Poetry

A photograph of a bench by a lake

The bench is open to any body

contemplating the cool glass before it.

It sees the day and the night, a breeding

ground for those lost souls who have been guided

falsely by the clouds.

It sits in the one patch of sun breaking through the shadows

playing bait. It knows some

will wish to be swallowed up.

Poetry

Me; you

I want you to see me

I want you to see me in all of my forms

 

when I’m ecstatic

and can’t stop grinning no matter how serious everyone else is

 

when I’m in a rage

and want to break things to vent my fuming energy

but usually end up silently cursing because I’m at work

 

when I’m overwhelmed

by everything and shut down inside

losing interest in just about everything until my energy returns

 

when I’m so excited

by something that you hear every detail six

times over and begin to get a little excited yourself,

even though you have no personal interest in what it is

 

I want you to see me

when I understand

 

I want you to see me

when I don’t

 

I want you to see me

without the act

without the walls

without the white lies that say I’m okay

even as I’m falling away inside.

 

I want you to see

me

Poetry

Unsaid

You’ve got my back; your firm hands grip my shoulders

as I lean into you and filter the weight of the day

from my limbs to yours. Not all of it,

an even distribution so we can both still stand.

With a smile and a nod, we walk with our arms linked

and our steps synchronised, enjoying the bond

that was always a potential and has now flowered.

Words go unsaid because vocalising our thoughts

isn’t necessary — they’re in the twitch of our fingers,

the skip or slump of our feet

and the spark in both of our eyes.

Poetry

The fee for crossing

The oil paint stains his fingers.

Thick, congealed blood

two different shades of green.

One

for the tree,

one

for the reflection of the tree

on the wavering lake. Just

where that photograph of me

was taken.

It’s too dark to see me now,

but if you felt

around the pine needles,

you’d find cool metal coins,

two of them,

which I’d promised

to balance on my eyelids.

Reviews

Review: Moroda by L. L. McNeil

Moroda is the story of a girl who escapes from her home city as it is burnt by Dragon fire, and tries to find her place in a world now threatened by war. With her sister, a foul-mouthed sky pirate, two weapon smiths with the ability to transform into animals, an ex-solider from the city, a man with the power to fly and control storms, and a man whose race is known for being deadly killers, she travels across the world of Linaria in search of the answers she so desperately seeks.

I first heard about Moroda via Twitter, as one of the people I follow retweeted a post by the author which showcased the cover. It caught my eye immediately, and led me to read the synopsis, which I found very captivating. I think the reason for that is it hinted at the idea of the plot itself revolving more around Moroda’s own personal journey of self-discovery than the typical fantasy quest of saving the world with an object/magic/intense training. It does have this basic element within it, because of the threat the dragons (and certain others) pose to all of Linaria, but McNeil has cleverly twisted it so that you don’t really notice such a trope is being used.

What’s captivating about Moroda’s character is that she is forced to recognise her own short-comings by spending time with characters with vastly different backgrounds and ideals to her – she and her sister grew up in relative luxury compared to most, but when their father suddenly died, all financial stability they had went out the window. So as she watches her companions, she starts to realise that she has very little experience in most areas of life and is eager to improve on that.

The other characters in Moroda were equally interesting. The sky pirate, Amarah, who is strongly independent and not afraid to speak her mind, is so well-written that I had a solid sense of who she was from the off. Palom and Anahrik, who have the ability to transform into animals, played well off of each other, highlighting that even though they have a strong friendship, they are very different people – Anahrik is hot-headed and quick to take up a challenge, whilst Palom is more rational and patient (until a certain point in the story, where Palom actually takes on some of Anahrik’s personality traits, for reasons I can’t state because of spoilers). Morgen, the soldier – in fact, I believe he is a captain – is a bit harder to get to know because his arc is somewhat slower that the others, more on par with Moroda’s, where he doesn’t really know what to do or where he belongs after the city is burnt. But I slowly picked up who he is: a good man initially quick to follow orders, then after he becomes aware that those orders may not be for the best, just a man trying to do his best to help prevent the oncoming war and protect those he loves.

Then we have Kohl and Sapora, both from races which Moroda knows relatively little about. Kohl calls himself a dragon hunter, and initially warns Moroda and her sister about the dragon heading to their city. He is an outcast from his race, and we don’t really find out why until a good way through, though the whole time it was unclear whether he was trustworthy or not – I wanted to, but felt like I should be wary. Though he can’t transform into an animal like Palom or Anahrik, he has wings on his back which allow him to take to the skies. His race all have the power to harness thunder and electricity, though his powers go a step further as he can freeze things. But it does seem very much like a power he doesn’t want.

Sapora is my favourite character, mainly because all the reader knows about him initially is that his race is associated with violence, and even though Moroda wants to look past that, his very presence put her on edge. The arguments he and Amarah have reveal a lot about both characters, and show off his sharp tongue.

Eryn, Moroda’s younger sister, is introduced very strongly, but as the story went on, I felt as though her individuality was lost. She follows Moroda because of how close they are – they have no other family, so they’ve had to depend on each other since losing their father. While Moroda can be a bit rash and impulsive, Eryn tends to hold her back to get her to consider things first before she takes action. I enjoyed the fact that even though Moroda is older, Eryn is the one who is most mature. However, some of her reactions and traits were ‘told’ rather than ‘shown’, and I think that’s why she paled as bit as a character for me.

With such a cast of characters, the plot is very driven by them, which is rather refreshing to see in fantasy. If I hadn’t enjoyed the characters, and had they not been so well written, then I would have said this was just an okay book. As it is, I think Moroda is quite the riveting read, and actually got me out of a reading slump I’d been in for a while. Yes, there is a lot of world building, and some of the lands and customs are only lightly touched upon, but I have to consider that this is the first book in a series, so many of the questions I have about Linaria will probably be answered in the sequels.

I consider myself quite an avid fantasy reader, and personally,  I would rate Moroda well up there with some of my favourite reads by authors published by big publishing houses. I really highly recommend it Рeven though I finished it a few days ago now, the story is still with me.