Dangerous Voices by Rae Carson
|Rae Carson, November 2012|
Okay, so this isn't a paranormal romance; but I just finished read this with my morning cup of tea and liked it so much that I had to comment on it.
First off, this is a short story. And I don't read short stories. I appreciate them -- I once took an entire college course dedicated to short stories, and I learned that there's an awful lot going on in those little snippets. It takes a lot of skill to successfully execute a short story. Often, I feel that only the cleverest of writers can pull it off. Which, I imagine, is part of the reason why I don't read them. Most of the ones I've tried just weren't engaging enough. They couldn't escape the criticism, "this would have been good if it were a full-length story." And have you ever noticed that a lot of shorts are kind of... weird? So I steer clear of the genre despite knowing full and well that there's quality reads out there.
Dangerous Voices is written by Rae Carson, author of the Fire and Thorns series. I picked up Dangerous Voices during one of my downloading binges of free ebooks from Amazon. Most of such books are novella-length, and I didn't catch that Dangerous Voices was a short until I actually started to read it. I figured, what the hell. I would "bust it out", as one of my favorite people likes to say, then move on to a "real" book.
Expectations are funny things, aren't they? I set off with a lofty mentality, like I was doing this story a favor by reading it. And I was enthralled within the first sentences. I poured over the rest of the story, tea going cold at my side, and I remained enthralled. I can't even break out the standby critique, that cop-out statement, "it was so good, it would have better as a novel." No, this story was perfectly written as it was, and I couldn't imagine it otherwise.
The story is about a man, named Errik, who has been imprisoned so long that he's lost track of the years. Alone and broken, his world is only enlivened by the momentary sunlight that comes through his window. Until a new prisoner is brought in and put in the cell next to his. Llyri is gifted with the music that was taken from Errik -- and the magic that he turned his back on. He knows it's dangerous to speak to her, but he's compelled to make that connection. Will Llyri help him remember what it means to be free? Or will the music and magic be taken from them both?
Several things went right with this story. The language is beautiful and poetic, but it isn't so ornate that it overwhelms the plot. Everything flows seamlessly from start to finish, with not a single obstacle or gap to disrupt the reading experience. And the characters are skillfully crafted. The four entities -- Errik, Llyri, Allon, and "the keys" -- come through as fully developed characters despite the brevity of their appearances. They are the real substance of the story, a narrowed but finely focused lens into this fantastical world of magic and music.
This story did not leave me wanting more -- I was perfectly satisfied. Perhaps my view on short stories is turned around. Or maybe Rae Carson is just that good.
Read more reviews: That Girl Reads / Bright Stars in a Big Sky
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