Cover for Unfettered II taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village by Bradley P. Beaulieu is the fourth story in the Unfettered II Anthology.  An apothecary is visited by his abusive brother, who has come with a demand from the king to investigate the disappearance of a nobel’s son. There were several other missing children, but the king took interest when a nobel boy disappeared. The apothecary’s brother, uses his position as a member of the king’s personal unit manipulate the apothecary into submission. What will the reason for these kidnappings turn out to be?

Character:  I had to listen to this story for another couple of minutes before I could recall the story. Then I was surprised I didn’t. From a professional viewpoint, this was a very well told story. So why didn’t I even remember it? The answer, I couldn’t for the life of me remember the main character. (I could say it, but I can’t type it. I listened to the audible version.) I can’t honestly tell you why he didn’t resonate, but my impression is I was never worried about him. He’s too proactive and proficient. The answer must then lie in the character’s sympathy levels. I never connected to him on an emotional level. He wasn’t like Holmes, who’s a jerk, and that keeps your emotions up. Neither is he like Dresden, who’s just so lovable. The author made efforts to connect the reader, but it just didn’t click with me. If what you like is a good mystery, then you’ll probably enjoy this story. 

Exposition: This was well done. The story moved, and I never felt bogged down by details or meaningless back story.  

Worldbuilding: I feel like this might be part of a larger series, but I don’t actually know (a big risk in anthologies). However, the lack I felt was more a positive. I feel like there’s more to learn about this world, but I didn’t miss any of those details. Rather than try and tell the readers everything they missed about this land’s history, the author just politely gave us the details we needed to understand this story.

This image was taken from the author’s Twitter profile for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Dialogue: Here may be another place where the story fell short for me. A well told tale with wooden characters can really diminish the story’s quality. The lines felt over scripted.   It felt as if the lines were just there for anyone to speak, and the characters weren’t portrayed in the dialogue. I wouldn’t say it was “bad” just not unique.

Description: While I didn’t mind the streamlined description, I couldn’t give you a single detail about any character. I can remember some scenes and locations, but nothing else. I’m very forgiving with this area. I don’t actually care what people look like so much because I just cast whoever I feel fits my imagination best in my mind anyway. I’d leave it to an individual reader to decide if this is a problem or not. 

Overall: A great mystery story lacking memorable characters. If following the clues is your flavor, you’ll love it. Even with the unsympathetic character, it’s still an enjoyable story because of the quality of the mystery and the world in which it unfolds.    

Thanks for reading



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