Title: The Galloway Road
Author: Catherine Adams
Series: Solitary Travelers Collection
Renna has just qualified as a mage and been offered a lucrative job halfway across the country. But getting there is another matter entirely, for the Galloway is lined with the bodies of those who dared to cross her new employer, and old songs relate tales of long-dead kings and graveyard courts.
Hired to protect her on the journey is a grumpy mercenary who spends more time drinking than talking and seems to face his work with the enthusiasm most men reserve for their deaths. She’s also joined by an irresponsible duo of musicians who break hearts with their music and break purses with their gambling. Renna herself is struggling with personal matters, and the company and difficult journey aren’t helping.
All Renna has to do is take the Galloway Road from the coast to Gibbet Rock, but she’s far from convinced she’ll make it through so much as a single day.
Source: ARC from Less Than Three Press via NetGalley
This short read managed to produce a rich landscape in an otherwise undeveloped world with characters that could have done with a lot more depth. It’s interesting and enjoyable as far as it goes, but it feels incomplete.
Renna is a strange one, a seemingly timid mage who is well-born and clearly has doubts about her abilities. We get a few hints of her past, but not much, and I would have liked a lot more from her about her struggles with magic and family connections, not to mention just what her feelings actually were towards her companions.
Speaking of those companions, they too could have done with a lot more fleshing out. The musicians aren’t really introduced, while Brett left me confused at times. And although this was listed as a romance on NetGalley (albeit an asexual one) there really isn’t any romance here. Despite Renna’s claims to have loved Naize, there’s no depth to her emotions to suggest, well, anything about how she really feels.
When it comes to the descriptions of the Galloway Road and its surroundings, however, that’s where this story shone for me. It’s bleak and beautiful and familiar and even a little frightening at times, though it did stray a bit too close to LotR’s barrow wights (but Tolkien casts a long shadow when it comes to these types of things). Still, for me this side of the story showed definite promise, I just wish the characters and the world itself had been given as much detail and attention.
Overall this is an intriguing little read. It isn’t perfect, but if you like magical road trips, with a ballad or two along the way, then maybe you’ll enjoy this.
The Galloway Road is Out Now.
Visit the Solitary Travelers Collection for more details.