Of Beast and Burden (Hollow and Hill) by Kelsey Kicklighter
Kelsey Kicklighter introduces us to her new Hollow and Hill series, with the story of Faye in Of Beast and Burden. Growing up in the coastal area of Georgia, Faye knew all the old tales and warnings of the “Folk”. Her mother had been across the veil before Faye was born but returned with her sanity damaged. As Faye grew up, she had to watch her mother slip away as a result, till it was only her, Grans, and her cousin left. Even knowing this she has always been intrigued by all things Faerie. When an opportunity arises to appease her curiosity, she decides to follow her instincts and not her conditioned thoughts. This excursion reveals things about herself she never expected and puts her life on a course to regain an inheritance she never knew she had.
Of Beast and Burden is a low-fantasy story that revolves around an outsider teen from Georgia who has grown up knowing that “the Folk” were faeries that lived across the veil but interacted with humans. Just like Faye, I tend to be intrigued by stories revolving around Fae and their kind. I was initially drawn into this story in a big way by Kelsey’s writing style, which introduces us to Faye and the plot in a captivating, enigmatic way. Kelsey lays the groundwork for a great story as Faye’s true identity, which is the basis for the plot, unfolds.
However, the farther into the book I got, the more I became frustrated and disappointed by both Faye and the story. I don’t want to use spoilers, because I still think Of Beast and Burden is readable, so I will try to share my thoughts in a general way. While Faye was a character I initially was fond of, she continued to make poor decisions to save others in a way that set the stage for more obstacles to overcome. It felt as if she had to cause situations that she could then conquer instead of a naturally unfolding plot. The difficulties she was up against also seemed trivialized by her constant murcurial monologe over her various attractions, both male and female. It made her seem like a frivolous teen not someone trying to regain her throne. What really dropped my review was the final trial and ending. It’s pretty much expected that the villian, who is threatening someone the lead cares for and the crown, will be destroyed. It’s also not unusual for that villain to be an unexpected character. In this case the particular character used did not fit in my mind. It seemed to be a uncharacteristic stretch about what we knew of this being up to this point, but provided a convenient ending to the climax.
Based on my thoughts and feelings after the first couple of chapters I was expecting to give this a great review. Kelsey is a great writer whose style immerses you in the story she is telling. The basic premis of the book is also intriguing and has promise. However, it ddin’t come through for me in the end. But, just because I had issue with certain things, I would encourage readers to give Of Beast and Burden a shot and see if they come away with a different impression.
Tanya’s love for books has been a lifelong passion that she likes sharing with others. Reading is also the thing that relaxes her after a day of juggling the many responsibilities that come with being being wife to an amazing man, mother to four great kids spread around the world, business manager, and farm hand on their place in southwest Missouri; home to Akaushi cattle and a menagerie of pygmy goats, horses, chickens, dogs and cats.