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Book: “Swordheart” by T. Kingfisher
Publishing Info: Argyll Productions, November 2019
Where Did I Get this Book: from the library!
Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat
Book Description: Halla is a housekeeper who has suddenly inherited her great-uncle’s estate… and, unfortunately, his relatives. Sarkis is an immortal swordsman trapped in a prison of enchanted steel. When Halla draws the sword that imprisons him, Sarkis finds himself attempting to defend his new wielder against everything from bandits and roving inquisitors to her own in-laws… and the sword itself may prove to be the greatest threat of all.
Review: Once I discover a favorite author, it can only be expected that you’ll probably see a lot of reviews for them going forward. So as not to just run through them one after another, I’ve been trying to hold off on picking up a new Kingfisher novel until I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a slump. And, for whatever reason, many of my October books were a bit underwhelming. While this was a bummer, it gave me the only excuse I needed, so I immediately jumped back into the world of the Clockwork Boys with this standalone book.
You would think being left a grand estate and all the wealth and prestige that comes with that would be a blessing. But for Halla, the housekeeper turned unexpected heiress, it has lead to nothing but trouble. Hounded by the relatives of the deceased, Halla has all but given up hope of collecting on her inheritance. That is until, when trapped in a cluttered room in a mansion that should by rights belong to her, Halla draws a dusty old sword and finds…a swordsman as well? One who is enchanted to the sword and sworn to protect its wielder for the remainder of their life. But while Halla seems like an easy enough individual to protect, Sarkis, the swordsman, is in for a surprise.
I think it would be a bigger shock than anything if I read a book by this author that I didn’t enjoy. There are enough strengths in her general storytelling ability, her solid characters, and her witty dialogue that it’s hard to imagine a book that felt like a flop. There have been stories I’ve enjoyed more than others, however. So where does this one fit on that scale?
While much of the appeal of this book lay in the strength of the qualities I listed above, there were a few aspects of this story that I found particularly charming. For one thing, Halla is an “older” heroine, coming in with an age somewhere in her 30s. Kingfisher has used several older heroines like this to helm her books, and it’s something I always appreciate. Life and adventure doesn’t only come for twenty-somethings! And, indeed, we get more variety and life experience with an older lead who brings more baggage (both good and bad) to the story. Halla is an unlikely leading lady in that she starts the book out as a bewildered heiress who seems as if she may have been happier remaining a housekeeper for the rest of her life. What’s more, as the story progresses, her romance with Sarkis comes from the perspective of a woman who has already been married once and knows what’s what.
I also appreciated that this was one of the longer books I’ve read by this author. She tends to write books that come in between the 200-250 page count, just enough to be considered full novels instead of novellas, but noticeably shorter than the average fantasy novel out there. On one hands, this is a quality I love as there are so many massive fantasy tomes out there that not only don’t need to be the length they are (and are often worse for it) but the sheer amount of time it takes to read one lengthy novel necessarily limits how many one can get through. That said, I loved being able to settle in to this story a bit more than I have with past, shorter books by this author. I became highly invested in Halla’s journey towards self-worth and Sarkis’s work to restore the humanity he gave up when he became attached to the sword. We learn a lot about their personal histories, so it’s truly gratifying to see them come up against similar challenges here and make different choices.
That said, there came a point around the three quarters mark where I began to feel like the book was quite literally tracing the same road back and forth. This is played for good humorous affect, but the final go around did begin to feel a bit tedious as I began to wish that our characters could finally have something go right for them.
Overall, however, I really enjoyed this book. It was enjoyable and solid in all of the ways I’ve come to expect by this author, and I appreciated the increased page length to really soak in this particular world and these characters and their romance. Fans of this author or for those looking for a cozy fantasy novel, this is definitely a book for you!
Rating 8: Everything you could want from cozy fantasy fiction!
“Swordheart” can be found on these Goodreads lists: CozySFF and Above 30 Romance Heroines.