Never has a curse. It's a useful curse to have at times, as it has saved his life on more than one occasion. But it's a curse nonetheless – or is it? Whatever it is, Never wants to know why he has it and what it means. He sets out on a journey to find out with nothing more than a hunch that the answer lies somewhere in the mysterious and remote Amber Isle.
The Amber Isle by Ashley Capes is a fantasy adventure novella that includes one of my favourite elements of the genre – the quest. We begin at an Inn (which I always love) where we meet our hero, Never. Never is wry, witty and just a touch cocky. While it's frequently secondary characters who get all the best lines in fantasy adventures – think Peregrin Took and Merry Brandybuck – in this book, the best lines are left squarely with the main character, Never. Yes, Never has a bit of a mouth that runs away with him and leads him into trouble, but he made me laugh on more than one occasion.
Capes is a master of imagery, and in this aspect he doesn't disappoint with The Amber Isle. The setting is conveyed beautifully. The political world is in somewhat of a mess as the empire of Malosa slowly falls to the Vadiya invasion. This tumultuous background, though not fully fleshed out, was interesting, and I anticipate we'll be seeing more of it in future installments of the series.
Readers who enjoy action, adventure, humour and a dollop of mystery with their fantasy will eat up this novella. For a short book, it also has an interesting cast of secondary characters and I hope we see their return.