Part One: “A Veil is Parted”
On his way to meeting with the troll king, Simith, a pixie warrior and notorious troll killer, is ambushed by trolls. Simith escaped through a magical portal that takes him into another world.
Jessa is on her way home from a costume party and sees a strange man in her neighbor’s sunflower field. Upon closer look, Jessa realizes he is a winged and wounded man, and he is being threatened by trolls coming through the portal. Jessa can’t believe that any of this is real. Should she help the injured man and involve herself in something fantastical and frightening?
“A Veil is Parted” is a fabulous start to Deen’s series. The story focuses on Jessa, a young human woman, and Simith, a pixie warrior. Simith and Jessa have a strong connection from the start. “She understood the look in his eyes; the devouring grief, the vanishing self. She, too, had seen the stranger staring back from the mirror.” Though they are from different worlds, they have a bond, bound by pain, grief, loss, and guilt. They also have an incredible amount of chemistry!
The character development in this story is excellent. Details about Simith’s life and what led him to the portal that took him to the human world are interesting and complex. Jessa’s story is tragic and sad and very much defines her. Furthermore, the minor characters are as interesting as Simith and Jessa. From Jessa’s two friends to her friend’s grandmother, each character is defined, unique and entertaining.
This is a quick read with a ton of action and an amazing ending! I can’t wait to find out what happens to Simith and Jenna on this epic adventure.
- “God, how she missed words, the way they tangled and straightened on the page, the way she could mold them into forms that tested the limits of what language could convey.”
Part Two: “When Day Fades into Night”
Simith and Jessa’s story continues. Simith has returned to try once again to broker peace with the trolls. However, he doesn’t know that by saving Jessa’s life, he inadvertently linked their life forces. Now, if he dies, she dies, and, if they are not near each other, they grow weaker. On top of that, Simith has been betrayed by the fairies and fears his death is imminent.
When Jessa learns that her life force is tied to Simith’s, she determines to travel to Simith’s world to save him before it’s too late. Of course, her two friends insist on going with her and helping her on her quest. Will they get to Simith in time and help him figure out how to broker peace once and for all?
In “A Veil is Parted,” Simith goes through a portal to the human world, but in “When Day Fades Into Night,” Jessa travels to Simith’s world. Here we are introduced to a fantastical place of pixies. pookas, trolls, fairies, and more.
As the truth behind the wars between trolls and pixies emerges, Simith must reevaluate all he knows about the conflict and history of his world. He also must come to terms with his past.
This story delves more into the depth of loss that both Simith and Jessa feel. One consequence of their life forces being tied is that their dreams reveal the other person’s memories. Jessa sees the murder that led to Simith’s ruthlessness. She sees the war and death that Simith mercilessly inflicted upon the trolls as he fell into blood lust. She witnesses the loss of Simith’s best friend, the rejection of his family, and more.
Simith, in turn, sees Jessa’s lovely yet lonely childhood, and her grief-imbued world after tragically losing her entire family. He also sees how Jessa, a once gifted poet, has lost her ability to write and how she closed herself off from the world after tragedy fell.
Both characters have suffered and continue to suffer. I like that they are on a physical and emotional journey, and that they help each other with both. They are stronger together, and they seem to offer the wisdom, strength, and support that the other so desperately needs.
- “Words had been a sword before she lost them, the false catharsis of inflicting pain on others-as if she could transfer some of her own by lashing out.”
- “It was safer to drift rootless on the current than reaching for a shore that might be torn away in another storm.”
Part Three: “Through a Valley of White Mist”
In the final novella, Simith and Jessa work together to untangle the web of lies and betrayals and save Simith’s world from power-hungry leaders. Simith, now aware of the terrible betrayals and manipulations he’s been subjected to, is determined to help the trolls as well as his people.
As war nears, Jessa and Simith race to find a way to end the brutality and dictatorial actions of the leaders as well as sever the ties that bind his people to the fairies.
“Through a Valley of White Mist” is a fantastic conclusion to Simith and Jessa’s stories! Filled with action and adventure, and a few unexpected twists, “Through a Valley White Mists” is as engrossing and immersive as the first two novellas in the series. Simith and Jessa grow closer while they try to stop the fairies from taking over.
Though Simith knows he can’t make amends for all he has done, he needs to atone as much as he can. This is as much for the beings he wronged as it is for himself. He does not like what he has become, and he won’t find peace until he changes his path. I think that Jessa softened him a bit and taught him what it felt like to be accepted no matter what. He, in turn, does the same for Jessa. He also shows her that it is ok to trust and depend on others.
Though the action is amazing, as is the world-building and the character development, I am a sucker for a love story, and this one is lovely. Two wounded people who feel incapable of love find each other and slowly learn to feel again. Plus there are fairies, trolls, pixies and more!
- “Love was such a strange creature, to reknit that which it tore apart with equal ease.”
- “She spoke of the rain like a sky of grief. Of the wind and missing voices. Of the drowning soul. It never came close to articulating what it was to lose those she loved, but it sketched a shadow, like an afterimage from a nuclear blast burned onto the walls of her heart.”
- “It dragged her pain into the world like an incantation and made it real, a weight she could touch. She hadn’t realized it could be this way, that in admitting aloud–I am hurting. I am lost.–there was rescue.“
- The love story, of course! 🙂 Simith and Jessa have a wonderful story, and I enjoyed watching their feelings for each other grow.
- The character development is strong!
- The dynamic world-building. It is vivid and descriptive and magical!
- The writing style. Deen’s style is immersive and poetic, and I absolutely love it!
I recommend this three part novella series to anyone who likes young adult fantasy with interesting and complex characters and amazing magical worlds.
7 thoughts on “Review: Anela Deen’s 3-Part Fantasy Story in the Magic Underground Anthology!”
I don’t think I’ve seen this series before, but it sounds great. Glad you enjoyed it!!
So good! It’s part of an anthology series, but I only read Deen’s stories. I love her writing!
Glad to hear you enjoyed this series!
I haven’t seen this before but I love the sound of the first books opening between Simith and Jessa. Great reviews. I’m keen to give this series a try
I really enjoyed them. Anela Deen also wrote Beneath Cruel Fathoms, which is fan-tabulous!!