Balam, Spring – Travis M. Riddle

38322372.jpgIn the quiet town of Balam, people are dying. Following the loss of the town’s resident white mage, Aava – fresh from the mage academy – is sent to find the cause of the unknown illness and create a cure before the rest of the town becomes infected. When strange insectoid creatures start invading the town, seemingly attracted by the bodies of the illness’ victims, Aava seeks help from ex-mercenary Ryckert to get to the bottom of the mystery, before there is nobody left alive in Balam.

The story is a little bit slow. It’s a kind of cross between a cosy mystery story and a fantasy adventure. Overall, not that much actually happens, but it’s a good read nonetheless. The characters are likeable, and we get to know them quite well. There are a couple of lesbian/gay/bisexual characters, and these relationships are treated very casually and as not at all unusual in this world, which was nice to see.

My very favourite thing about Travis’ writing is that he invents his own new fantasy worlds and creatures. Balam, Spring is fully immersive and filled with fantasy beings, but not ‘common’ things like elves, dragons, and the other usual creatures. Instead, we meet Rocyans and Jeornish, and other original critters. Because of the immersive nature of the writing, the characters and settings are easy to picture, without ever being over-described or explained in excessive detail.

It’s a good, solid, fantasy/mystery about a small town filled with well-developed and lovable characters.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

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