The Forgotten Tale by J.M. Frey

theForgottenTale-coverArt1.jpg

Genres: Fantasy, LGBT+
Publisher: REUTS Publications, LLC.
Publication Date: December 6th 2016

3 OUT OF 5 STARS

Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Forsyth and Pip have created a lovely life for themselves in Victoria with their daughter Alis. Forsyth’s biggest problem is trying to keep his writer, Elgar Reed, from interacting with his family. That is until well-known stories start vanishing and a portal opens up and swallows his family back to the written world of Hain. What is causing stories to vanish and who dragged the Piper family back to Hain? Most importantly – how will Forsyth get his family home?

The Forgotten Tale is quite a bit more exciting than The Untold Tale but it’s still average overall. There’s an exciting new main cast character and the reintroduction of my two personal favourite minor characters from the previous book. There’s less sex and more adventure this time around and it managed to bring its score up an entire point.

The most exciting part of the story is unquestionably the portion that takes place in the “writer’s world” and outside of the fantasy one. Unfortunately the entire book is cut with another point of view – Solinde’s. Solinde is a deal-maker spirit and for the most part her chapters are extremely confusing. The first few chapters are not explained and aside from the connections with the missing stories it’s generally barely comprehensible. One or two of Solide’s chapters were critically important to the story, but they were mostly filler.

Despite being an improvement on the first novel it still feels like Frey is missing her mark. Once again there are glimmers of a wonderful contemporary writer who could focus stories on fandom – but it’s bogged down by a poor fantasy adventure. To her credit, Frey has Pip acknowledge the terrible plot and world building several times….but acknowledging that the story is terrible doesn’t stop it from being terrible.

That being said The Forgotten Tale does provide an interesting look at all the problematic tropes of the fantasy genre, even if it is still entirely beholden to them. The feminism is more integrated into the story and feels more natural than the previous book which seems to throw-up buzzwords in large paragraphs. This covering of problematic tropes could have been just as well covered in a better written contemporary novel.

Perhaps the worst problem is just how things worked themselves out. The book again acknowledges that everything works out for Kintyre, which is all well and good but it doesn’t make for an interesting story. Perhaps most frustrating is Pip and Forsyth not knowing how to get home when they could have used the same method from the first book. The pieces are all still there, but instead they wait for someone else to save them.

Despite trying to be transgressive The Forgotten Tale just feels like a standard outdated fantasy story. Frey clearly has incredible knowledge of tropes and fandom but her fantasy world isn’t strong enough even if it constantly points out what is wrong with itself.

For Fans Of: Fangirl

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