The Broken Road by Teresa Frohock
Series: Frayed Empire #1
Also by this author: Miserere
Published by The Story Vault on September 21, 2014
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
The world of Lehbet is under siege. The threads that divide Lehbet from the mirror world of Heled are fraying, opening the way for an invasion by an alien enemy that feeds on human flesh.
Travys, the youngest of the queen’s twin sons, was born mute. He is a prince of the Chanteuse, nobles who channel their magic through their voices. Their purpose is to monitor the threads and close the paths between the worlds, but the Chanteuse have given themselves over to decadence. They disregard their responsibilities to the people they protect—all but Travys, who fears he’ll fail to wake the Chanteuse to Heled’s threat in time to prevent the destruction of Lehbet.
Within the palace, intrigue creates illusions of love where there is none, and when Travys’ own brother turns against him, he is forced to flee all that he has known and enter the mirror world of Heled where the enemy has already won. In Heled, he must find his true voice and close the threads, or lose everyone that he loves.
I’ve been meaning to read something by Teresa Frohock for years, but her books have unfortunately remained in that large and looming list of books I really do want to read, but just haven’t managed to yet. When I saw she had a new novella coming out, and one that looks to be the start of a new series, I figured this was the perfect chance to finally add her to my “authors read” list.
I love horror, I love fantasy and I always love when the two combine for a dark fantasy story. For those not familiar with the term that is essentially how dark fantasy is defined, the blend of horror and fantasy elements. But, as opposed to most of the popular grimdark works, this has magic as a stronger and more central feature. It is also more of a good versus evil, or good overcoming evil than a shades of grey book with lots of moral ambiguity. But it is well done and an engaging read. To give you some idea of what Frohock has managed to pack in this novella, it manages to incorporate a zombie like threat, mirror worlds, mysterious water people/souls, betrayal, magic, fallout from some cataclysmic event in what appears to be our world, and more. This last one really took me by surprise because I had assumed it would be a standard medieval fantasy setting. Definitely not the case. I love to be surprised like that.
I also love the tone that Forhock creates, her words just cut straight to the chase and tells you how it is in a very striking and powerful way.
Famine was a dirty bitch with rotten fangs, but the hunger she put in a belly bit sharp nonetheless.
Another aspect of this that was very well done is the protagonist. Travys is a twin that is challenged to overcome a disability, one that should prevent him from using magic. But he is able to prove everyone wrong and demonstrate he is not incapacitated by his disability, he just has to go about conjuring his magic in a different way from most people. He is different, not broken. I love this aspect of the book, I love seeing that he is able to still use his power, he just has to do so in a unique way.
Simply because you cannot see or understand a thing does not invalidate its existence.
The Broken Road delivered a very entertaining, enjoyable story that left me wanting more. Always a great sign. Frohock’s writing is dark, imaginative and full of magic and I look forward to reading on when the next one comes out and hopefully going back and reading some of her previously published books as well.