Published by Deep Sky Anchor Press on December 8th, 2023.
A cozy portal fantasy with special attention to family bonds and childhood memories and letting go. I could see this being okay for any age group but feels directed at an adult who misses reading piles of middle grade portal fantasy books, who grew up expecting to be transported into some other world but never had that quite happen yet...
Recommended. Easy read with a good pace. The metaphors are excellent, especially the extended one about threads and memories. The story hooks surprisingly well, perhaps due to careful balance between emotion and more grounding emotion. A bunch of nostalgic tie-ins to the 80s-90s.
The opening was pretty bland for me, but the story quickly moved past that into the story itself. After that, the story dropped us into the fantastical without letting up, which was great. The raccoon and her wolf companion were awesome, and I wanted more of them. I would love to read more in that realm, or wherever those two go, whether Beverly joins them or not...
Once we got into the fantasy, I wanted the author to slow down more and give us more description of these fantastical characters and locations that we rush through. It's fitting due to the protagonist's distrust of their reality, but still, it was often frustrating at how quickly I was pulled through the reading experience. I'm one of those readers that always complain about a lack of deeper language and description, so this is an inevitable comment I'd make on many stories out there. But essential moments, like meeting the queen and saying farewell, and other such, rush by so fast, that I can't help but feel there was more depth and story I needed there to be fully satisfied.
That criticism aside, I was curled up on my couch, glued to this read, and pumped up on nostalgia for 80s-90s life and longing for fantasies come real. Such a primary mesh of emotions driving the story that I loved it by the end. This was such a light read but had me begging for more.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. Thanks to Book Sirens and Mary E. Lowd for allowing me the opportunity to get drawn into this novella's portal.
Author's website: https://marylowd.com/books/
Buy the book from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Queen-Hazel-Beloved-Beverly-Mary-ebook/dp/B0CKV2X8PB/
My review on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/6278327681