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Winterland: A Dark Fairy Tale
by Mike Duran

The author provided this book for my review.

Alice in Wonderland, in reverse, is what this story reminds me of. Not as crazy as Alice in Wonderland, though it has its moments, and not as humorous or satirical, though it zings a few here and there, but the flavor reminds me of that story. Not only for the very other-worldly setting, but also the interesting characters the protagonist meets.

Eunice embarks on a journey few would enjoy: a trip through her own mother’s tortured soul. She traverses a surreal landscape and is guided by a man who was the only part of the picture that remained mysterious. I’m guessing he was an angel of some sort, but who knows? But this stranger helps her through the strange world, seeking to save her mother’s soul, and in the end, face her own demons.

This isn’t a high action book, more of an allegorical trip through one’s life and soul. A vision of what monsters and characters we face within our own psyche. Some crazy, some scary, some devious, some dangerous. As you journey with Eunice, you may even learn something of your own journey as well.

The writing is good. There are spots I saw where it could be tightened or strengthened, but those were few and far between. The reader is not likely to notice them or be that concerned about them if they do. The story flows well, the pacing is good, easy to follow, and the formatting is well done (I read it on a Kindle). I spotted one typo through the whole novella, so the grammar and spelling are clean. There is no hint of the stereotypical “self-published” novel. The cover appears professional and the writing is as well.

While the ending wasn’t “mind blowing,” it was very interesting and good. It is a journey worth taking and enjoying. There was enough mystery and wondering what would happen next to keep a person reading and wanting to see what the next chapter would hold. I enjoyed the story and the trip. If you are the kind of reader who likes “dark fairy tales,” this is a good one to grab and settle in with. You won’t be disappointed.

If there was one trouble I had with it, it was the strange setting of the world. It took a while for me to get my bearings and felt too abstract, despite the author’s descriptions. As I went on, this feeling lessened, and the world came more alive.

I think this is a common problem with alternate universes, simply because the reader doesn’t have a good idea of the rules of such a world. Even more true when you get into worlds that are not grounded so much in our world, like traveling through a soul. Most stories have a whole novel to get the reader adjusted to the new world and learn it. That Mr. Duran was able to do that within the short space of a novella would actually be a plus to his skill. But the reader does need to be aware that it may take a little getting used to the world they find themselves in with Eunice.

If you’re looking for high action, face-paced adventure, this may not be the story for you. If you are wanting a more allegorical romp through someone’s mind, in search for answers to questions we all face, then I’d recommend you grab a copy of this one and enjoy the challenging world that Eunice explores to save her mother. A definite recommend from me.

About R. L. Copple
R. L. Copple enjoys a good cup of coffee and a fun story. These two realities and inspiration from the likes of Lester Del Ray, J. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, among others, caused him to write his own science fiction and fantasy stories to increase the fun in the world and to share his fresh perspective.
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2 Responses to Winterland: A Dark Fairy Tale
by Mike Duran

  1. Lyn Perry says:

    I’d read it as well and thought for what it was – Pilgrim meets Dante in the Tollbooth type of allegory – it was okay. Not my particular style. You hit the nail when you said the universe she occupied was a bit too abstract despite the description. I never warmed to it, however, and gave it a 3 of 5 stars. But for 99 cents, one could do worse. (And I have, lol.)

    • Rick says:

      Thanks, Lyn. I actually pulled the cover graphic from your review, but didn’t read your review until I’d posted mine. Noticed you weren’t as thrilled with it as I was. Not that I would say I was “thrilled” so much as I thought it was good. The characters are what made it interesting for me more so than the plot (maybe should have put that in there, darn.) Though the plot did come together and was interesting. Nothing earth shattering. But good. But I can see some not really getting into the world at all. It was a lot like that with an angel book I read, and spending a lot of time in “angel world” never sure exactly how the laws there operated. Always left me a little unsure.

      That’s the trouble with unearthly fantasy worlds. You have to ground them into familiar reality somehow or they feel totally alien.

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