Self-contained fantasy novels that don’t span epic proportions are difficult to come by these days. Then you have those you find in the free section of the Kindle market and you figure what the hell and give it a shot.
In Chasing the Bard by Philippa Ballantine, we follow a fictionalized telling of one William Shakespeare and his journeys in and out of the fae realm with Goddess of Darkness and her fae/shape shifting/sprite/pixies/mythos creature lackeys. A sickness has invaded the realm of the fae. A child is born en caul. Plot twist! It’s Shakespeare! And he is the key to saving the perfect immortal fae from eminent doom. Enter the Goddess of Darkness Sive, about to married off to a man she hates and a completely ominous yet reeking of foreshadowing conversation with her aunt about how she will never understand the joys of being in love with a mortal. You can see where I am going with this…
The clichés are rampant, the outcome predictable most of the time, the plot captivating enough to keep you engaged but not quite enough to keep me turning the pages. I will admit, I was driving across the country and I saw this for free as a podcast so I gave it a listen while getting from point A to point B. My advice to anyone: Do not read this book. LISTEN TO THE PODCAST!!!
While the overall book could have been better, the audio version is read by the author herself and it gets down to the core and emotion of the story that I believe may be missed in text form. The voice actors were entertaining, and there were even (albeit cheesy) sound effects. At the risk of being chastise, I honestly found this audiobook to be more entertaining that Pride and Prejudice *Turns in literary nerd badge*.
I wish I could give this book more, I really do, but overall I only felt it to be 2 out of 5 stars.