Fractured by D. Hart St. Martin
When seventeen-year-old Lisen Holt decides to go down to the beach at night, little does she know that life as she knows it is about to change forever. One moment she’s in Malibu, watching the waves crash in under the weak light of a slivered moon, the next an eerie appearance in grey robes has her flat on her back while doing some sort of magic over her. And when Lisen next regains full consciousness, she is no longer on Earth; she is in the haven of Solsta, an isolated outpost of learning and healing in a world known as Garla.
Even worse than finding herself transported elsewhere against her own will, are the physical changes to her body. Lisen no longer has breasts; instead she has a furry pouch further down her torso, making her some sort of human marsupial. In brief, Lisen has a lot to take in, starting with the fact that apparently she was born here, in Garla, and transported for her own safety to Earth some seven years ago.
Garla is, from a feminist perspective, an interesting place. Parents share the burden of “pouching” their young; women are as often as men chosen to hold positions of high power; all grandees, no matter gender, are addressed as “my lord”; and to top it all off, the ruler is also a woman, the Empir Flandari. Ms. Hart St. Martin is to be commended for all her strong female characters – some of them bad, some of them good, but all of them interesting.
During her first few days in Garla, Lisen’s memories of her earlier life at Solsta are restored to her, and slowly she starts coming to terms with the fact that this is where she belongs. Which is when yet another surprise is sprung on her, namely that she is the true Heir to the Empir Flandari, and therefore next in line to the throne. Due to a dire prophesy, Lisen was spirited away from her mother while still in her mother’s pouch so as to ensure she grew up safe from her twin brother’s evil intents – which per definition means Lisen grew up without her mother.
Too much, Lisen thinks, and as the reader one can but sympathise with this young, bright woman who suddenly has a new name, Ariannas, a mother she has never met, a twin brother, Ariel, who apparently is evil incarnate, and a new mission in life, namely to become the next Empir once her mother dies. The Empir Flandari herself is coming to fetch Lisen home and train her for her new role, but unfortunately she is murdered by an assassin, and the single time Lisen will hold her mother in her arms is while the poor woman is dying.
The assassin takes poison, but due to her newly discovered spiritual gifts Lisen manages to make connection with the assassin’s soul as it departs, and learns that the assassin has been hired by no other than her brother, Ariel.
And so the author has set the scene for quite the romp through the world of Garla, with Lisen under orders to stay hidden until she is strong enough to challenge her brother, while Ariel suspects there is something fishy about the young woman he heard held Flandari as she died, but has no idea this is his sister.
Ms. Hart St. Martin presents her readers with an interesting alternative world, and she has populated this world with a number of characters, such as Lisen herself, her allies Jozan and Korin, and the manipulative Lorain, Ariel’s ambitious lover. Other than Lisen, my personal favourite is Korin, a man of few words but a huge heart, who takes his new job as Lisen’s bodyguard very seriously. I also like it that Lorain is a complex character, not necessarily evil, but rather driven to act as she does.
The story revolves around Lisen, Ms. Hart St. Martin’s very likeable protagonist. More than bewildered by the turns her life has taken, Lisen proves herself courageous and intrepid, handling one stranger situation after the other with aplomb. Her confusion, her grief over her lost life on Earth, her fear of this destiny suddenly shoved down her throat – all of this is well-described. Add to this Lisen’s engaging capacity to be self-deprecating, and we have a heroine it is very easy to root for.
Fractured has its fair share of magic, starting with the initial chapter when Lisen is spirited back to her real world. I’m a sucker for well-described magic, and one of the more fascinating passages in the book is when Lisen is possessed by a soul she tries to guide to the afterlife. Lisen’s self is threatened by this unwelcome guest, and the author does a great job of portraying the borderline schizophrenia that afflicts Lisen – and the utter relief she feels when she is back to being alone in her head again.
Ms. Hart St. Martin’s writing flows easily across the pages, making this an enjoyable and entertaining read. My one gripe is the very abrupt ending, leaving the reader very much hanging as to what will happen to Lisen next – but should one want to find out, Ms. Hart St. Martin has been kind enough to publish a sequel.
About the author: D. Hart St. Martin opened her eyes to life in La Jolla, California during the baby boom. She grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Pomona where she served as editor of her high school yearbook. Throughout high school, she and her best friend constantly made up stories and sometimes even wrote them down. In her late twenties, she devoted three years to writing the very first draft of her very first book. Now, thirty-five years later, she has published Fractured, volume one of the Lisen of Solsta trilogy. For more information about Ms. Hart St. Martin, please visit her website.
The author has also kindly offered a paperback copy of Fractured to gift to one of our lovely readers. To get your name in the hat, simply comment below or on our Facebook thread. We'll draw a name, so keep an eye out because out could be yours!
Anna Belfrage is the author of five published books, all part of The Graham Saga. Set in the 17th century, the books tell the story of Matthew Graham and his time-travelling wife, Alex Lind. Anna can be found on amazon, twitter, facebook and on her website. If you would like Anna to review your book, please see our submissions tab above.