Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tell Me My Name by Mary Fan

Title: Tell Me My Name
Author/Editor: Mary Fan
Publisher: Glass House Press
Rating: WORTHY!

DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I've neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley. I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration for this review. The chance to read a new book is often reward aplenty!

Tell Me My Name sounds like it ought to be a really original title, but there are several similar titles on B&N, so be sure you pick the right one!

This novella starts out in a really intriguing fashion. A young girl - wonderfully not a trope or cliché girl, but a rather skinny, flat-chested young woman, dressed in a rather skimpy and thin dress which is tied behind her neck and which barely covers her front and not very much of her back, awakes to find herself trapped in a cell of ice walls within which metal bars are buried. There's a tiny window and no door, and she cannot even chip the ice, let alone melt it.

Her only visitors are apparently sorcerers, since they can make an opening in the ice (not in the metal bars) by magic, and one of them provides her with a glowing ball which warms her in her frozen prison. Her only hope is the young apprentice who accompanies them, and who was the reason she got the warming ball. He leaves her his robe and brings her food, and finally, something which triggers memories, evne though he risks punishment for showing her any kindness or even talking to her.

The girl's problem was that she cannot remember anything: not the reason she's there, not where she's from, not even her own name. She doesn’t even know what she looks like - except that she's skinny, and has long very pale hair, and is perhaps young, as judged by the quality of her skin. As the time ticks by and she's tortured with sorcery every time she tries to recall something, some memories do seem to come back to her, but very sparingly. The head sorcerer seems to think she's evil incarnate, but she has no idea why, and he will not tell her. He seems afraid to speak to her.

This is a really short story at only fifty pages or so, but the text is closely spaced, so it felt like a longer read than it actually is. It's the first of a series - and so has a cliff-hanger ending, be warned. As it happens, I was quite intrigued by this. At first I thought it was a fairy story (i.e. a story about fairies), and I'm not a big fan of those, but it's not a fairy story! So because it was well written, and because it left me interested, and even though it was way too short, I am left in a mood to recommend this one.