by Austin Chant
Publication Date: October 25, 2017
Format: E-Book, 98 Pages
Genres: LGBTQIA+ - Fantasy - Western
Find it On: Amazon - Goodreads
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Cecily lost her soulmate years ago, leaving her with nothing but the clockwork heart that once beat in Caroline's chest. They say it's impossible to bring back the dead, yet Cecily's resurrection spell is nearly complete and grows more powerful by the day.
But when a cowboy she barely knows is fatally injured, the only way to save him is by sacrificing an essential piece of the resurrection spell—and all possibility of seeing her lover again.
Austin Chant has done it again and created a badass, emotional, and captivating story in less than 100 pages! There's so much going on in this book. There's Roy, the wayward cowboy who has no real home or ambitions other than just getting my. There's Cecily, the witch both feared for her aloofness and cold attitude and respected for helping the injured in her village. Then of course there's Caroline, a lost love whose memory has lived on, probably for longer than it should...
How a novella has complete world building and a slow-burn romance in 98 pages, I don't know, but it really does. The magic of the world is cool. Cecily, a witch, can do basic spells like summoning items or teleporting across a room. But the main thing she does is create artificial limbs for injured people. There's not much explanation beyond that, but for the length of the story, the physics of the world sit perfectly and make sense for the forwarding of the plot.
Roy and Cecily were also fantastic leads. Roy, while private and closed off from others, has such a warm heart that everyone seems drawn to him. And Cecily, while extremely prickly, shows her goodness in the righteousness of her actions.
Like all of Chant's work, this is a trans romance - this time with both MCs. This plot works so beautifully as there's so much richness to the metaphors of being at conflict with your own physical body. It's also a blended fantasy and western historical fiction, so well the word "trans" is never used, it has some great exploration about the characters' identities without being a soapbox.
It reminds me of a sort of trans Howl's Moving Castle with a little Fullmetal Alchemist twist (don't attempt human resurrection, y'all!) Definitely dark in places, but a really beautiful story of some memorable characters.
"That's not how I am. It's no disguise for me. And I can't tell you how or why, but when I said I considered myself a man, that's what I meant."
"I had a very queer childhood. I was a girl and witch and I wasn't supposed to be either, according to my family."
"I sort of figured I was the only one who ever--the only one God ever made a mess of."
Diversity Score: Own Voices (+5), Trans/Bi main characters (+2), Supporting characters with physical disabilities (+1) = 8