Title: A Year Less Three Days
Authors: Mychael Black and Alyx J. Shaw
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Length: 133 Pages (Kindle)
Category: Alt U/Fantasy
At a Glance: A Year Less Three Days is a rare Samhain miss.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Only love will save them…if it can survive the pits of the damned.
When Lias’s wife was kidnapped, all his skills as a woodsman couldn’t save her—or himself. Captured, sold repeatedly to different masters, Lias endures abuse, torture, and worse. By the time his latest master buys him, Lias is little more than an animal.
He is a creature of rage and hate, antagonizing his master at every turn, lashing out at his boundaries, waiting and watching for a chance to escape and return to his children—or die trying.
At times, Necromis, a knight of the Order of the White Bear, would like nothing more than to oblige his aggravating new charge, but one thing stays his deadly hand. Lias is his last hope. Long ago, Necromis made a deal with a demon named Bonecracker to gain fame, wealth, and respect.
But the day of reckoning is coming, and there’s only one way out of this bargain—capture the heart of a broken slave, or Necromis’s soul will forever belong to Bonecracker.
Review: A Year Less Three Days is a dark fantasy story set in a world where demons and demonic imps wreak havoc on its human inhabitants. The metric ton of story potential in the blurb intrigued me, and I bought into what I learned at the beginning about why Lias, our erstwhile woodsman, is not only enslaved but is far more animalistic aggression than human behaving now. Lias has been made a slave by the very traders who’d kidnapped his second wife, but from the moment he ran off with the hope of becoming her rescuer, his life dissolved into the stuff of nightmares.
It doesn’t take much to grasp how and why Lias behaves like the beast he’s been groomed to become by his captors and owners, so why would he act anything less than hostile and violent towards his new owner, Necromis? Lias doesn’t disappoint, trust me. What the slave doesn’t know at the time, though, is that he’s been bought as a challenge, a last resort for the beauty, Necromis, to fulfill a bargain he’d made with the demon Bonecracker. As Lias is introduced at the start of this story, it’s almost impossible to believe there will be any way Necromis will succeed in his quest to win Lias’s love. And in the end, it was, because the authors didn’t take the time to tell the story that needed to be told in order for their relationship to be convincing.
I thought this story started off pretty well, and I was into the idea of the enemies-to-lovers aspect of it because I love the challenge of the trope when it’s done well. It doesn’t take much to get that this is a beauty and the beast story, a fairy tale complete with an evil stepmother and two stepdaughters. Necromis gives Lias no quarter in their contest of wills—he gave as good as he got from the slave while still trying to sooth his beast. But, here’s where this story lost me—Lias was portrayed as so broken and irredeemable that his quick turnaround came at the expense of all intelligent reason. I actually liked these two men better as enemies than I did lovers, which is weird, I know, but that interaction was more believable to me than their romantic relationship was throughout the rest of the book.
What started with some promise ended up limping toward an end that was too rushed for what the premise of this story asked it to accomplish, not the least of which turned out to be that Lias, a lifelong straight man, is gay not only for one man but two. Is he bisexual? Not so much, it would seem. He’s straight. Then he has a couple of conversations and presto, magic peen, he’s in love with one man and, at the end, is heading that way with the second—a mind-boggling love interest who was introduced at the eleventh hour. So much in this story was excused, it seemed, because that’s just the way it is, it’s fantasy, and I should expect to suspend all disbelief even if things could have been better fleshed out. And, it didn’t work.
The climactic scene and resolution of A Year Less Three Days felt a bit manipulated for the sake of added melodrama, but then it lacked the emotional impact it was supposed to deliver. Why? Because the two men who claimed to be in love with Necromis projected so little emotion over something that ought to have carried a bit more weight to it. I had to read the scene twice, in fact, because I was sure I’d missed something. I can only say that the push to deliver this dramatic twist then ended up falling flat for me because the characters themselves were so meh about it.
In the end, A Year Less Three Days was a rare Samhain miss, with too much story left untold for me to buy into what otherwise seemed a promising idea for a fairy tale.
You can buy A Year Less Three Days here: