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Review: The Merchant Witch – K.L. Noone

The Merchant Witch - K.L. Noone

Genre: Fantasy

LGBTQ+ Category: Bi, Demi, Gender Fluid, Ace

Get It On Amazon | Publisher

About The Book

Sometimes heroic swordsmen need money. So Aric and his half-fairy partner Emrys have accepted a job protecting a wealthy cloth merchant’s caravan. But the job’s more complicated than it seems.

Em’s fairy father is hunting them, and Em’s trying not to draw attention by using magic. Their client, Lady Caris, has demanded that Em stay in a simple single-gendered human form and not shapeshift — and Aric can see his partner growing more uncomfortable day by day.

On top of that, their client’s hiding a magical secret … and a dangerous enemy.

The Review

At long last, the wait is over. The Merchant Witch is the third volume in the way-too-short saga of Aric and Emrys – I want more, more, MORE!

Aric’s a mercenary with a heart of gold (and muscles for days), and Emrys is his companion, sometimes him, Sometimes her, sometimes a little bit of each, and the child of the fairy lord who is hunting the two of them.

After fighting giant snails and calming the angry ghosts of a winter mountain pass, our heroes take a different kind of commission this time out, working for a cloth merchant who is bringing her wares to a lord in Sudgarth, a southern city, for his wedding and his bride-to-be.

Lady Caris is particular, only wanting to be surrounded by women, which creates half of the tension in this story. Emrys has to remain – physically, at least – in female form all day long while she’s with Caris, which puts an unexpected strain on someone who has always been able to change her shape – and mental and emotional state – at a whim, sometimes even unconsciously.

And Lady Caris has a secret, the reason for which she sought out the Storm Wielder and the Shadow to be her escorts, and it promises to bring danger crashing down on the entire caravan.

As always, I love Noone’s gorgeous, lyrical descriptions – they’re a bit of magic in and of themselves. And the relationship between Aric and Emrys… we’re left with no doubt that these two belong together, and Noone makes writing the gender fluid Emrys seem breathtakingly easy. It’s not. I’ve written gender fluid and non-binary characters before, and have struggled to get them right.

Throw in a little subtle ace representation, and The Merchant Book is a lovely, diverse, enterating and dare I say magical read.

The danger of Emrys’s father lurks in the background, providing additional tension… and the afterword acknowledges that the coming confrontation with him will be the climax of the series.

In the meantime, I’m content to sit back and enjoy the ride. Noone says there are two (or maybe three) more tales before this all wraps up. I’m begging for at least four.

Read this one (and The Snails of Dun Nas and In the Pass of Ghosts) now. You won’t regret it.

The Reviewer

Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.

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