Saturday, January 3, 2009

Living with Ghosts-Kari Sperring

Living with Ghosts
Kari Sperring
Daw, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756405427

The Kingdom of Merafi was founded on blood between the elementals and the first ruler. Magic fails to work here for the most part and ghosts are stars of stories to scare children. Yet an aristocrat sees the ghost of his late brother-in-law and a foreigner has the ghost of the man who killed the relative constantly with him. The queen is dying and her heir prince is only twelve years old. She hopes to have a more stable relationship with the Tarnaroqui who would love to conquer Merafi.

Gracielis, an exiled Tarnaroqui, is bound to the sorceress Quenfrida; he spies for her on items she feels is significant. He is the first to notice the things in the mists that should not be there as they enter the borders of Merafi. Lunedith is a vassal state of Merafi and its Prince Kendan is in the royal city paying homage to the queen; he plans to free his nation from Merafi rule when the time is right, which he believes is soon. He allies himself with Quenfrida to break the pact with the ancient powers. Creatures rise from the mists harming people; the river rises over it embankment adding more death and disease and enabling the creatures to break free of the mists killing incessantly while plague spreads across the capital. Gracielis, who failed as an assassin, is helped by allies, as they try to bring the river under control before the realm turns into Quenfrida’s dark vision.

This is an enthralling fantasy that contains horror elements interwoven into the story line. Gracielis believes he is a weak loser, which is how Quenfrida sees him too; however, when the realm is in peril, he finds courage to make decisions that counter his master’s wishes as he sounds the alarm of what is inside the mists. He is a complex individual with a failed past; a conflicting present as a spy for the sorceress and an advisor to one of the queen’s spymasters. This reviewer predicts Kari Sperring will have quite a future as a renowned fantasist.

Harriet Klausner

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