader and making the world she creates feel as alive as the characters. I would have loved to see it fleshed out more.

That said, I do recommend the book, especially to readers like I once was. Anyone who thrives on fairy tale tropes and young women trying to shoulder through their own troubles to help others solve theirs will eat this book up, along with the rest of the trilogy.

Reviewed By:

Author Abby Lane
Star Count /5
Format eBook
Page Count 336 pages
Publisher SPK Publishing
Publish Date 2020-04-14
ISBN 9780995968080
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2020
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy


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