Will o' the Wisp (Aurora Grimeon)
by Tom Hammock
Edited by Rebecca Taylor
Cover Artist: Megan Hutchinson
Review by Gayle Surrette
Archaia Entertainment Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781936393787
Date: 03 December 2013 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Aurora Grimeon, 12 years of age, lost her parents when they decided to pick mushrooms in spite of the fact that they didn't really know what they were doing. They died, but Aurora lived because someone realized European thistle milk would cure Death Cap mushroom poisoning. Social Services looked for family, and the only member left was her grandfather, who lives on Ossuary Isle -- deep in the swamps of Louisiana.
She doesn't know her grandfather since her parents didn't get along with him. He did agree to take her in however, and even sent a strange note with instructions about her travel with a request that seems very, very weird.
....I have been asked by a woman of some influence on the Isle that you take care to only travel on odd numbered days and do not arrive on a day when the moon is full. She will enlighten us both as to the reasoning. Lastly, if you could bring your father's glass eye with you, I would be most grateful.The story manages to keep Aurora's action consistent with her age so that all her actions, reactions, and behavior are believable for a young girl set into a strange environment amid people she doesn't know with beliefs and customs she doesn't know. Her grandfather is a scientist with a raccoon companion/friend/pet named Missy. There's mystery and danger in the swamps and the local wise woman helps Aurora to settle in and learn to protect herself from the evil that dwells in the there.
There is real danger, but whether it is magical or evil the reader needs to decide as they share the adventure of a new home, customs, people, and beliefs with Aurora.
The artwork supports the story line and is evocative of the swamps with their otherworldly beauty and earthly danger. Characters are readily identifiable. The use of color or lack thereof adds indications of mood and atmosphere.
The story uses some interesting legends, myths, and beliefs that are not usually a standard trope in urban fantasy settings and that come together for a great story with heart.