The Black School by Richard C. White

The Black School by Richard C. White
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (22 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The only thing more dangerous than a snow maiden is being in love with a snow maiden.

Talk about your rock and hard place.

It all changed in a flash. One minute I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky rogue with a snow maiden as a companion. The next thing I know I’m meeting her family and being sized up for husband material . . . or a coffin if I don’t live up to expectations. Given the way her relatives are looking at me, I’m thinking most of them are hoping for the latter. Still, they need my skills to rescue one of Yuki’s cousins from a mess he’s in. Apparently this school for wizards they enrolled him in is the best in the Empire. Turns out there’s a small catch. One member of each graduating class has to be sacrificed to the demon that rules the school and the faculty think Yuki’s cousin fits the bill perfectly. So, all I have to do is sneak in to this school, spirit out the young man without being detected and bring him back to a camp full of people who’d rather run a sword through me or freeze me solid for having the gall to date Yuki.Pack of blood-thirsty snow spirits behind me? Check. School full of powerful wizards in front of me. Check.

Seems my usual run of luck has arrived right on time.

How far would you go to help a stranger? Would you risk your life for him?

Even though she lives in a society that seems to severely limit the rights of women, Yuki is better equipped to take on what is coming than her would-be suitor. It’s clear from the first scene that the narrator of this piece has taken on more than he can handle and would quickly get into deep trouble if Yuki wasn’t around to keep him safe. I got the impression that their positions are reversed in the outside world and that the narrator was having trouble adjusting to his new role. It was rewarding to see how quickly and subtly this dynamic between them was sketched out by the author, and watching Yuki and the narrator interact made me want to read everything about them that has been written so far.

When I read this tale I didn’t realize at first that it was part of a series. While The Black School can technically be read as a standalone piece, my unfamiliarity with the backstory made certain scenes difficult to understand because the complicated events leading up to them were so briefly mentioned. It would have been nice to see all of the stories bundled into one volume so that new readers can easily access everything the audience knows about this world so far.

With that being said, I am quite interested in learning more about the backstories of the main characters in this piece. The brief glimpses of their earlier lives that do show up in this book have whetted my appetite for more information about them. I sense that there is a lot we don’t know about the motivations and personality traits of certain individuals, and I think that figuring that out will make their adventures unforgettable.

The Black School piqued my interest right away. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves richly detailed fantasy worlds that are built slowly over time.

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