Thursday 17 February 2022

A Suit Of Swords by M J Logue

short read / fictional drama
1626 / 17th century

"Amsterdam, Christmas 1626. It has been a year of wonders for Puritan's brat Holofernes Babbitt. Run away to the Low Countries at eighteen to take up a career as a mercenary in the Imperial Army, so far Hollie's luck has held. At least, he's still alive. Homeless, friendless, and broke till the spring campaigning starts again, it looks as if it may be a bleak Christmas for Hollie. But miracles happen, at midwinter..."

This was the second short read novelette / long short story that I read over Christmas 2021 - and reviewed here this month. And this one, even though it was only twenty-nine pages long, I absolutely loved! (Mind you I have developed a bit of a soft spot for Hollie Babbitt, so perhaps I am a little biased?)

Ms Logue takes us back to the pre-English Civil War era, and to the days when our eventually fearless Master Babbitt is still a wet-behind-the-ears lad wallowing in the  unreciprocated state of first love - oh, and he's hungry, cold, homeless and broke as well. Poor lad.

'[The maid] Lynten, sprawling in the ashes with her cap askew and her tray spilled, and the laces of her bodices cut through, all her linen showing and a thin line of blood where a man's knife-point had scored through her shift and torn her poor flesh beneath, trying to cover her plump bare breasts with inadequate hands -
"Hey," Hollie said mildly, "that's not nice. Don't do it."

And the man with the knife turned, thinking to give the gawky Englishman a second smile, and all his mates jeered and clapped, standing clear so that the hearth was as bare as an arena. '

Before reading Ms Logue's Uncivil War series I've always considered myself to be a firm Royalist supporter. She has converted me, although I'm still against cutting king's heads off, dislike Oliver Cromwell, and have no time for all that no dancing or singing etc Puritan preaching nonsense. But then Hollie doesn't either. He's a soldier, as simple as that. (Although not quite that simple, but that side of the saga is not entered into in this little story.)

My only slight negative: I would like better quality covers, with consistent graphics, fonts, layout etc - better overall branding for the series.  Whilst very pretty the cover for this title tells the reader nothing about the story. (And it is quite low quality, giving a blurred effect.) I do truly believe that such a superb series deserves stunning covers.

What I personally like and admire about M J Logue is her ability to transport you right into the story with such apparent ease. You are there, watching from the sidelines, observing every move, hearing every sound, smelling every whiff be it from the mouth-watering aroma of cooking food to things more - well, unpleasant. When poor Hollie's nose was dripping, 
I even found myself reaching for a handkerchief to offer it to him. I booed when that knife was pulled - cheered later when... ah, but that would be revealing a spoiler.

Read the story. It'll cost you nothing as it is free on Kindle.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Helen Hollick
 e-version reviewed

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