Welcome to the opening stop on the review tour for She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much by S. R. Cronin, organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to keep an eye on this tour and visit the other five upcoming stops for other reviews, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)
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About the Book
She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much
War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters Book One
by S. R. Cronin
Publishing 13 November 2020
by Cinnabar Press
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Page Count: 272
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Do you know what your problem is?
Ryalgar knows hers. People have been telling this overeducated 13th-century woman for years. So when an equally intellectual prince decides he loves her, it looks like everyone was wrong and her dreams have come true.
Except, this prince is already betrothed to another. He’s leading the army training to defend their tiny realm against an expected Mongol invasion and he is considering sacrificing Ryalgar’s home nichna of Vinx by abandoning it’s rich farmlands to their foes.
Another woman would flee to safety. Maybe she would seek another lover. But not Ryalgar. Living in a world where witchcraft has been allowed to flourish and problematic powers remain, she devises her own strategy to keep the invaders from destroying her home.
This is just the sort of thing that happens when a woman thinks too much.
I tried to make conversation with Davor over a dinner the two families shared at the tavern next to the inn. Although he was polite, he showed little interest in getting to know me. That annoyed me, so I pushed him for information.
“Do you think this swarm of Mongols will attack us this winter, or wait till the next?”
He raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t generally discuss military intelligence with civilians. I’m sure you understand.”
He turned to one of his friends to talk about something else. Before he could open his mouth, I tapped him on the arm.
“Do you think the Mongols will enter through the grasslands of Bisu? It’s by far the easiest way into Ilaria and word is they have horses they let graze before they attack.”
He gave me a more serious look.
“The Velka have women from all of the nichnas,” I added. “We amass our own intelligence, for our own protection. I’m sure you understand.”
His tight little smile was one of acquiescence. “Unlike some of my peers, I do respect the Velka’s abilities. But surely you women know you couldn’t be safer than you are deep in the forest of Ilari.”
He downed his last swallow of ale. I’d started him on a subject he knew well, and it seemed he couldn’t resist sharing a little more of his expertise. “I’m speaking of you and the Zurians, too, of course, because they live in the forest as well. In fact, if we Svadlu don’t handle this invasion the way we need to, the Velka and Zur could be all that’s left of Ilari once the Mongols are through with us.”
“Then we both understand how serious this is.” I gave him my brightest smile. “If the Svadlu put the entire army at the obvious entrance to the realm, we’re all safe, but only if they prevail. If they hedge their bets and keep some fighters in reserve, they’re more likely to lose the initial battle but could still protect some of the nichnas if the Mongols do get through. Just not the outer nichnas like Vinx and Bisu. They’d have to give them up.”
A server set another beverage in front of him and he gave the mug an eager glance.
“Look. We’ll protect everything we can. Sacrifices may have to be made. Okay?”
With that he downed half the contents of his new mug, turned his back to me, and began to talk to one of his friends. I don’t think he realized what he’d just shared. I now knew the Svadlu were at least considering sacrificing my homeland.
My Rating: 4 Stars
I received a complimentary eARC from the author via Goddess Fish Promotions in exchange for an honest review as part of my participation in a review tour for this title. Thank you to both S. R. Cronin (or her publicist?) and Goddess Fish Promotions for this opportunity. This has not swayed my opinion. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much is a historical fantasy that takes place in our world during the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, though the setting, the realm of Ilari, is fictional. Our heroine Ryalgar is the eldest daughter of a farming family, annoyingly single in the eyes of her six younger sisters dutifully waiting their turn to publicly court and wed, who chooses to forgo the whole eligible lady thing and join the Velka. The Velka are this setting’s version of benevolent witches living in the woods. Every Velka has a knack for some sort of supernatural ability, though the abilities vary widely. Ryalgar’s is telekinesis. Each of her six younger sisters eventually proves talented in other unique ways. Adopting the lifestyle of a Velka brings Ryalgar closer to the grandmother she has believed dead for most of her life and frees her up to happily be her prince’s secret mistress. When word arrives that the Mongol horde intends to invade, Ryalgar can’t sit by and let the trained soldiers and their leaders do all the defence planning; she travels the realm forging alliances and hatching a plan that the Velka will lead in secrecy. Can they save the realm?
I found myself relating to Ryalgar a lot. She’s inquisitive, brash, very intelligent, and constantly underestimated. She believes in doing what is best for the greatest good, and leaving people she cares about to make their own decisions, so long as they’re safe and happy. I can’t quite relate to her resolve and confidence in her romantic situation, being “the other woman” and knowing that status will never change, but the affair is presented in a way I can morally rest with: an arranged marriage of political necessity where both parties have agreed to keep their other partners.
Some of the family dynamics are a bit confusing. We are told that Ryalgar has been lead to believe her grandmother is dead rather than alive and well among the Velka because he mother declared her mother in law dead to the family long ago. Ryalgar’s father explains that it’s because his mother left at the one time when a mother in law was needed most: the arrival of twins to a young mother with no other family to lean on. Ryalgar’s mother then says that’s only half the reason, but never elaborates. Later on Ryalgar’s grandmother abruptly ends a conversation when Ryalgar brings up one of her youngest sisters, younger than the twins, and there’s clearly a big issue there even though the grandmother was already “dead” when that child was born. Need more information. I know all too well what it’s like to be devastated by the choices of one’s mother in law, but I don’t understand why granny is dead and not an occasional visitor who is tolerated, and I’m wondering if at some point other arrangements were suggested. How else does Granny have such an opinion on a youngest grandchild she’s never officially met?
I really enjoyed watching Ryalgar’s sisters slowly becoming involved, one by one, in the Velka plan to aid in the upcoming war against the Mongols. Not only was this a great way to celebrate sisterly bonding and an excellent vehicle for character development in this introductory volume to the series, but it also introduced such a strong sense of feminism into this book. Although the Velka are an allegory for witches, living in the woods and practicing supernatural skills, coming into town to sell medical aids and solutions to womanly problems, I’m used to seeing powerful women in low fantasy be witches and sorceresses. Ryalgar’s sisters aren’t. One has married a military leader. One is in the military herself. One has joined a group that stands in for Romani. One has visions. All of them end up with skills that could make them great Velka, but none of them join. Some of them have been allowed to choose careers that many fantasy settings reserve for males. Women are present at and participating in conferences between royalty and military leaders. None of this is ever questioned. The only general rebukes toward women who try to step above their station comes from a drunken man tossing slurs in an awkward scene right before one sister’s wedding.
My two major complaints about this book are simple. First, it feels like the first half of a book. It’s book one of a series, yes, and it needs to leave a lot for books two and beyond to handle, but books within a series still need to answer some of the questions they pose before they conclude. This one teases us with the Mongol threat only to make it very clear in a rather rushed ending that we’re probably going to be fighting the same enemy for all seven books. Wars are long, sure, but battles are short. I wanted more battle! Second, with the full acknowledgment that I read an eARC from so early in the process that there are colour-coded passages with the author’s notes to make changes still so I have no idea what the actual breakdown of content percentages in the final book will be, but there’s a good 10% to this file after the final chapter ends. This compounds the disappointment of point one that it ends so fast and with very few big questions answered.
Overall I really enjoy Cronin’s writing style and the world within our world she has created. I would definitely be interested in continuing with this series, and I will recommend this one to my reader friends who enjoy historical fantasy.
About the Author
Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.
She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels. She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how odd she is.
All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.
Tour Schedule & Giveaway
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