Title: The Blacksmith Prince
Author: Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus
Length: 214 Pages
Category: Fairy Tale, Fantasy
At a Glance: In classic fairy tale style, Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus have created a world of magic, danger, and a hero’s quest that engages the imagination.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: 17th century Perigord is a county of sun-drenched villages and dark forests, languid rivers and moonlit lakes. It is a corner of France teeming with spirits, dryads and nymphs, and like everywhere else, witches are burned at the stake.
Born with the second sight, young fisherman Jehan wants nothing but to keep his head down, work hard, and stay out of trouble. Which works well enough until a suspicious string of bad luck befalls the village smith and his wife. Their adoptive son Giraud is everybody’s dashing darling, who behind his sooty smile and swashbuckling manners has buried a painful connection to the supernatural himself. Fearing that some evil is afoot, Giraud turns to the only other man in town who knows about the hidden world around them – Jehan.
Before long, they are embroiled in a quest involving brigands, witches and noble fey, while their friendship and attraction gradually shifts into something deeper. If they manage to survive ancient feuds and everyday prejudice, they might even have a chance to forge a Happily Ever After all of their own…
Review: This cover. Can we take just a moment to give Anna Sikorska some appreciation for her artwork? This is the second of her more recent covers that has left me in awe, and is again one of the reasons I grabbed this book. It’s the fairy tale in visual that this novel is in word.
The Blacksmith Prince has all the stock elements of a classic fairy tale: fae creatures, witches, earth magic, a dark curse, and a hero’s journey. It is the story of Jehan, a simple fisherman and the grandson of his village’s midwife—a woman whom Jehan will not succeed, despite his talents and aptitude for magic, because he is male. But there are more than just his witchy abilities that set Jehan apart from other citizens of La Morangiasse. There’s also the fact that he’s attracted to the son of the local blacksmith, Giraud Forgeron (what better surname for a blacksmith?), which is something Jehan can’t hide from his all-knowing grand-mère, but can’t afford for it to become general knowledge, either—for those feelings are forbidden.
As with every good fairy tale, there is a quest in The Blacksmith Prince. It seems someone has placed a curse upon Giraud’s parents, a bit of dark sorcery that, if not lifted, will surely be the cause of their untimely demise. Giraud asks for Jehan’s help to not only discover who has cursed his mother and father but for help in lifting the curse too. So, sealed with a kiss, a kiss that Jehan wasn’t at all expecting, they set off in search of the identity of the fae whose magic is strong enough to bring such misery and woe down upon the house of Forgeron, as well as what prompted that wrath.
I loved the fairy tale elements in this novel. In fact, there was a fairy tale within a fairy tale aspect to it that made it even more enjoyable. The authors have created a beautiful setting and show a deft hand at invoking imagery through their descriptions—especially in nature and the elemental magics, as well as in the fae elements that encompass so much of the story’s charm and intrigue. There is a skin-walker scene that was a fantastical addition to Jehan’s many talents and was revealing in that he’s much stronger a witch than perhaps even he suspected. We also learn that Giraud isn’t quite as ordinary a mortal as Jehan had believed, and some of those reveals were exceptional in their detail. Overall, the world building in the book is gorgeous and perfect.
For as pretty as this world is, however, the story is missing what, for me, is a necessary deep point of view to build an emotional link between Jehan, Giraud, and myself. I would have loved for their story to be told in the first person, from Jehan’s point of view, as it might have helped me make that imperative leap from reality, the absorbing connection to the characters I need to commit to a story, and, more specifically, to Jehan and Giraud’s romance, which is sweet and innocent enough that The Blacksmith Prince reads perfectly well as Teen Fiction. There was never a moment where I became so lost in the story that the authors’ voice disappeared to allow Jehan and Giraud to take over, though, which made it difficult to became invested in their budding relationship. But, that in itself is characteristic of the fairy tale–it’s about the journey, not the destination–and so, more on me than the story itself.
The writing team of Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus deliver on the fairy tale promise of The Blacksmith Prince with a skill that sent my imagination into overdrive, picturing this magical world and the beings that inhabit it. The setting they’ve created is lush in its conception and diverse in its characters, with an innocence of romance that complements and contrasts the danger these two heroes meet on their quest. If you’re a fan of an old-fashioned fairy tale adventure, you’ll find just that in The Blacksmith Prince.
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