Title: Kestrel’s Talon (The Stonewatchers: Book One)
Author: Bey Deckard
Length: 426 Pages (Kindle)
At a Glance: Every single thing in this book won me over, especially its characters.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Following the Prentish/Nemarri war, Kes is rejected by his homeland under the guise of religious purity laws. Though he’s spared execution, the proud Nemarri’s fate is only marginally more merciful than death when he is sold into sexual slavery at a prosperous pleasure house.
Despite his stoic endurance, Kes knows he’s reaching his breaking point, but there is nothing he can do—there is no path to freedom in the Holy Prentish Empire, only a lifetime of humiliating servitude.
That is, until a beautiful young slave and his formidable master approach Kes in the marketplace and make an astonishing offer to take him home with them. The only problem: “home” is the accursed Horthmont Castle from the scare-stories of Kes’s childhood.
Thrown into a world of living myth, powerful magic, and ancient gods, Kes learns the secrets kept hidden by Horthmont’s thick blackstone walls. There he discovers something he thought he’d never know again: hope for the future.
Review: Fantasy meets fairy tale meets the supernatural meets erotic romance in Bey Deckard’s Kestrel’s Talon, once again proving this author’s talent for translating his imagination into wondrous storytelling and the drawing of deeply charming and unique characters.
Centering around the aftermath of a war in this stunning and diverse world is the subject of slavery and, for Kestrel, represents his deconstruction as human chattel. He has been beaten, dehumanized, bartered, and betrayed by the country he’d once served. And Kestrel is once again on the auction block when he’s discovered by two men—one a slave himself, the other his Master and a giant of a man who will add Kes to his collection of human property and who will, in time, answer the question of what it means to be owned vs. what it means to be treasured.
The first thing that is evident from the outset of this novel is Kes’s hopeless rage, a fire of resentment that burns at his core amidst the despair he feels over his enslavement and his utter humiliation at being powerless and without options. The second thing that becomes evident soon after is that the beautiful slave and his Master, who’ve spied Kestrel on display on the slave dais in the marketplace, are of a different ilk—there is something off in the slave’s impish exuberance and the Master’s indulgent demeanor, a note that’s off-pitch and makes Kestrel all the more fearful of what horrors await him upon his arrival at Horthmont Castle.
Kestrel does find all manner of the unexpected and unusual there, to be sure. Not the least of which is a love he would never have thought possible.
Important parts of this novel are told in flashbacks, admittedly not a favorite device of mine because I’ve found it distracting or felt it has interrupted the flow and pace of other stories, that’s not so at all with this book. In this case the flashbacks are the crux of the greater storyline, as they uncover the mysteries behind Horthmont Castle and its residents, as well as giving us the history of the Stonewatchers and a glimpse at the mysticism within its mythology. Everything unfolds so fluidly here that Kestrel’s Talon was over well before I wanted it to be, and every single character in it had become imperative to its success.
Along the same lines of this authors Baal’s Heart trilogy, the Stonewatchers series already promises to be an epic one. This is a realm where magic is real and is used in the service of both good and evil. It’s a place where this magic presents as both a shield and a sword, and sometimes as danger and a horrible curse. There is a war looming on the immediate horizon, one which directly affects Kestrel and the two men who have given him back something he never would have thought possible—hope. These three men form a union that is sweet and sensual and romantic, with Kestral at its axis, and while there is so much going on behind the scenes with the building of this world, it’s always this emotional and physical evolution that is at the forefront because it’s so integral to the story arc. One of the things this author does so well when constructing relationships, though, is to bring a raw edge to that sweetness too, and it’s something I love about his brand of romance.
I would love to tell you every single incredibly cool thing about this book, all the twists and turns of its legends and magic and how every interaction does nothing but build on and reinforce the chemistry and connection between Kestrel and the family that springs up from what should have been his great misfortune, but I don’t want to spoil a single thing about it for you–that would be a crappy thing for me to do. I do think you owe it to yourself to grab this one and experience it for yourself, though, especially if you love a world where everything impossible feels possible.
Sometimes we read authors whose work we just click with on every single level, and Bey Deckard is one of those authors for me. The Stonewatchers series most definitely has the potential to unseat the Baal’s Heart trilogy from atop my list of favorites in this author’s body of work. And one thing I can say is that I can’t wait for book two.
You can buy Kestrel’s Talon here: