Title: Bat’s Children
Author: Sylvia A. Winters
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 57 Pages
At a Glance: Bat’s Children is a quick trip into history with some flawed and interesting characters I’d have loved to spend more time with.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Arwel and his family are bad stock, everyone knows it and they’re happy to say it—but left with a towering debt and no means to pay it, survival means living on the wrong side of the law. Arwel has little doubt his life will end via the hangman’s noose, but the risk of execution is better than the alternative.
Tomi makes a living buying and selling pretty things, including those that Arwel passes along from his roadway victims. Tomi has few morals when it comes to business, and if buying stolen goods brings him closer to Arwel, so much the better.
Then one night a robbery goes wrong, and Arwel finds himself on the brink of losing everything he holds dear, including his life, and Tomi doesn’t know if he’ll ever see him again.
Review: If you’ve ever finished a short story and one of the best compliments you can pay it is that you wish it’d have been longer, that was Bat’s Children for me. But that’s not to say this isn’t a complete story in itself—it is. That’s only to say that I’d have gladly spent more time in the world Sylvia A. Winters portrayed, with Ceryn, Emyr, Arwel and Tomi.
Set in Wales in the time of highwaymen who held up travelers at gunpoint and unburdened them of their valuables with a cool efficiency, this is a historical piece that isn’t steeped in details of the time, though it offers just enough to plant, and then solidify, the concept that these characters exist in a Wales of long ago. Ceryn, Emyr and Arwel do what they have to do, what their disadvantaged childhood demands of them to pay off their dead father’s gambling debts. They rob from the privileged and sell the spoils for ready coin, barely enough to survive on. The beauty of this story for me is in the antihero and how I not only wanted the characters who should, by rights, be thought of as the villains, to not only come out ahead but to find some measure of happiness as well. Winters gives readers plenty to pin their emotions on, the dramatic arc of the story being both poignant and, before all was said and done, a sweet and satisfying ending to the tale.
I loved the juxtaposition of Arwel and Tomi, as highwayman and businessman, and the conundrum of reputation and social position. There’s a fine line drawn between the upstanding entrepreneur and the thief, and that line was often a moral blur. Tomi is the broker with whom Arwel trades his stolen goods, and while there is a romantic arc to the storyline between these two men, their relationship is more subtle than overtly sentimental; though, that’s not to say there aren’t some lovely moments between them. There is no question of how these two feel about each other—their actions spoke louder than words as the tension and danger built, leaving no doubt that there was a deeper well of emotions there between them. Just don’t go looking for anything explicit, though, as their intimate scenes aren’t portrayed on-page.
Sylvia A. Winters tells a tale in Bat’s Children—which is not a paranormal story and has nothing to do with vampires (because my brain went there, duh)—that kept me glued to my Kindle from beginning to end. If you like historical fiction on the instant gratification scale, this is a quick trip into the lives of some flawed and interesting characters.
You can buy Bat’s Children here: