A Highside girl. Beaten. Murdered. Her body found on a Lowside dock. A magistrate comes looking for answers. For justice.
Alys trades and sells secrets among the gangs and factions of Lowside. She is a daughter of the underworld. Bold. Cunning. Free. When an old lover asks for help, she agrees. For a price.
Together, they travel into the dark heart of the underworld in search of a killer.
Released: November 15, 2015
“Hello, Uncle Harry,” Alys said, with her brightest smile. She extended her hands to her sides and curtsied delicately.
“You were never short of sand, girl. I figured you would be drifting in, with everything else washing up on my shores tonight.” His eyes shifted past her to Dax, then his attention focused back to Alys. “Didn’t know you two were sharing company again.”
“Just business, Uncle Harry,” she said. “He’s come down to Prionside for a case. Fortunately, he was not required to bring any friends with him. For now,” she said. “A single tourist is one thing, but a crowd of them, well, that would be another thing entirely.”
The Blacktide settled back onto the wooden throne, pouring himself a drink. “Your thoughts and mine, as was often the case, do seem to move along a similar course,” he said before knocking back the drink.
“It’s a bad situation Uncle Harry,” she said. “High profile trouble on the docks, and any answers you find will be deemed a bit too convenient, would they not?”
“They would indeed. They would indeed,” the Blacktide said. “Which is why I figured you’d be coming. You always smelled opportunity like it was blood in the water.”
“I learned from the best.”
In response, the Blacktide raised his glass in salute and drank once more. “A girl left on my docks, just a few feet from the water that would have erased all trace of the body.” He settled back in his throne. “No simple murder.”
“She was a message then.”
“I assume as much. But it wasn’t meant for me.”
At that, Dax spoke up, “For whom, then?”
Blacktide Harry fixed him with an unblinking stare. “That is none of my concern. Whoever it was, I am sure they have received it loud and clear, and they will take the appropriate actions. Meanwhile, Magistrate Inspector, you and your boys have cleaned up my docks. And so life moves ever forward.”
“Not yet, it doesn’t,” Dax said. “I mean to find justice for her.”
The Echo of the Ascended series is done very differently from other fantasy adventures in that each book so far is a part of a particular characters story, and they are very short novellas. Best Left in the Shadows is our introduction to Alys, a heroine who doesn’t let anyone or anything stand in her way, and knows how to get what she wants. I was blown away by the detail and world building that was accomplished in so few pages. I didn’t feel like I was seeing a section of a puzzle, more like I was reading a story that would contribute to a larger whole, but is compelling and rich all on its own. If you’ve ever read a book where a character tells a tale around a campfire, this reads like one of those tales. And when you read A Reaper of Stone and Rend the Dark, preferably before Best Left In The Shadows but not absolutely necessary, you’ll get a better idea of the bigger picture here. I’m looking forward to seeing how these stories intertwine in future installments. 4.5 stars!
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