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‘Heroism is not in my bones. It is in my blood, certainly.’



Canadian author JM (Jennifer) Landels made an impressive literary debut with ALLAIGNA’S SONG: OVERTURE, and now she continues that series with ALLIGNA’S SONG: ARIA. Perhaps her depth of background for molding this engaging ritual of coming of age in the panorama of a challenging family is obvious: she is co-founder and managing editor of the quarterly Pulp Literature, a former affiliate with punk bands, earned her degree in Mediaeval English Literature, is an artist, rides in mounted combat, and is a childbirth educator and doula – among other things!

As in the initial volume of this magical tale, the author/artist shares maps of the regions the story embraces and a list of the characters from the Imperial Age 1587 -1598. In keeping with the concept of the music inspired set, ARIA is divided into verses instead of chapters and the adventures of Allaigna sing. ‘When I ran away from my home, determined to find my birth father and wounded to the quick by the lies my family had told me all my life, I was being brave – or foolhardy – but not heroic…I left a string of diplomatic incidents, and a trail of blood, in my wake when I fled. My only defense for the havoc I created in my selfish angst is temporary insanity. I was, after all, only fourteen.’ And using this directly conversational tone allows the reader to enter the domain and meet the characters of the story with comfort – and expected fascination.

The story – ‘Allaigna has discovered that her family has lied to about her parentage all her life. Fueled by anger and spurred by her betrothal to a neighbouring lord, Allaigna has packed her saddlebags and stolen away in the night. The perils of the road provide more than a distraction from her fury, and test her ability to sing music into magic to its limit. Unlikely allies, subterfuge, captivity, and assault conspire to change Allaigna’s status from mere runaway to fugitive. While Allaigna charts her dangerous course, the quieter tales of her mother and grandmother unfold in tender, poignant, and heartbreaking vignettes that underscore the political and family tensions of the richly rendered world of the Ilmar. ‘

JM Landels continues her richly woven story with both grace and ardor as befits the realm of her tale. Yes, the story includes magic, even beyond the quality of the prose, and loom is elaborated with line drawing illustrations. This is a fascinating, fresh series!

~Grady Harp