This is a collection of six short stories set in the ancient past of the Storm Dancer world, mixing both fantasy and horror themes into a delicious concoction that never fails to surprise, disturb and entertain.
“Kin” begins the collection in fine morality play fashion. Here Leha has three daughters; the first two she is proud of, and the third she has disowned. After a terrible natural disaster lays low the land, Leha journeys to the city to take succor from the two daughters whom she loves. Her journey and what she discovers there teaches her much about kindness, selfishness, true love, and forgiveness.
“Greywalker” is a zombie-like tale that is morbidly delightful. From the beginning, it is clear what is going to inevitably happen, but the main character has such noble intentions you find yourself hoping that he will escape his fate. My favorite story of the collection.
“The Water of Truth” is another morality play; this time based around the folly of greed. Here a young man becomes educated before returning home to monetize the well of truth that his family controls. While he glorifies in the riches that begin to pour in, his uneducated sister sees the folly in his actions and their inevitable consequences.
“Each Stone” centers on a princess’ desperate internal struggle to master a game of chance and save her loyal supporters before they are executed. Naturally, though, there is a catch to the game.
“The Colour of Dishonour” is a very clever fantasy take on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic horror short story “The Tell-Tale Heart.” I really enjoyed it, but if I told you more, I’d ruin the surprises in store for you.
“A Horse for a Hero” ends this collection on a high note with the tale of a winged horse who dreams of finding “a knight in shining armor” to become his rider. Things don’t go exactly as he plans though, and his life leads him to places he never dreamed possible. The ending is especially ironic.
In scope and depth, The Colour of Dishonour collection reminded me of reading Greek myths, where those too foolish, too proud, or too hasty get themselves into circumstances they never intended to be in. And if you — like me — enjoy those type of entertaining but weighty morality tales, then these stories by Rayne Hall will not disappoint.