"Four Exceptional Tales!"
Our first story in this anthology is WHERE LIES BEAUTY by
Sheri L. McGathy. Tanner, our heroine in this story, has
always hated settlements. Too many people, too many
unpleasant odors and just too much. As a Seeker, Tanner
prefers her own company and that of her brother, Conn. She
still can't understand why their proposed client insisted
on meeting her personally and in this of all possible
places. When Conn finally points him out, the only person
Tanner sees is a little man, terribly disfigured. When the
client makes her an offer she can't refuse, Tanner
reluctantly agrees to take him into the Hag, the magical
forest Tanner does not want to enter, to find the lost city
The next morning, their client is late. Then he shows up
with his little slave way overburdened with packs. On their
journey to the Hag, Tanner befriends Manny, the little
slave. Manny has the ability to see beauty wherever he
happens to find himself and is taken by surprise when
Tanner names him friend. Also on their journey, Tanner has
a strange dream. She sees an elf, a very handsome elf at
that, and he leaves her with a rose petal and a phrase "The
truth, Seeker, for a single tear". Well, Tanner never cries
and doesn't plan on changing this.
Will Tanner find the lost city of Sha-da-nay? What of the
dangers the intrepid travelers face? Exactly what does
their client hope to find in the lost city? Will Tanner
shed the tear?
WHERE LIES BEAUTY is a wonderfully written fantasy. I love
Sheri L. McGathy's work and this story doesn't disappoint.
Of course, there is a lesson to be learned here as well.
The settings are all beautiful, the wording is music to the
ear and the characters are all believable and remain true
to their personalities, right down to Tanner's questioning
The next story is MOURN A MOONREFT SKY by Shannah Biondine.
This is actually a change of pace for Shannah Biondine and
takes us back to Dredonia, the land we were first
introduced to in SHADOW IN STARLIGHT. When our story
begins, Zavend of the Clan Preece and High Sheriff
Iskadorich are seeking Praxis, the renowned griffon Rider.
Imagine their surprise when they discover Praxis is first
of all female and secondly, the female is a Badger. Badgers
can't even see in daylight! How will she be able to help
them find the one responsible for the murder of the mage
Thrixsall and stealing the Umbra Amulet? She agrees to help
them when they raise her fee high enough. The price agreed
upon being a Wyvern, broken and bonded to her alone.
With the Amulet being stolen, the sky will remain half
dark. It is imperative the Amulet be found. This was all
during the high festivals, when the mages perform magic for
the populace. Once Iskadorich escorts them to where the
foul deed took place, he leaves them to pursue other
duties. The more Zavend and Praxis investigate, the more
they realize things are not what they seem, right down to
each other. They end up with more questions than answers.
Will Zavend and Praxis ever find the Umbra Amulet? Will
they ever find out who murdered Thrixsall? What of the
budding attraction between the two of them?
MOURN A MOONREFT SKY is a story full of things that aren't
what they seem. Shannah Biondine has done a wonderful job
of bringing this story to life and putting us right in the
middle of the events as they occur. We are kept wondering
right until the end, when the truth is finally revealed,
and not just about the Amulet, but about each other as
The next story we come across is THE WELL OF FOREVER by
Jeanine Berry. In this story, we travel to a land filled
with magic. And our heroine, Caireya, has more than her
share. When her parents died leaving Caireya and her
sister, Eronne, orphans, they were sold into slavery to
Lord Demor. Eronne has become a healer and is a favorite of
their master's. However, Caireya's special talent lies in
scrying, which is what she's doing right now. Their master
brought them to the hidden city of Maricor, which Caireya
managed to find. Now the man wants her to find the wand of
Lohar, which almost destroyed the world when Lohar
disappeared and another tried to take it.
Imagine their surprise when they stumble across a
simulacrum of Lohar! Finally, Lord Demor and Eronne leave
Caireya alone to question the simulacrum on the whereabouts
of the missing wand.
Will Caireya find the wand of Lohar? Will she give it to
her master if she does? What of the attention Caireya
notices Lord Demor giving Eronne? Will she manage to keep
Eronne safe and out of Lord Demor's bed?
THE WELL OF FOREVER is a highly intriguing story about
magic and just how much damage it can do in the wrong
hands. Caireya has always looked up to Lohar and wondered
about his disappearance. I really loved how the city of
Maricor was destroyed and totally buried in sand after
Lohar's wand was broken in two. I also enjoyed the way
Caireya was forced to deal with her conscience in this
story. As a slave, she was bound to follow her master's
orders. As a human being, could she really give this
powerful relic into the hands of her master? Jeanine Berry
handled this situation remarkably well.
Our last story in this anthology is THE TREASURE OF ARVALIS
by Jeanne Allen. Our story takes place in the land of
Ignatia. The people of this land honor the Goddess Solone
and Eirena is now the head priestess in the temple. Lately,
the people of Ignatia have been ignoring their Goddess and
Eirena has been in despair because of this. She has
received no visions lately and is worried about their
future. When the Sighaer attack, the people of Ignatia are
not prepared. They never had to worry about attacks before.
Now since they have forsaken their Goddess, they are
vulnerable to attack and the Sighaer take full advantage of
this fact. Their leader claims Eirena as his own when he
finds her attempting to defend the temple.
Valgard was brought to this land by a vision. The vision
told of great riches to be found here in the temple. When
the riches aren't found, Valgard is extremely disappointed.
His nephew wants to burn everything and is too ready to
kill for Valgard's taste.
Will Valgard ever find his treasure? What of the attraction
between Eirena and Valgard? Will Valgard's nephew prove too
THE TREASURE OF ARVALIS is a very realistic look at the
life of the Vikings and how they pillaged. Jeanne Allen has
done a wonderful job of bringing them to life in this
story. We have the peaceful people of Ignatia forsaking
their Goddess and paying the price for doing so. We have
the warrior race taking over their land and making slaves
of them all. We also have Valgard's growing respect for
Eirena, especially after she saves his life.
TWILIGHT CROSSINGS II is a wonderful anthology. Once again,
these stories all have one theme in common: a major, life-
altering decision to be made. We also have the theme of
things not being what they appear on the surface, from the
misshapen little man in WHERE LIES BEAUTY, to the treasure
in THE TREASURE OF ARVALIS. These are four exceptional
stories I recommend everyone reading!
Posted August 9, 2004
Reviewed by Chere Gruver
Posted January 17, 2007