The Man and the Crow by Rebecca Crunden

The Man and the Crow by Rebecca Crunden.

In this short story, what starts off as a seemingly ordinary evening for Jessica, a part-time sales clerk at a hardware store, takes a shocking turn. 

Jessica arrives home to the flat she shares with Clara, the odd roommate she barely tolerates, and makes her way through Clara’s various housepets. Jessica stumbles into a horrific scene. 

Magic was everywhere and secrecy was paramount.

The Man and the Crow by Rebecca Crunden

Following Jessica’s peculiar encounter with the perpetrator, the book quickly pivots to the story of Enlil and Aris, who have a connection to Clara and the events that transpire.

Saying too much more would spoil the plot. Suffice it to say that Crunden makes the most of every word and scene in this 24-page, century-spanning story.

With witches, warlords, wit, and wry references to contemporary topics, I couldn’t ask for anything more as a reader.

I will definitely be reading more works by Crunden. Crunden’s books are available on Amazon.

The Backup Superhero by Kayla Hicks

4 stars

I absolutely loved the concept of this novella. In a genre where everything has been done before, the idea of having tiers of superheroes seemed original and intriguing. 

The Backup Superhero by Kayla Hicks displayed on an e-reader.
The cover of The Backup Superhero by Kayla Hicks

Tanser Girl, a D leaguer, is our heroine. After a bad day, she heads to the Hero’s Cave, a bar where the backup heroes hang out, to pick herself up. She meets up with Dwighter, a fellow level D superhero with a drinking problem, and Frank, the mysterious barkeep, both of whom are instrumental in the events that follow.

The spotlight-hating, funny, self-deprecating Tanser Girl is a likable character. With a Board of Superheroes and rules that apply to the different levels of superheroes, the story also gives us some background on the politics of saving lives. I thought these references added an interesting dimension to the book.

As much as I enjoyed the adventures of Tanser Girl, Frank, and Dwighter, the novella felt a little incomplete to me. It stops abruptly and seems more of a teaser to a fuller work than a stand-alone story. Lucky for us there’s more to the story in a second superhero book, The Original Superheroes.

The Backup Superhero and other works by Hicks can be found on her website: https://kayla-hicks.com/

Hicks has also written a young adult romance novel, Anywhere Else. My review of Anywhere Else is available here: https://bookpicksandpics.com/2021/09/04/anywhere-else-by-kayla-hicks/

The Moon of Lycca by Anne Winchell

5 stars

“As soon as she stopped, a growl behind her reminded her that she was not alone.”

Anne Winchell, The Moon of Lycca
The cover of The Moon of Lycca displayed on an e-reader. The e-readers is surrounded by green ivy.
The Moon of Lycca by Anne Winchell

Winchell’s novella, The Moon of Lycca, is a fast-moving space saga. Mei is attempting to rescue two colonists when her glider crashes in a remote area of a dangerous planet. Armed with a limited supply of ammo, the small-framed peacekeeper must find a way to survive the perils she encounters in the darkness.

Winchell packs a lot of action and meaning into this 28-page novella. With her determination, resourcefulness, and adaptability, Mei pulls the reader in and quickly demonstrates why she shouldn’t be underestimated. I appreciated the novella’s message about women’s empowerment.

I was already a fan of Winchell’s writing and this novella left me wanting to read more of her works.

The Moon of Lycca is available for purchase on Amazon.

The Cracked Reflection by Terry Geo

5 stars

The cover of The Cracked Reflection diplayed on an e-reader propped on teal and green pillows.
The Cracked Reflection by Terry Geo

I almost always choose a full-length book over a novella, but lately, I have been enjoying novellas and short stories. Sometimes, a shorter read fits perfectly in the time I have available to read.

Novellas are especially satisfying when the writer packs a lot of action and character development into the shorter format. That’s exactly what happens in The Cracked Reflection.

In this sci-fi novella, Maria Braighton has an imaginary friend, Mr. Piggy, who creates havoc everywhere she goes. The story starts with Maria as a young child living with her wealthy parents and follows her into adulthood. 

This imaginative, sometimes petrifying, but never dull tale is incredibly enthralling – I read it all in one sitting. My interest is definitely piqued for Refraction, the full-length novel that follows The Cracked Reflection. I can not wait to see how the two books connect and to find out if any of my questions about Maria and Mr. Piggy get answered in the sequel.

The Cracked Reflection is available through Terry Geo’s Refracted World website.

Are you a fan of novellas? Or do you prefer full-length books?