A Thief of Nightshade
By: J.S. Chancellor
Published By: Rhemalda Publishing
Published By: Rhemalda Publishing
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Page Count: 350
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Adult - Fantasy
The best way I can describe this wonderful little story is that I would liken it to a faery tale for grown-ups. Everything you have come to expect in a child's story -- magic, faeries, dragons, talking animals (don't groan!), other worlds and the notion that true love conquers all -- can be found in A Thief of Nightshade but stepped up just a bit to make for an enchanting and enjoyable read for us 'big kids'. I was totally swept up in it!
J.S. Chancellor's stand-alone novel follows Aubrielle (Aubrey) Wright Sellars -- a 20-something woman who, like most adults, does not believe in magic or faery tales. Of course, she doesn't. But those steadfast beliefs were greatly challenged after she loses the love of her life, Jullian, in what appeared to be a terrible hunting accident. Aubrey was inconsolable and very fragile -- compounded not just from the death of her husband but from the secrets of her past.
Jullian seemed to have an odd fascination with faery tales and even wrote about them. Subtly challenging Aubrey to open her mind to even the possibility of some truth to the stories he wrote about proved to be a daunting task for him and, as the story unfolds, we learned why it was important to him to slowly unlock her imagination.
There was nothing extraordinary about Aubrey... she was just a regular human being, albeit, she was somewhat broken due to those secrets she kept hidden, but she became a force to be reckoned with once she put her mind to the task of trying to get her husband back against undeniably terrible odds. Everything she went through, brought her that much closer to her overcoming her demons. Aubrey was an amazing heroine.
Jullian came into Aubrey's life as her writing class professor. To say he was smitten by her the moment their eyes met would be an understatement. He literally became her prince charming -- almost to the point of unrealistic perfection -- but just shy of it. He was gentle but had the undertone of strength. He was patient with Aubrey, knowing she was very reluctant to share her secrets, even with him. She was too ashamed but he loved her unconditionally despite the emotional baggage she was carrying.
Their love story was retold in the manner of cleverly inserted flashbacks, which, by the time the flashbacks caught up to present time, we had full appreciation of how their relationship evolved and it was all kinds of wonderful... truly worthy of the greatest of faery tales. From that point on, I was rooting for Aubrey every step of the way.
The complimentary cast of characters, I actually loved as much as Aubrey and Jullian. Aislinn (pronounced Ashlinn) is an Ellohim in the world of Avalar, a former human cursed to live the rest of his life as an animal... in his case, a bear. He was sarcastic and bristley... but also had huge compassion and took great lengths to protect Aubrey in her quest to save Jullian.
Given also proved to be a great friend to Aubrey and someone they could count on to help them in their journey as well. Given was a Shade, a half-faery often looked down up in this world, but the revelation of who she really was, was something I didn't see coming. The banter between Given and Aislinn was mostly contentious but you could see their growing connection and it was wonderful to witness.
And Lipsey... OMG... he was soooo dang cute!!!
Aubrey's journey was incredibly difficult and dangerous... but she rarely faltered in her selfless determination to make sure Jullian wasn't condemned to the life he was destined to fulfill... even if it would be without her. Isn't that the stuff of great faery tales? I think so, which is why I adored this well-told story specifically designed for us grown-ups. Having said that, this book does have some mature subject matter but there was nothing overtly graphic. It was a refreshing change of pace and I appreciated the messages throughout. J.S. Chancellor's spin on traditional faery lore was magical in itself. A Thief of Nightshade was nothing that I was expecting but I thoroughly enjoyed it! Oh... and have some tissues handy for when you reach the last couple of pages! ;)
Avalar isn't real—at least it wasn't supposed to be. Aubrey never expected to fall in love with and marry her graduate writing professor, Jullian. His life's work, a grim fantasy titled A Thief of Nightshade encompassed everything Aubrey hated about fairy tales and make-believe. After Jullian goes missing and is eventually presumed dead, Aubrey discovers just how make-believe the world of Nightshade is. Not only is Jullian alive and well in Avalar, he's at the mercy of the Dark Fae, condemned to a fate worse than death, with no memory of Aubrey or his time in her world. In order to save him, she'll have to confront more than just the demons in her past, but the very real ones that await her in a place she never thought could exist. All of them will do everything in their power to stop her.