Mason Bramblewild grew up in the countryside with family and nature and a general wholesomeness. Driven by heartbreak into the wide world, he lives the wandering and violence of the caravans. In time he comes to Thornblack, a hidden city of one law: Let the strong prevail. Audie Thacker’s classic-style fantasy Bramblewild roams over varied landscapes and stages familiar races, such as elves and dwarves. But halflings and orcs loom largest in the story and go far beyond stereotypes, while chapels and preachers declare the social practice of religion—a welcome detail of world-building. The author artfully develops different places and cultures, though the attention paid to them sometimes delays the plot. Despite its occasional slowness, Bramblewild is an engaging journey with a comforting end.
Best for: Teens; fans of traditional fantasy.
Discern: Violence, including wild animal attacks on defenseless victims; implied prostitution and sex slavery; one incident of implied child abuse; a legend, loosely inspired by the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel, depicts a man tricked into sleeping with his wife’s sisters.