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Fox’s Bride by AE Marling

9/10 Marling is an author that takes an obvious relish in the words he uses.

Genre fiction can often be full of much that is derivative, novels that are cynically created to mimic a currently popular theme. So when an author attempts to do something different,  when they attempt to approach fantasy from a new angle, it gladdens my heart. Fox's Bride, and its predecessor Brood of Bones, are by no means flawless but what I love about them is the effort their author, AE Marling, has made to bring something fresh to the table.

Marling is an author that takes an obvious relish in the words he uses, in the story he tells and the characters that inhabit it. It would appear he simply relishes life in general and so as a result his work is full of vibrancy, urgency and a wish to entertain.

Fox's Bride is set shortly after the events that unfolded in Brood of Bones but I would not say that it is entirely necessary to read the first book in order to understand it. Yes, it would help to a certain degree with the understanding of the characters and the knowledge of what has gone before but I honestly believe it can be read as a stand-alone. As the book begins we learn that the all the population of Oasis City worships the fennec fox as a sacred animal. All that is except for Enchantress Hiresha, the woman who is being forced to marry the animal; she  believes her fiancé is possessed by nothing more divine than fleas, and she also objects to the wedding venue: the afterlife, gained after priests have trapped her in an airless sarcophagus with the her new husband. She has only four days of engagement left to live and must find a solution to her deadly predicament…

I am happy to admit that I do not and probably will not always understand everything that goes on in an AE Marling book, but this is something I am okay with as long as I understand enough. And I have learned from reading Steven Erikson that everything may shortly make sense later on, or upon a re-read. And so I'm grateful to Steven Erikson for this as his Malazan books instilled in me the patience to stick with, and to enjoy, the books that are sometimes a little confusing but ultimately highly rewarding. Marling's world is very, very rich: the people, the religions, the clothes. Everything is just a little bit larger than life and at times can even touch on the bizarre… but I liked it, I relished it, and as long as the story and the characters hold my interest and my empathy I will continue to do so.

I would recommend Fox's Bride to readers who like be challenged, readers that are prepared to work for their reward and do not like being spoon-fed. Marling's imagination is impressive and using words he paints extremely vivid mental images that will stay with you long after finishing the last page.

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