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Book Review

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Widow's Welcome (Hardback)


Author: D. K. Fields
Publisher: Head of Zeus
422 pages
RRP: £18.99
ISBN: 978 1 789 5428 6
Publication Date: 08 August 2019

Cora life should have been one of privilege after she completed her seminary training, but that all came to an abrupt end. Sneaking around her house, afraid that there was a burglar, Cora discovers her older sister stealing papers from their father’s desk. When the contents are made public it changes the course of Cora’s life forever. Now a grown, woman she works as a detective and there is a murder victim, with his mouth sewn shut for her to investigate...

Widow's Welcome (2019 420 pages) is a fantasy novel, written by D. K. Fields and forms the first part of a proposed trilogy. This is actually a pseudonym for writing partners David Towsey and Katherine Stansfield.

The couple have created an interesting land and much of the first novel is given over to the world building. In this land a devastating war was fought, in the past, on a flimsy and ultimately idiotic basis. So, to prevent further wars the Commission was set up to administer the changes of government.

This happened every five years when representatives of all the six kingdoms would gather together in Fenest, the non-voting administrative hub. Each kingdom would provide a story teller and each teller would impart a tale. A vote would be taken on the general merits of each tale and the winner would secure the right to rule. Here, tales are not only powerful, but also the road to ultimate power.

Part of the plot is really your basic police procedural. Cora, confronted by the dead body has no initial clue who the victim might be. We follow her initial investigations through the dank and seedy underworld of Fenest. When it looks like she will get nowhere with her investigation she is given the information she seeks, the identity of the dead man.

Given his station his murder threatens the stability of the realms, but rather than cover it up she is told to find the murderer, but nothing more. Of course, Cora who is just after the truth, in the traditional gumshoe mould takes little heed and is determine to discover the truth even if it leads all the way to city hall.

Along the way she meets and is befriended by Finnuc, who is himself a bit of an anomaly. He admits to working for the commission but every time she ask him for the truth he tells her the story of his upbringing, a story which changes each time in the telling.

Being a story about story telling the book contains two novellas. They are in the form of the stories which are being told in the election. The question for the reader is, are these just entertainments or are they trying to tell the audience a greater hidden truth in the only way they know how. As there will be six tales in all before the conclusion of the trilogy I was somewhat concerned that the inclusion of the first two here would mean that the book would end on a damp squib. As it is, Cora solves her murder mystery, only to discover that its genesis may lay closer to her home than she thought.

To add more colour to the overall speech pattern the authors have created a world which has a pantheon of gods. Each god represents a particular feeling or way of being. Cora and the other inhabitants pepper their speech with numerous references to the gods as a form of shorthand. It’s not as difficult to understand as the explanation would suggest and makes for some unusual, if enjoyable dialogue.

So, generally a good start to the trilogy with strong world building and an interesting central character.


Charles Packer

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