Mini-Review: Delivering Yaehala (A Fantasy Novelette), Annie Bellet (2011)

August 1st, 2014 11:06 am by Kelly Garbato

Nine Moons, Two Unicorns, and One Scarred Young Woman

four out of five stars

Alone in the Namoh desert, Alila is immersed in the difficult and dangerous task of gathering frankincense resin from a cliff-side tree when “trouble [comes] in the form of a figure on horseback.” Tasked with lookout duty, her twin unicorns Gabi and Hezi are the first to sound the alarm. By the time Alila makes her way down to the injured rider, her horse has succumbed to his injuries. The woman is shaken but still alive – and noticeably pregnant, at that.

This isn’t any damsel in distress, however; Yaehala is the newest member of the Pashet’s Purdah, his “collection of perfect women.” She is a princess, carrying the heir to the Pashet’s throne. The Pashet’s First Serena hired mercenaries to kidnap Yaehala and cut the child from her belly so that she could claim the boy as her own, thus securing her place on the throne.

Though it goes against her better judgment, Alila decides to offer the princess passage to the sea, where she has ships waiting to ferry her out of the country. This is in no small part to make amends for past sins: accidentally killing her best friend and her unborn child in a fit of rage and grief. For this crime she was tattooed, mutilated, and banished to the desert, left for god to pass judgment on. She is “anathema. Marked. Forbidden.”

Yet, just as the gods sent Gabi and Hezi to heal Alila’s broken body, Yaehala offers her the chance to find forgiveness and redemption.

More a short story than a novella (or novelette), “Delivering Yaehala” is quick yet satisfying read that’s not short on suspense. One especially anxious moment sees Hezi and Yaehala taken captive by mercenaries (truth be told, my heart ached more for the unicorn than the woman riding her. I mean, c’mon! UNICORNS! Magical unicorns, with saliva that heals, muzzles that locate water, and horns that light up at night. The full nine!)

Another enjoyable story from Annie Bellet.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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