“The Streets of Nottingham” is a quick little fantasy adventure novella that follows the story of a young boy as he races to bring his childhood sweetheart back from the dead. Along the way, he meets the paranormal god-like figures that have given shape to his village/world, and struggles to get to the place that is foretold in all the ancient scrolls, and yet no one has ever been to in order to save his friend… It’s a titillating premise and Simwinga has a lovely talent for being able to craft a story that feels like an ancient folk tale mixed with some wonderful fantasy elements. But, as is sometimes the case with novellas, I found the length of this story to be the biggest detriment to it, for the author can tell a fun, almost lyrical story, but I always found myself wanting a bit more.
It takes “The Streets of Nottingham” a minute to really find its groove, the first chapter was a bit confusing as the reader is shoved right into the action with no world building, and then from there it reads a little like a dream state/stream of consciousness as the reader is introduced to the god-king and his daughter Rain, or “mother”. And while our main character, Adam, is focused on bringing back his sweetheart, we are also told the struggle between the gods and the “breaking of the world”. These two events are linked a little, but felt a bit too separate, so the novella format may not have been the best in order to present this history rich world to the reader and have them both understand the gods relationship with each other and the village, as well as the rules and customs of the village itself and why the main character struggles to fit in, and save his lady love at the same time. I know I was struggling a bit to really get immersed in the world because of this. That and I kept thinking of the real Nottingham in England which has absolutely no relation to the Nottingham Adam tries to get to, but that was very, very minor all things considered, but is still something to keep in mind.
I really did like the vibe this story had; it had some beautifully dark elements that I tend to enjoy in fantasy, I also enjoyed the folk tale elements of the god-king and his contentious relationship with his other god-like brethren and their relationship to the world. I just wish there had been more world building so I could get a better sense of it all and then the twist of Adam and his role in the village and what he’s able to accomplish would have been all the more satisfying. It’s just the tricky thing with writing a fantasy in such a short format, if you try to do too much, the world and even the characters and story itself don’t feel as robust as they should. That’s also why this is one of my shortest reviews, there’s just not a lot for me to say without spoiling anything. Simwinga is a very talented writer though, and even though this is a 3.5 star for me because I just needed more from this story to truly get it, I will be watching the author closely; you can just tell he’s got more great stories to tell! And thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for review!
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