Anastasia by Emma Taylor

Anastasia by Emma Taylor
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical
Length: Short Story (123 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When the farm where she lives begins to die, Anastasia’s father casts out her mother and sister in order to save it. In revenge, her mother takes Anastasia as well. The three of them move to a strange town where the streets never stay still, and only the rats know way.

They are saved from a squalid life when her mother unexpectedly remarries, but Anastasia does not know quite what to make of her new stepsister, and before she can truly settle into yet another life her mother begins to act strangely and her sister grows deathly ill …

Living in a magic-infused society is only fun for people who understand the rules well enough to take advantage of them. Only time will tell if Anastasia is one of them.

At first I wasn’t sure what I thought of the character development in this novella. It took me some time to get to know Anastasia, in particular, well enough to tell how or if she was adapting to all of the difficult changes in her life. Ms. Taylor had a few tricks up her sleeves that I wasn’t anticipating, though, so once I noticed them I was pleased with everything she ended up doing with this cast.

The romance was bizarre to me due to how how the characters involved in it met one another. Their relationship doesn’t involve anything illegal, but I really would have preferred to know about these themes ahead of time. They’re something I usually avoid when deciding what to read next because I find this kind of thing so odd.

One of the things I like the most about the fantasy genre is how it uses magic, spells, and other seemingly lighthearted topics to address sensitive subject matter. Dressing up a potentially painful issue in this sort of manner can make it easier to discuss how they affect people. It’s difficult to discuss what exactly is going on in Anastasia’s world without giving away spoilers, but I was impressed by how accurately the author described what it’s like to grow up in a dysfunctional home. This subplot was well done.

I’d recommend Anastasia to anyone in the mood for a dark fairy tale.

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