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Hollow Courts (A Changeling: The Lost Novella Collection) $2.99
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Adria K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/14/2023 22:42:13

First off, an admission: one of the authors, Alethea, is a Facebook friend of mine. Does that make me a little biased toward her particular story? Maybe. But I'm more trying to go into this as a fan of Changeling than just a fan of hers (although thanks to her FB shoutout for letting me know this book existed.)

Changeling the Lost, particularly 2nd edition, is definitely not your mama's faerie tales and the stories in this anthology reflect that. They don't shy away from the cruelness of the Gentry and the fear and loss their escaped playthings feel, despite having fought their way back and the freedom they've won. The stories are bittersweet. The happy endings come with a cost or a caveat. As someone who likes happy endings, this can be a bit of a downer but, as I said, knowing CtL like I do, I am not surprised, nor am I disappointed and I don't think fans of the game will be, either. I also think the anthology is a good way to get players and storytellers into a good mindset before playing, since it presents the world of the game in more detail and in some ways on a more personal level than the rulebook.

To the stories themselves, I very much enjoyed them. One of the twists in Spring I don't want to say was telegraphed but savvy readers will pick up on it. This is the story, I think, that best encompasses the game, from the presence of the Crone to the machinations of the Courts and the Gentry. There is the importance of Oaths and of the community of the Lost. Summer, I think, is a good exploration of a Lost character. It deals with the guilt and the worry of one who has broken free yet is still looking over their shoulder but also has the catharsis of acceptance and moving on from such a dark time in their lives. It also does well to explain the Huntsmen, which are more prevalent in 2nd edition. Autumn (which is Alethea's story) was probably my favorite, again, not just because it was hers, but it is the happiest of the stories and more full of adventure and framed around the more traditional faerie tale. It invokes not just the presence of magic (and the capricious nature of it) but triumph and overcoming, moreso than in the Summer tale. Winter was probably my least favorite. While it touches on the grief and loss the Court is supposed to embody, it seemed...rushed as a story or like there were parts that the author had to trim out for brevity's sake. At the beginning, it does well to touch on the slippery slope Lost can walk between free will and falling back into their Keeper's whims but then it seems to change tone and never quite gets into the new main character's head or motivations and to me, barely scratches the surface of the purpose of the journey. No real marks against it, but I also noticed a mismatch in a character's name and a few typos in this one.

As I said above, this is a really good anthology for the source material. The stories don't exactly wind together but familiar names and events are present throughout all four. If you're a fan of the game, pick it up. If you're just learning the game, pick it up. If you like twisted faerie tales, pick it up. If schadenfreude is your thing, pick it up. Some familiarity with the source material is good but not necessarily required. The authors do a good job of working the lore into the stories, sometimes outright explaining via character thoughts while other times working it naturally into the narrative where simply capitalizing a word cues you in on the aspect of the game they're talking about. It never feels forced, though, or like an out of place lore-dump that interrupts the flow of the story. New fan or old, do yourself a favor and pick this up. It's definitely worth the read. Promise.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Hollow Courts (A Changeling: The Lost Novella Collection)
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