Tag Archives: Shawna Reppert

A Review of The Red Pencil

Book cover for The red pencil by Shawna Reppert. Image on cover shows a red pencil lying on an opened spiral notebook. Title: The Red Pencil

Author: Shawna Reppert

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: September 26, 2015

Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: About 19 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author

Rating: 4 Stars


A young girl learns to be careful what she wishes for. . .and as an adult decides that some things are worth the cost. Contemporary fantasy by an award-winning author.

Although this story is inspired in part by the author’s childhood in Pennsylvania and her Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, it is contemporary fantasy/magical realism, not memoir. The magic in the book is entirely the author’s invention, although inspired by archetypes from several cultures. It is in no way meant to represent the Pennsylvania Dutch hex tradition.


Content Warning: Two brief descriptions of animal abuse and one brief description of a dead pet cat.

Everyone needs the right tools for their education.

Childhood isn’t always a fun experience. It was interesting to see how Mari coped with her jealousy over a classmate who seemed to live a charmed life. Those sorts of emotions can be intense, especially when the ordinary scuffles of recess spill over into other parts of life. Getting to know the main character was even more rewarding than it had already been once she shared how she handled her feelings and how the red pencil helped her learn an important life lesson at such a tender age.

I would have loved to see more world building in this short story, especially when it came to Mari’s relationship with the Huckster. He was such a mysterious figure that I would have loved to know how they first met and how he knew she was the right person to give the red pencil to. There was space to expand this world here, and I would have gone with a full five-star rating if the author had done that.

With that being said, I thought Ms. Reppert did a fabulous job of explaining the allure and danger of the red pencil. Some of the most memorable scenes for me were the ones that explored Mari’s relationship with what she originally thought was a perfectly ordinary gift from an acquaintance. I’ll leave it up to other readers to discover what was actually going on there, but this is the sort of magical touch to a plot that leaves me wanting more.

The Red Pencil was a thoughtful back-to-school read.

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A Review of The Sword and the Kestrel

Title: The Sword and the KestrelBook cover for The Sword and the Kestrel by Shawna Reppert. Image on cover is a photograph of a Kestrel being held by the gloved hand of their handler out in a forest where the leaves on the trees and bushes are just beginning to grow in spring.

Author: Shawna Reppert

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: July 10, 2012

Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: 21 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


Can a Renn-Faire falconer break an ancient family curse and make peace with the Lord of Forests?


Content Warning: A life-threatening heart condition

Nothing is more powerful than love.

Guy’s character development was beautiful. I appreciated his serious personality and how much time he spent wrestling with the choices that lay before him, none of which were good ones. No matter what he decided to do with his life next, he knew that he would never live to see old age. That’s a heavy burden for anyone to carry, and his reaction to it was nuanced and realistic. Some of the most interesting scenes for me were the ones that showed him being seriously tempted to commit a crime. So much can be learned about characters by observing them in their lowest moments when they think they might be able to get away with something, and Guy provided plenty of opportunities to explore his personal code of ethics and decide how he wanted to spend his short life.

There was one dangling thread in the storyline that I wish had been tied up properly. It involved Guy’s relationship with one of his falcons, and I kept expecting the narrator to swing back to that sticky subject and tell us how it was going to be made right again. He adored his falcons so much that I found the resolution that was actually shared to be a little unrealistic for what I’d learned about his personality. If not for this issue, I would have loved to give it a full five-star rating.

I smiled when I figured out which myth inspired the creation of this story. No, I’m not going to spoil it for anyone, but I thought the author did an excellent job of translating the themes of that story into our modern age. Fashions may be different now, but there was plenty of room in that source material for contemporary storylines to flourish. I found myself smiling and nodding along as more references were added and Guy slowly began to behave exactly like someone would have in that myth, give or take a little modern technology, of course.

The Sword and the Kestrel felt like a piece of folklore come to life.


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