Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“A time long ago, when the Moon and Sun were friends and shared the same sky, a strange man wandered down an even stranger path.”
I haven’t read a good fantasy book for months and this short story was perfect for me to get back into the swing of things. It brought back so many memories of old stories I loved growing up and is such a dark and mysterious tale. I’m so happy to share my review on this one – if you love fantasy, get your hands on this!
In this folkloric tale, a man known only as the Stranger finds his way to another world and embarks on a journey to take back what he has lost. Watched with growing interest by ancient celestial beings, he faces a different challenge at every turn and each one more tempting than the last. Can he resist the temptations, or will the Four Winds sway his heart with bribes cloaked as gifts? This is a world of shadow and light, where the winds follow no particular direction and where even time has a will of its own.
This story is a unique one for so many reasons, but as soon as I read that first paragraph, I was taken back to the old fairy tales and folklore stories I used to love as a child. However, this story is so much more than a story that has been told a thousand times. We’re introduced to one character known simply as the Stranger who is on an unknown journey, stopped only by those who question his actions. Reading the opening to the book was addictive and the author’s tone and writing style was completely magical. Such amazing talent seeps through each sentence and I was left in awe so many times! I could happily read this author’s work a thousand times and still get the same excitement and joy that I did from the first read through.
“He pushed aside the tempting images the North Wind had embedded in his mind, for he knew a power such as this should never belong to him.”
Each time the Stranger is stopped on his journey, he explains why he is passing through different territories and that he must take back something that was once his. The mystery surrounding this got me thinking; what was this thing he needed so desperately that he was willing to sacrifice everything and travel through dangerous lands to get his hands on it once more? There is danger and destruction as he is challenged wherever he goes, but his determination is strong. I loved how each scene played out and I thought the beginning of this story was incredibly strong. What else would the Stranger have to endure in order to get to his final destination? Was there more hidden danger than he first thought, and how would each encounter mess with his mind?
Along his journey, the Stranger is offered bribes disguised as gifts, but soon stands up to each of the Winds trying to stand in his way. The South Wind scene in particular proved difficult, but every scene in the story quickly became so mesmerising, and I found it increasingly difficult to look away or even think about anything else. However, with each encounter with the Four Winds, danger escalates to the point where I wasn’t even certain the Stranger would be able to resist their offers. Would he be able to stick to the path he was determined to follow from the start? Would he ever be reunited with whatever it was that was his? I was truly in love with this story already, and was desperate to know the outcome.
“The East Wind had said that he would show him the way in. But would he also show him the way out?”
Each description of characters, places, thoughts and sounds were so impressive and so beautifully written. We feel everything so deeply thanks to the author’s words and I felt so apprehensive whenever the Stranger visited a new area due to how unexpected everything seemed. After refusing all the temptations of the Four Winds, the path was now open and ready for the Stranger to venture out for the one thing he needed from the start. The story is so memorable and I feel like I’ll be talking about this one for a while! I had one burning question left in my mind at this point – what was it that the Stranger needed? As much as I was looking forward to the ending, I could have happily continued reading this story all day!
The Stranger meets his final match, one last encounter after refusing all that the Four Winds offered him. Would he get out of this one alive? The suspense and the tension I felt at this point in the story was off the scale but I also felt a sense of accomplishment for the Stranger after everything he’s been through on his journey. We finally find out exactly what the Stranger seeks and I commended his bravery and courage. The story becomes a heartwarming and emotional one (hang on, is that a tear in my eye?!) Would the Three be understanding of his reasons and let him pass? He was willing to give anything for what he wanted, and what he proposes was the biggest shock of all.
“But what intrigues me more is not how far he has come but the respect he has shown along the way to the Four Winds, and to ourselves.”
The story ends on a saddening, yet beautiful note and I was left wanting to read this tale all over again. The beautiful, intricate illustrations from beginning to end really aid the telling of the story and in some ways, I just wished there was more of this story to tell! The story was such an incredible journey and I’m still finding myself thinking of the unforgettable ending and even what happens next for the Stranger. All characters in the book were created flawlessly, each with very memorable traits and personalities which made them impossible to ignore. A solid five star read, perfect for fantasy fans everywhere!
This is such a memorable tale that you won’t be able to erase from your mind. I’ve been sat here in awe writing this review and already I want to dive right back in and read it again! This book is simply beautiful and tells the tale of an unlikely Stranger with a very personal mission. He goes through immense danger, shows bravery and courage unlike anything you’ve ever seen and makes the ultimate sacrifice that will bring a tear to your eye. I simply can’t praise this story enough! The perfect fantasy tale to rekindle your love of the genre or even to enjoy in between bigger reads. Just perfect!
A huge thanks to the author of the book, Nataša Xerri, for my copy to read and review. You can purchase your own copy of A Stranger’s Tale on Amazon now. Make sure you’re following the author over on Facebook and Instagram for updates!