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Review: In the Pass of Ghosts – K.L. Noone

In the Pass of Ghosts - K.L. Noone

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Reviewer: Scott

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About The Book

Ghosts are real. And now they’re Aric’s problem.

Even legendary swordsmen need time off, and Aric and his half-fairy partner Emrys are traveling south to visit Aric’s brother. But, on a stormy night at a roadside inn, an old friend stumbles in nearly frozen, swearing that the mountain pass is haunted … and deadly.

With travelers and friends in danger, Aric and Em will try to solve the mystery of the murderous hauntings, but that won’t be simple. Swords aren’t much use against specters. Any use of Em’s magic will draw attention from a powerful fairy king. And this quest is making Aric think about his past, his future, and settling down in one spot with Em, someday … if Emrys wants that future, too.

The Review

In the Pass of Ghosts is the second short story in the enchanting tale of Aric and Emrys, set in a magic-filled alternate version of Europe in the 1100’s.

Aric is a pansexual mercenary who has a soft heart, running around the countryside slaying monsters, sometimes even for free if the poor locals can’t afford his fee.

Emrys is half human, half fae, rescued by Aric when a group of villagers tried to burn them at the stake for supposedly being a witch.

In the first story, The Snails of Dun Nas, Aric and Em fought an army of giant magical snails. In this follow-up, we catch up with them in a quiet interlude in a comfortable inn bed. But with rumors of angry ghosts in the local mountain pass, things won’t stay quiet for long.

Noone’s writing has a magical lyrical quality that elevates even the mundane – rain dripping off the eaves outside – into something magical and evocative.

And the characters… Aric is warm, easy going, a little too ready to charge off into danger, especially in defense of Em, but all the more likeable for it. He is generous to a fault, but also humble when it is appropriate. He knows who he is and where he is going. Mostly.

Emrys is… complicated. He/she/they is a shapeshifter. Not in the werewolf sense, but more in the sometimes more human and sometimes more fae, sometimes more male and sometimes more female, depending on their mood, and their pronouns change appropriately. Em is in hiding from their father, the Fairy King, who once discarded them but now wants them for their power. Em is uncertain about many things, but one thing they are sure if is their love for – and devotion to – Aric.

Theirs is a love story for the sges, and is beautifully rendered by Noone. Even the sex scenes – fairly graphic but not overly long – serve a distinct purpose here – to delineate the outlines and nature of their relationship.

If I have one complaint, it’s that these stories are too short. I want more of these enchanting stories, and I want them NOW. At least three more are planned… and I will be buying the collection if it ever comes out in paperback. If you haven’t read these two stories, get them now. Well worth your time, but I warn you – you will get hooked.

The Reviewer

Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.

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