A Beth-Hill Novel: Karen Montgomery Series, Novella 2: The Secret of Redemption by Jennifer St. Clair (Fantasy)

 
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Polly for Bitten by Books (http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=255)
"I was no priest to absolve him, or grant him redemption. But libraries were often confessionals of sorts, something I have never understood."

Malachi, a remorseful and contrite Hound of the Wild Hunt, makes an unexpected visit to the Amington Library and is coaxed into offering his storytelling services to Assistant Director Karen Montgomery. Later that same day, Malachi isn't so sure he has made the right decision because Jenny Green, the young woman who accompanies the day care children to the library for story hour, is a Water Hag, one of those nasty creatures who eat little children. When a little girl goes missing, Karen and Malachi, accompanied by the dangerous Water Hag, find themselves deep in a sinister section of the faery forest searching for the missing child.

As much as this second story in the chronicles of Karen Montgomery is about redemption and Malachi's need to find atonement for the atrocities he committed as part of the Wild Hunt, it is also a story about trust. Who can be trusted? How much evidence of faith is needed to prove one trustworthy?

In the Amington/Beth Hill area of Ohio where the Montgomery stories take place, Faery (the land of the Fe) lies close to the unbelieving, mundane world. Indeed, the area has an unusually large population of arcane creatures masquerading as human. The mystical inhabitants, of course, are more in danger from one another than they are from their human neighbors because they do not trust one another. Elves are deceitful; no one trusts the Wild Hunt; Water Hags are despicable; dryads are nasty; dragons are obsessed with gold and value it above all else; and vampires, well, they're murderous bloodsuckers. This lack of trust makes up the controlling theme of The Secret of Redemption.

No one can accuse author Jennifer St.Clair of skirting the issues or short-changing her readers. She has mastered the skill of short-form storytelling through character action and dialog. Once again her crisp prose and revealing speech develop the characters, illustrate the central theme, and move the story toward its completion. This lazy afternoon read has it all and offers it up in a well-orchestrated , craftily executed novella form.
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