Taliasman by Anastasia Vitsky

Taliasman by Anastasia Vitsky
Beyond Fairytales series
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical
Length: Short Story (70 pages)
Other: F/F, Spanking, BDSM
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Born to a destitute woodworker who wanted a son to carry on the family business, Talia grew up with one phrase on her lips: “If I had been born a boy.” If she had been born a boy, she would have been cherished, supported, and launched into the world with her father’s legacy. As only a worthless girl, she toils all day long to earn her handful of inferior grain.

Far away in the heavenly palace, Queen Vina receives a mysterious coin necklace from Nicodemus, teller of stories. Compelled by the throbbing heartbeat, she scours the earth to come across Talia, enslaved to a family who never wanted her. Rather than admit her motives, Vina purchases the girl with a sack full of gold. Furious, betrayed, and homesick, Talia endeavors to share her misery with the entire palace. Vina, afraid to confess her love, allows herself to become trapped in the role of brutal slave owner.

Talia, bred to expect nothing but misery, faces the first choice of her life. Will she accept love, even if it comes from an unlikely source? Or will she reject the one who offers her everything?

The problem with being whisked away to a new life is that the troubles of the old one almost always travel with you.

There’s something to be said for reworking an old, traditional story for a new generation. I’d never heard of the legend that this one was loosely based on, so I didn’t have any preconceptions about what should happen next. The rewrite worked well, though, and it made me pretty curious to compare it to the original. To me this is a sign of a successful retelling.

I had a lot of trouble understanding the relationship between Talia and Vina. So much of it involved conflict and codependency that it dampened the chemistry I was expecting to find between them. Both characters were really interesting as individuals, but they didn’t work so together at all as a couple. It was hard to see why they were attracted to one another. Including more information about how they met and what they like about each other would have helped me understand why they’re a good match.

It took a while to fill in the gaps about when and where everything took place. During the first several chapters I wondered if it had a contemporary setting based on what certain characters said, but after a while I figured out that it does seem to take place in the past. What surprised me about this is that it actually works well with the overall dreamlike quality of the plot. Different sections were just as ambiguous about other topics, so leaving it up to the reader to discover these things was a smart move.

Taliasman is a good choice for fairy tale enthusiasts.

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