The Untold Tale is an epic fantasy related through the eyes of Forsyth Turn, Lord of Lysse Chipping and secret spymaster to the King. He also happens to be the younger brother of a rather more extroverted hero Kintyre Turn; slayer of dragons, scourge of the evil Viceroy and his minions, who is always accompanied by his faithful sidekick (and biographer) Bevel. As Shadow Hand, notoriety is discouraged regardless, entirely in turn with Forsyth’s personality as an introvert.
The action begins when the Shadow Hand’s men rescue a woman who has been tortured by the Viceroy’s man Bootstrap. It soon becomes clear Lucy Piper (or Pip) isn’t from Forsyth’s world. Lucy seems to have strange insights into the mechanics of his world, greeting him by name when she regained consciousness. Forsyth has read of legends speaking of entities from beyond; Readers, second only to the Author itself who created the world and everything in it. Forsyth knows he must do whatever it takes to repatriate Lucy to wherever it is she truly belongs. He must fight the forces of the Viceroy, his glory-hogging brother, quests, and his own growing love for Pip to achieve her safe return.
I enjoyed The Untold Tale on a number of levels. At first, I’m reading it as a period fantasy and Lucy shows up with obvious anachronisms, which I initially attribute to poor writing having seen it all too often. J. M. Frey threw me a head-fake and I fell for it. I love it when that happens! Chastened, I read on to the end of a very compelling story. Frey injects some political correctness moralizing midway through but evenhandedly dials it back to where it is not off-putting for a reader. She also creates a second-half very complicated relationship situation which cannot resolve itself into a mostly happy ending without the use of a MacGuffin. Regardless of where you fall on resolution believability, it does engage thought on the topic and perhaps that was the entire point. I recommend The Untold Tale without reservation.
(Disclosure: I received a free copy through Veracious Readers Only!)