Review: A Christmas Carroll by Leanna Renee Hieber

A Christmas Carroll

A Midwinter Fantasy Anthology

Strangely Beautiful #2.5

Written: Leanna Renee Hieber [website]

Published: Dorchester Publishing

When: Digital release in November, 2010 with a trade paperback release in October, 2011

ISBN: 0843964219 (digital version)

Obtained via: Publisher

Cover Blurb:

You have ventured through the wardrobe and down the rabbit hole. You’ve beheld the Fading Lands and glimpsed the ivory spires of Minas Tirith. A star now rises over three other kingdoms, and over three heroic couples, all deep in winter’s thrall:

Visit Leanna Renee Hieber’s Strangely Beautiful Victorian London, “strange in its happenings and mood and beautiful in its romance and language.” -Booklist
Haunted though these soot-stained urban alleys may be, a lonely headmistress and a gallant vicar shall here reap the season’s blessings.

Travel to Meridian and Sylph Valley, L.J. McDonald’s “mesmerizing, magical world [readers] won’t want to leave.” -Library Journal
Immensely powerful creatures called battle sylphs vie for dominance here, while fulfilling every wish of their queens. But what woman shall rule the mighty Mace?

Discover Helen Scott Taylor’s land of The Magic Knot, which is “wonderfully creative and lusciously sexy.” -The Chicago Tribune
In the frosty North, in the ice palace of Valhalla, Sonja’s life depends upon unraveling the mystery of the Crystal Crib–and upon winning the love of Odin’s son.

My Review:

Note: This review covers only A Christmas Carroll and not the other novellas in this volume.

This novella is the perfect compliment to the first two Strangely Beautiful volumes. The major conflict was resolved at the end of Darkly Luminous, but there were definitely ends left untied. Namely, Michael had confessed his love for Rebecca, Headmistress of Athens Academy, but would she return that love? Would they find the happiness that had been delayed by two decades?

Hieber has a talent for making the eerily supernatural a perfectly normal phenomenon. Reading her words, it is not unreasonable to imagine that one could look up from the turn of a page to see a Victorian ghost come gliding through a wall. The language, like the previous volumes, is lovely and ephemeral and obviously carefully chosen to evoke the time period in question.

This novella focuses on the importance of love and friendship, and the power of the light to turn back the darkness. Which, really, is an over-arching theme throughout the whole of the books, but it is particularly poignant in this one. The departed spirit of a lost member of the Guard arranges a dangerous quest through twenty years of history to fight despair and guilt — and to bring a pair of soul mates together.

A Christmas Carroll is a must-read episode, and probably my favorite in the Strangely Beautiful universe. It may be possible to read the novella first, but it would have major spoilers for the first two books, so I don’t recommend it. We’ll be receiving a third volume (a prequel) titled The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess in May. There is also a turn-of-the-20th-century volume in the works, to round out the quartet. If you like the Victorian era, Gothic architecture, Dickens, or love stories then this series is a good one to try.

Buy it at Amazon.

Note: Don’t forget to enter our giveaway for a copy of the 1st book in the series: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker.

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