5 Stars, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: Immortal by Amy Lane

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Title: Immortal

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

At a Glance: Immortal is a gorgeous novel, eloquent in its joy and sorrow, hopeful in its promise of forever, meaningful in the way of fairy tales that teach us we are each the crucibles of love, and love is the conqueror of hate.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: When Teyth was but a child, a cruel prince took over his village, building a great granite tower to rule over the folk. Greedy and capricious, the man will be the bane of Teyth’s existence as an adult, but as a boy, Teyth is too busy escaping his stepfather to worry about his ruler.

Sold into apprenticeship to the local blacksmith, Teyth finds that what was meant as a punishment is actually his salvation. Cairsten, the smith, and Diarmuid, his adopted son, are kind, and the smithy is the prosperous heart of a thriving village. As Teyth grows in the craft of metalwork, he also grows in love for Diarmuid, the gentle, clever young man who introduces him to smithing.

Their prince wants Diarmuid too. As the tyrant inflicts loss upon loss on Teyth and Diarmuid, Teyth’s passion for his craft twists into obsession. By the time Teyth resurfaces from his quest to create immortality, he’s nearly lost the love that makes being human worth the pain. Teyth was born to sculpt his emotion into metal, and Diarmuid was born to lead. Together, can they keep their village safe and sustain the love that will make them immortal?

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Review: Fairy tales are a true art form, often dismissed, I feel, for their foreordained destination (the happily-ever-after) rather than appreciated for the journey, which is where the alchemy and symbolism take place. There is a darkness to fairy tales, sometimes a darkness which makes it difficult to find the light at the end of the tale, but it’s during the dark (the figurative burning of the nigredo stage of the alchemical process the hero must endure on his transformative journey) that the richness of the story exists.

This truth is present and accounted for in Amy Lane’s Immortal, the story of a ten-year-old boy sold to the town blacksmith by his wicked stepfather, the foundational villain upon which Teyth’s life is built. Cairsten, the blacksmith, is the gentle giant in this story; Diarmuid, his stalwart protégé, is possessed of the kind and patient nature which serves as the balm Teyth’s soul needs to mend the damage his stepfather had tried to do. Diarmuid is the promise Teyth’s soul needs when his body is broken and bent but his heart and spirit endure. Diarmuid is Teyth’s ascension when a fall from grace seems to leave him all but one small step from death, and it’s here that the allegorical burn resides.

As no respectable fairy tale can be complete without one, the forest plays its part in this story as well—the magical realm within a realm where dark and light, questions and answers, coexist, and is the symbolic place within which our heroes discover the greatest mysteries of life, death, love, physical and spiritual union, and loss. And even as with Shakespeare’s own Birnam Wood, it is the forest which also serves in the end to play destiny to a malicious prince. Within this wood, there is salvation and sacrifice, where trees are the gods that hear confessions. Within this wood, there is vengeance and asylum. Within this wood, there is a covenant of divine energy which represents mortality and immortality in blood and earth. Without this wood, there is the good and evil of humanity.

The beauty of Immortal is in the meticulous weaving and layering of the relationships, the fantasy, and the forging of a life through trial in the fires of grief that threatens to consume, and a burning love that serves as salvation. Time is fleeting, the seasons are the ouroboros of figurative death and rebirth, and love is the immutable within the pages of this book: every detail in this story acts as a shaping and altering of its characters and the village its people suffer to protect, even as Teyth’s own shaping and altering of the base and precious metals gifted to him by their forest become the tangible proof of his heart and soul, his hurt and hope, and the symbols around which he will discover his own immortality.

There is a tang of bittersweet to this fairy tale, which is where the story ends, at a new beginning, begging the reader to find the happy ending within life’s cycles of love, sacrifice, and a separate peace. Teyth’s name means Silence, and is the irony of the words within the pages of a book—that the written word and the characters within are indeed the immortal of all immortals, speaking to us and living well beyond us all, keeping alive the mythologies and mysteries even beyond death.

Immortal is a gorgeous novel, eloquent in its joy and sorrow, hopeful in its promise of forever, meaningful in the way of fairy tales that teach us we are each the crucibles of love, and love is the conqueror of hate. Teyth and Diarmuid are each other’s strength and weakness, their lives tainted by evil and redeemed by their ability to embrace what they’d built together through their hurt and heartache. Immortal is the sort of book that will be unique to each reader, personal in the way of our own perceptions and interpretations influencing the story. But, whichever way you look at it, it’s the journey as well as the destination that make it all worthwhile.

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