Three Hearts--If you love puzzles, fantasy based stories that features all sorts of magic and finishing the story without feeling you fully know the answer, let me introduce you to "Faerie Riddles" by Cassia Rose.
Alastar is a human researcher who studies all information he can get his hands on about magical creatures, namely the fae and changelings beyond the Great Iron Wall. The Wall separates the magical creatures and humans as fae are deathly allergic to iron. Changelings are as well. Changelings are special as they share a soul with an animal. (This is where the shifter requirement kicks in) Changelings choose their animal when they are ready to reach maturity.
Alastar gets to leave the Wall to study the magical beings every moon and he befriends Gadhar, a changeling who is a mule-sized dog and loves to tease Alastar with riddles. They travel through an enchanted forest, where they travel for days to changeling settlements.
As a first time author, I think Cassia Rose did a good job on setting a basis for the world created. However, it was too condensed to achieve the magic I think this story could've been. The writing style isn't my favorite and doesn't normally work for me. But I can see it being a better fit for readers who don't mind less romantic, high fantasy - there is only fade to black and mere kisses.
The romantic elements lacked chemistry for me. Not due to the fade to black scenes but Alastar didn't really seem to crush on Gadhar until late. I mean if you're gaga over a guy, wouldn't there be some hint closer to when you finally get to seem him after a month (or however long the moon cycle is in this world)? Gadhar read lackluster too in the romance department. I think the story would have worked without the romance as the main problem of the tale is short length.
Sometimes it can work, but there were changes that happened too quickly to rush through tacked on feelings. The setting however is the best part, though it too could have been stellar with about 5-10K of story, less time with riddles more time developing the main characters. I finished this with more questions than answers and it ended weird.
Definitely read worthy but not suggested for every reader.
Loved the cover, it was very fitting of "Faerie Riddles."
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A copy provided for an honest review.