Review Blog

Nov 09 2009

Tallow by Karen Brooks

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Woolshed Press, 2009. ISBN 9781741664355. The curse of the Bond Riders Book 1.
(Ages 12+). Fantasy. Recommended. Tallow has been raised in the household of a candle-maker and been kept hidden from view because he is different. Pillar, a poor candle-maker, was responsible for bringing the baby Tallow back to his workshop in the canalled city of Serenissima despite his reservations about how Quinn, his mother, would react. Quinn is quick with her fists and her boot, especially when she has been drinking. Life for Tallow is not easy.
Life gets more complicated when it is time for Tallow to begin making candles on his own. Although the candles look perfect, better than Pillar's, the customers find fault with them. Neither Pillar nor Quinn is happy about that. Both Pillar and Quinn are aware of the problems Tallow could bring down on them, but the arrival of Katina, a bond rider, helps settle their fears.
Katina teaches Tallow to channel the special powers so that they are controlled, but before she can complete the training she must return to the Limen, a strange nether world she has given a blood bond to. She leaves and gives Tallow a warning not to use the special powers on humans and not to give cause for unwanted attention which could rouse suspicion as to Tallow's identity.
Needless to say Tallow is unable to follow these instructions and has to help out when people and animals are unfairly treated. Tallow thus seals the fate for not only Pillar and Quinn, but also Dante who has become a very special friend along with many other citizens of Serenissima who die in a plague brought in by the wraith like Morte Whisperers.
Karen Brooks has woven a tale that is exciting, dangerous, frightening and eminently readable. Her characters are believable and have very human frailties and faults. This is the first of a series, The Curse of the Bond Riders, and if the usual pattern of fantasy writers is followed then this will be a trilogy and I imagine the next book will be much anticipated, because there are so many
Mark Knight

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