Title: Rosetta Gnome
Author: Ashley Parker Owens
Genre: Fantasy / Speculative Fiction
Twenty-one-year-old gnome Wil and his traveling companion, a sad rabbit named Roddy, wash up on a riverbank after escaping from a fire in their village. They meet a group of gnomes who welcome them to their clan of former slaves who were forced to work on ogre fields. Wil is delighted to finally belong somewhere, while Roddy is fearful of the clan—rabbits are not typical friends of gnomes, let alone to the leader’s pet cat, Meer.
After a series of frightful and violent events, Wil becomes a leader within the clan of gnomes and marries the simple yet clairvoyant Rosetta, though he pines for another. Wil wishes to redirect the clan’s mission from killing ogres and stealing from them to gardening, his passion and a gnome’s innate skill.
Even though the story is the second installment of a series, those who have not read the first book will not feel too lost. The plot is very unique and can stand on its own as a story without the background information from book one. The world-building, however, might have been fleshed out more in the first book and people who have read it might have a better understanding of the world they are reading about than those who have only read book two.
The author is gifted in writing precise descriptions of characters and the environment the characters are in. Her descriptions of Lucia are enchanting, and readers will almost fall in love with her as Wil did in the story. While readers can vividly picture the world, some specificity on time period and the places the characters journey to could help ground readers into the beautifully illustrated scenes.
Wil’s character is one of the most intriguing in the book. Readers can empathize with his feelings of loneliness and his desire to belong somewhere. His neurotic habit of counting to ease his stress and anxiety makes him a relatable and layered character, especially when compared to his slight naivete and humble love for gardening. These attributes make for great internal tension when Wil is faced with hard decisions that often lead to someone’s death.
The clan of gnomes that Wil and Roddy are accepted into is fascinating. Their morals and motivations based on their enslaved pasts parallel real-life situations. Readers could have interesting discussions about these parallels if the clan’s way of life is analyzed in a scholarly manner.
Rosetta Gnome revolves around the clan and Wil’s participation of it. While there are many action scenes and astonishing plot points, readers might not see the purpose of these plot sequences on the grander scale. They—especially those readers who have not read the first book and do not know what motivates the embarkment of Wil’s journey—might not understand the purpose or reasons why these characters are making the choices that they are and what the end goals are supposed to be.
Parker Owens has created a world full of children’s fairy tale creatures for adults. Step into the realm of lush gardens and slave-owning ogres and just try not to fall in love with the fantastic characters. The creatures from childhood stories have grown up, too, and now have their own narratives to tell.
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