Marmell, known for RPG manuals and tie-ins as well as adult fantasy novels, here ventures into the teen market.
In a narrative that jumps between “now” and the recent past, readers meet feisty teen thief Widdershins and her companion Olgun, a god not recognized by the church as one of the 147 deities worshipped in Widdershins’ world. Four years ago, Widdershins was Adrienne, a scampy street thief adopted into the nobility. Two years ago she was the sole survivor of a massacre (aftermath described in gory detail) that left the rest of Olgun’s worshippers dead and Adrienne wanted for the murders. Now, everyone is after her: the thieves’ guild, a surprisingly sympathetic City Guard and a mysterious figure called The Apostle who commands a truly demonic creature. This is classic fantasy, both embracing and mocking the genre. Some humor goes astray: Belabored quips and overwrought descriptions can read more like bad writing than skewered tropes (“…ambient sound thick enough to ladle into bowls and serve as a soup course…”), but the plot is relentless and the characters likable enough. And Widdershins’ journey from acted-upon victim to acting-upon protagonist is a classic adolescent journey.
For teens already reading adult fantasy but wanting something a bit more on their level, this hits the spot perfectly, flaws and all. (Fantasy. 13 & up)