Spoiler Free Summary: The Last Flowers of the Spring Witch by Shawn Speakman is the final story in the Unfettered II Anthology. The spring witch is sick. Her children set out to defeat the troll that inflicted her with the illness, but the truth of her disease is more complicated than they know.
Character: I can’t say I specifically remember the names of the characters, but I remember them the way I remember people I met in my travels and remember fondly. These characters are charming and sympathetic even if their names aren’t memorable. I also have to remind you that I listened to this on Audible, and it is harder for me to remember names I’ve heard as opposed to names I’ve read. These characters band together. This story is analogous to Speakman’s own life and, in a way, my own. The characters were easy for me to connect with because the subject matter was near-and-dear to me.
Exposition: This was fantastic. I don’t actually remember much exposition in this story. I do remember some prose, and I have to admit that if some find this a bit nostalgic, self comforting, or even preachy, I would probably not argue with you. However, I think the majority of this story’s strength is its connection to its intended audience. If you’ve ever seen someone you love pass on and felt helpless to do anything about it, you’ll enjoy this story. Even if you haven’t, I’d say that the story still holds up because Speakman limits his prose and exposition very well.
Worldbuilding: While I got what I needed from this story, I didn’t really get what I wanted. This is clearly a fantastical world with wonder and magic, but the scope of the story isn’t wide enough to warrant too much world-building. While I wanted to linger in this story more, I understand the editorial need to keep things down.
Dialogue: The dialogue was good but not impressive. Some of the characters’ charm comes from the dialogue. This story is driven more on emotion and pace than development of character.
Description: This was good if not great. The scenes were vivid. I may have wanted a bit more description of the characters, but the ending was a lovely use of description to create emotion.
Overall: I have to admit some bias in this because the content is near to my own heart as both Mr. Speakman and I lost our mothers to cancer. This story perfectly articulates how hard a person fights to hold on to people he loves and yet how it ultimately isn’t in a person’s power. This was my second favorite story in the anthology and was a great way to end it. I think the five or so strong or outstanding stories here make up for some of the others that were frankly underwhelming, and this story is an example of what I mean. This story was worth the price of the anthology itself.
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