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A promise that cannot be broken. A wife who will not accept defeat.

The Burial by Drew Montgomery is a short standalone fantasy novel about a woman who undertakes a perilous journey to see her warrior husband laid to rest.

Several conversations I’ve had in the past year discussed the need for stories in fantasy about the strong women who were left behind when the soldiers head off to war, and in The Burial we are given a story that attempts exactly that.

Eira’s husband Gwil is called away by their liege lord to fight in a Holy War, and she is left to tend the farm with their three children. Tension seeps off the page as she waits for any news of Gwil and the other men from their village. When the inevitable news finally reaches her that her husband’s regiment has been brutally slaughtered by their enemy down to the last man, their devout village is horrified at the prospect of their husbands, brothers, and friends left without their last rites.

The horror of beloved souls wandering without a proper burial isn’t enough to drive the villagers into any action, and they grieve within the confines of their homes. But Eira refuses to accept this end for her husband, and she embarks on the journey of a lifetime into the wild lands of war to find her husband’s body and give him the last rites he deserves.

The Burial brings us a poignant tale of a woman willing to face her own death to honor her husband. Montgomery pulls back the curtain to honor the heroes who never see the frontline of a battle, those who are left behind. Eira is a protagonist who takes hold of her own agency with an iron grip and refuses to be deterred by any hurdle placed in her path on her way to finding the one she loves.

The story is almost dreamlike in its execution. Even outside of Eira’s own dreams, the reader’s journey has an ethereal quality, as if we are moving trancelike through the prose alongside the characters. Stepping away from the more commonly told story of the brave warrior, The Burial exchanges furious action scenes for the intimate view of grief and the undying bond of true love.

Quite a few moments in the plot felt a bit rushed or contrived, especially with Eira’s traveling companions. The author did not pull any punches when it came to the harsh realities of war and how it dehumanizes the people involved in it, which at times leaned into shock value instead of emotional immersion. Eira’s dream sequences also felt a bit overindulged as the book went on.

However, I believe that stories like this one have an important place in the fantasy genre. The epic, bloody tales of the sword-wielding hero, the powerful mage, and complex political schemes are all aspects of the genre that have built its epic reputation, but The Burial honors the stories that often get overlooked and deserve to be heard.

The Burial by Drew Montgomery

The Burial by Drew Montgomery

The Burial by Drew Montgomery

The Burial by Drew Montgomery

The Burial by Drew Montgomery

The Burial by Drew Montgomery

The Burial by Drew Montgomery

The Burial by Drew Montgomery

ToriTecken

Tori is a wife, a stay-at-home mom, and a storyteller. Published for the first time at the age of 14, she now writes in a variety of fantasy subgenres with an emphasis on dark epic fantasy. Tori also runs the Youtube channel ToriTalks, where she reads, reviews, and hosts discussions with readers and authors.

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