Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review: "Birth of a Gypsy Queen" (Paul D. Swann)

Sometimes you pick up a book to read from a new author with whom you're unfamiliar, and when you read the book, you're intrigued or inspired enough to look for other works by the same author. Today, it's fairly common practice for authors to publish short stories, flash fiction, journals, or other snippets --- sort of like bonus content --- related to a larger story line.

Enter Birth of a Gypsy Queen: Three Short Stories, by Paul D. Swann.

The work seeks to set the stage for a particular character --- Talaitha, the gypsy queen --- who will star in a full-length project to come. As just a small taste of the genre, style, and character in question to entice reader interest, Birth of a Gypsy Queen doesn't disappoint.

In "Birth of a Gypsy Queen," the first short story, Talaitha is born amidst a fierce battle, perhaps medieval-era. Quick, cinematic cuts from character to character and perspective to perspective throughout the story serve to heighten tension and increase suspense. The cast of characters, including Talaitha's parents, bloodthirsty enemy fighters, and an array of selfless subjects to the gypsy royalty, is colorful and astoundingly differentiated (in the span of just a few pages) in their respective motives and desires.

The second short story, "Snake Eyes," reveals the extent of Talaitha's power. She has the ability to turn back time, in a way. The initial setting is the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 during World War II. A historical event so tremendous seems impersonal when discussed as from a distance, but Swann gives readers the scene from the eyes of a military member, Leo, gambling with his friend Bobby just prior to the attack. Bobby loses the last bet made and dies in the firefight. Leo survives, with frightening consequences later in life.

Finally, "Ghost of the Queen" enlightens readers to Talaitha's whereabouts in a still more modern setting. She inhabits a haunted house, and lures two young men to their destruction. Told from the laissez-faire viewpoint of one of the young men, the story is chilling in the extent to which it suggests the reality of ghosts and the reaches of revenge and hatred.

The trio of stories does what it was designed to do --- intrigue readers enough to invest in a full-length project centered around Talaitha, whose powers and background alone are fascinating enough to warrant further reading. A future edition of the stories would benefit very much from a final proofread to ensure that the occasional errors in punctuation don't trip up the otherwise engaged reader, but beyond that, the work merits serious attention.

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Author: Paul D. Swann
Title: Birth of a Gypsy Queen: Three Short Stories
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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