Black clouds of xenophobia gather over Radvadur, the western province of the Empire. The political climate is strained and fragile. A surge of Nymph refugees has stirred widespread hostility towards non-humans. When the investigation of a gruesome triple murder linked to the refugee camp ensues, it takes Inspector Käyru Skaer and his lover, Count Ellydhar Finn-Jánn, along an unusual path, at the end of which a precious gift awaits.
Käyru and Elly are worlds apart in social standing, but they have found common ground in the bedroom—up against the wall and the stable doors, too. The arrangement between them ought to have been temporary and of no consequence. As their circumstances change, will they find the courage to risk their hearts?
Warning: Contains mentions of off page sexual assault
By nature, I’d always been an inquisitive sod, one to seek answers and ascertain motives. Besides, I liked the idea of justice served and balance restored. That sentiment prompted me, to a great extent, to become a lawman.
My fondness for asking questions explained why, after parting ways with Temper, I found myself heading towards Ÿben’s.
I encountered a few random checkpoints on my way to the town centre. The entire place bustled with Imperial soldiers looking purposeful.
Ÿben took his bloody time answering the door. I had my foot inside before he could blink. From the scowl he wore, I guessed my unannounced social call went unappreciated.
“Talk, elfling.” I barked at him. “About your Furia friend.”
“Inspector, you can’t—”
“Where is she?” I forced my way in and slammed the door behind me with the heel of my boot.
Ÿben stepped back and flattened himself against the wall.
The Furia’s tall figure appeared from around the back. She moved in the fluid, stealthy manner of a predator. Bloodstains marked the front of her clothes. Her upper lip lifted in warning and a display of teeth followed. The hair on the nape of my neck prickled at the bestial growl that came from her throat. I didn’t dare flex a muscle; I stood no chance if she chose to attack me.
Her luminous purple eyes clung to mine, and she spent a long moment examining me.
I wouldn’t say that her gaze made me shit myself exactly, but with three massacred bodies fresh in my memory, I drew damn near that territory.
Besides rage and hostility, something poignant lurked beneath her savage expression.
“Tell me, human. Is there someone you love?” she rasped at last.
I blinked. The thought of Elly never slipped far from my mind.
Whatever emotions crossed my face must’ve satisfied her because her features mellowed. She summoned me with a jerky hand gesture. “Come.”
Wary and tense, I followed her.
For a short story (~50 pages), The Poison Within packs a serious punch. As someone who is not generally a fan of the fantasy genre, I absolutely loved this story. Kasia Bacon does an amazing job of telling a complete story in such a short format and leaving us wanting more without feeling unsatisfied with the “to be continued” ending.
This is a romance, and a beautiful one at that, but it isn’t *just* a romance. There are a lot of current hot topics portrayed in this story such as xenophobia, classism and controversial politics. The author states that this story was inspired by current events, and you can definitely see a lot of similarities between the world Elly and Käryu live in with our own which kept me interested without being distracting or overtly obvious.
This story takes place in the same universe as another of the author’s short stories, The Mutt: An Order Short Story, though it is only loosely linked and features new, human characters. As with The Mutt, the extent of the work the author put into creating this world and the backstory of each character was clear.
Also, I was continuously awed at the absolutely beautiful yet subtle prose in The Poison Within. The first paragraph struck a chord and I knew this story was going to be something special.
“I cherished our stolen moments, shiny glimpses of happiness. Like a fool, I threaded them onto the cord of my memory in the desperate hope of creating a fully beaded string one day.”
I thoroughly recommend this short story to all. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of fantasy, give this a try. It transcends its genre and is a beautiful read.
A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Reviewed for OMGReads.
A linguist and an avid reader with a particular fondness for fantasy and paranormal genres, KASIA BACON lives in London with her husband. When not tearing her hair out over a translating project, she writes stories about the shenanigans of emotionally constipated assassins and sexy Elves. Otherwise, she can be found shaking her loins at a Zumba class, binging on anime or admiring throwing knives on Pinterest. She has a mild coffee and lemon tart addiction. A lover of MMA and Muay Thai, she also enjoys nature and the great outdoors. She dreams of becoming independently wealthy, leaving the city and moving into her wooden mini-manor—located in the heart of stunning forests resembling those of the Elven Country depicted in her tales.