Title: No Good Deed – A Sourdough Tale
Author: Angela Slatter
Publisher: Brain Jar Press
Publication Date: February 17, 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical
Length: 35 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 3 Stars
Blurb: Angela Slatter’s No Good Deed is a dark fantasy tale of magic, ghosts, and marriage set in her World Fantasy Award-winning Sourdough universe.
Isobel assumed her wedding would be the grandest day of her life, but when she wakes in a ghost-filled tomb still wearing her bridal veil, it’s clear events have taken an unexpected turn.
With the assistance of a vengeful spirit Isobel escapes her imprisonment, but her new husband Adolphus will not be pleased to discover his wife is alive. As Isobel comes to understand her husband’s darkest secret, the newlyweds begin a deadly dance that only one will survive.
This chapbook presents a stand-alone Sourdough story that does not appear in any of the three mosaic collections devoted to Slatter’s world of myth and magic, plus a chronology for all the publications that have appeared thus far.
Content Warning: Murder and revenge. I will be briefly discussing these things in my review.
Sometimes justice is a battle cry.
Isobel was a delightfully contradictory character. Sometimes I shook my head at the foolish choices she made because I could think of several safer options for her that would have taken the exact same amount of brain power to come up with and time to accomplish. In other scenes, I felt a wave of sympathy for how scary it must have been for such a young and vulnerable woman to wake up in her own grave. Getting to know her was a real treat, and I appreciated how many different facets of her personality were displayed here.
It would have been helpful to have more world building in this short story. I understand that it was a prequel to a series, and I certainly wouldn’t expect something of this length to be as well-developed as I’d hope to see in a full-length novel. With that being said, there were many aspects of this world and how magic worked in it that I struggled to figure out. It was frustrating for me at times to see how often the narrator took these details for granted instead of giving the audience a quick explanation of what was going on, especially since the blurb described it as a stand-alone work.
I valued what this book had to say about how women and other vulnerable people are so often mistreated by people who are in positions of power over them. Isobel lived in a time when women had few social and legal protections from those who wished to harm them, so her predicament was even more dire than it would otherwise be. While I’ll leave it up to other readers to discover exactly what the narrator thinks of cultures and families who turn a blind eye to suffering for the sake of tradition or social convention, I was quite pleased with the message myself. It was subtle enough to fit the storyline perfectly but also blunt enough to get its point across for anyone who might think they have a good reason for participating in such things.
No Good Deed – A Sourdough Tale was a satisfying read I’d recommend to anyone who like dark fantasy.