I have recently had the pleasure of reading three short stories in Ash Litton’s Appalachian Dream Tales series. These are some stories you aren’t going to want to miss. The first two, Thoroughbred and Evening Hollow are available for immediate download (so what are you waiting for?) while Comeuppance is available for pre-order.
Thoroughbred leads the reader into a world you would never expect exists. It’s right there in the small out of the way towns and still we don’t see it. Ostensibly, this story is about a couple who have fallen in love across cultural barriers, and it works wonderfully on that level. The first twist is that it’s the son facing off against his mother instead of the traditional daughter vs father argument about why his parents should bless his wedding. Callahan’s mother has a few more salient points in her argument than most parents in this situation. It’s not just that his fiancé is the wrong color or from the wrong side of the tracks. No, the problem is she’s human. Cal is a unicorn.
The true genius of this story are the little details that make unicorn culture believable. The curse that hides them from us also makes things difficult for them. It’s the little things like twitching their ears, stamping their hooves feet, and twitching their tails that bring this culture to life. Add in the curse and legends that still govern their lives and you get a rich culture that must push past the boundaries of just one short story.
Evening Hallow does not pick up on Cal’s tale. In this tale of mystic powers and balanced ledgers the entries aren’t calculated in dollars. Lady Caroline, still new to her witch doctor powers, is faced with a decision that could alter all her calculations. I love the power dynamic between Caroline and Matthew. Counter to the usual young, naive woman who follows a powerful man into a compromising situation, Matthew knows just enough to be cautious around Lady Caroline. It’s his error that puts him in a compromised situation. Lady Caroline sees an opportunity and seizes the chance to collect a much needed ingredient in her spells and potions.
Though these two stories are only linked by their description as being part of the Appalachian Dream Tales, I have faith that the further tales will add the links that bring Callahan and Lady Caroline together. I will trust the cover art and author’s notes that they are, in fact, related. Besides, with so many minor twists through each of them, I’m not entirely sure I didn’t miss something. I’d better go read them again.
Good thing Comeuppance is coming soon. We’ll probably learn a bit more about this world where Ladies keep their balance, good for bad, and unicorns really do exist.