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The Bitter Drop by Evelyn Isherwood

Long will winter keep the light of summer from the sky. 

The star Ain sits at the centre of the universe. Orbiting it is the hollow world Mir, which conceals within herself an old god. The celestial abyss around Mir is full of spirits – the young shoggot, who freed themselves from slavery mere millenia ago. Their former masters, the fungal stareczi, still lurk in space, in the darkness between stars. But down on Mir, along with spirits generated from the planet’s own magic, live mortals and the mortals have their own problems.

Mir has just faced a Cataclysm. Fire rained down from the skies and the earth shook. Cities fell. Countries fell. Many primordial spirits crawled out of their secret dwellings to roam the daylight world. There is revolution in the Empire of Orm and unrest on the inner satellites of Mir. Anzu Menelik, former necromancer, black and queer as a five-speed walking stick, wanders through all this, looking for his three-year-old daughter. The loss of her is but the most recent stain on his consciousness – he is full of regrets for a life lived under the heel of one of Mir’s most notorious necromancers, the late Raimut Hellewege, Ghast of Svet-Dmitrin.

In seeking his child, Anzu will find many things he thought lost – including hope at a life beyond graverobbing and profane magic – but he will also find that not all things thought dead will stay buried.

Note: The Bitter Drop is unfinished, and will likely remain so.  It contains some graphic sexual content, graphic violence, and harsh language.


An abandoned series

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Listed: Oct 22, 2014

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Anzu is a feature not a bug.

By SnowyMystic, author of Fabled Hearts

Oct 23, 2014: To begin with, there is a simple test to see if you want to read the Bitter Drop. If you like or tolerate Anzu, you’ll have no problem reading this serial.

I say that you’ll have no problem because while Anzu and a few of the resultant focuses of the story may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it really is quite well written and a compelling setting.

To boil the story down so far, it is about loss, discrimination (of an number of kinds; filthy vultures!), and hope for escape from the past. The characters are very much where the strength of writing come through. Anzu suffers from very strong emotions, and Evelyn does a great job of getting these tortuous emotions across.

The character interactions are sharp and quickly get into natural interactions. This is definitely one of the more unusual "Parent searching for child" stories you’ll find.

Now, while some of the character may not be of interest to everyone, the setting is as I said, quite compelling. A lament of mine with some fantasy is how badly it does the whole fantasy thing. In fantasy all manner of interesting aspects and worlds are possible, a famous example would be a disc on the back of elephants that stand on a cosmic turtle.

Well, the Bitter Drop doesn’t have a cosmic turtle (as far as I know) it certainly exploits the fact that it is fantasy. As much can be gained from reading the synopsis. What is to the credit of Evelyn is that this world is well explored and not simply discarded in favour of other elements in the story, indeed, those elements are affected and blended in.

In summary a well realized fantasy world, with well written characters that are however not of general appeal. Then again, to those that it does appeal to, it is a good selling point. Not everything has to be of general appeal after all!

4 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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