A tale of elves, vampires, dragons, and more, Dark Children of Naor is a collection of three tales that take us from the frozen wastes of the north, to the vineyards and courts of the south, all in a land called Naor. What Justyna Plichta-Jendzio has crafted here is a work of classic/traditional fantasy that weaves together interesting characters, complex monsters, and almost fairy-tale like themes.
It's also a tale of strong women - monsters, hunters, and heroes alike - who surpass their traditional roles by putting a new spin on them. In the first tale, a beautiful young woman must do battle with the exterminators sent to hunt her down, while fighting against the darkness of her very nature. It's a very traditional vampire story with an edge . . . literally. The second tale turns the tables, making a woman the hunter, hot on the trail (no pun intended) of the dragon who decimated her family. She's a great character, but it's the mythology of the dragons - the velangs - that really intrigued me.
The third tale is the longest of the lot, and the one that really takes us into the mythology and philosophy of Justyna's world. It's also the story with the most depth in terms of setting, introducing us to the highs and lows of society - the rich, the poor, the nobles, and the slaves. While the first two stories were largely straightforward, with a nice twist at the end, this is a tale that's built on betrayals. The introduction of more spiritual themes, of angels and demons, is an odd expansion of the traditional fantasy genre, but one that works.
All told, these are strong stories, with interesting characters, that are well-told. I would have liked to see a bit of framing around them, something to either link them together or establish them within the larger worldview, but that's a minor quibble. I enjoyed my time in Naor, and would definitely be up for a return visit.
Published August 1st 2012 by Devine Destinies