Title: The Galloway Road
Author Name & Publisher: Catherine Adams (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date & Length: March 16, 2016 – 65 pgs
Renna has just qualified as a mage and been offered a lucrative job halfway across the country. But getting there is another matter entirely, for the Galloway is lined with the bodies of those who dared to cross her new employer, and old songs relate tales of long-dead kings and graveyard courts.
Hired to protect her on the journey is a grumpy mercenary who spends more time drinking than talking and seems to face his work with the enthusiasm most men reserve for their deaths. She’s also joined by an irresponsible duo of musicians who break hearts with their music and break purses with their gambling. Renna herself is struggling with personal matters, and the company and difficult journey aren’t helping.
All Renna has to do is take the Galloway Road from the coast to Gibbet Rock, but she’s far from convinced she’ll make it through so much as a single day.
This is a bit difficult for me to review as a F/F read, or as a specifically asexual read. The reason is that there isn’t much interaction between Renna and any other woman. What we do get is memories of her best friend in university, Naize. We find out that Renna loved her, and that Naize died, but I’m not sure I really get the sense that Renna is female-oriented, or that she had a romantic relationship with Naize that was asexual. Truthfully, it seems as though the story is arguably neither, and if I hadn’t gotten it through Inked, I might not have even given either moniker a thought.
What I can say is that the read is a good fantasy story, with magic, ballads, and mystical places filled with the unrestful dead. It’s a journey that’s a type of coming of age for Renna, where she learns to believe in herself, and the value of her companions. I will say that I never really expected her to become so close to Brett. There was a subtle lesson in that relationship for Renna, and she not only learned it, but it became the basis for what allowed her to enter the dark place and stand tall with resolve and bravery. The confrontation with the magical being who wore Naize’s face allowed Renna to forgive herself, and in doing so, she was able to get past the last blocks to her power.
In all, a pretty good read for me, since I like fantasy books, but again, not really sure there was any overt evidence for the descriptors I was given.