Well of Sorrows
By Benjamin Tate
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
As this tale starts, refugees fleeing a pending war find that even across the sea, they are not safe nor wanted. Their final option is leaving again, striking out across a vast unknown wilderness. Their expedition it is threatened by inhospitable terrain, unnatural weather, and unknown peoples. Fleeing destruction by those known as dwarren, their wagon train makes its last stand near a dark forest. The real danger is not from these savage inhabitants of the plains, but from the very shadows of the woods. All members perish except Colin, a young boy, who is guided to the Well of Sorrows. Its water saves him, while turning him into something other than human. Is he capable of bringing peace to human, dwarren, and Alvritshai, while protecting all from the dark spirits of the forest?
Whether he writes as Benjamin Tate or Joshua Palmatier, this author is a master world builder. In Well of Sorrows he introduces an alien world much like our Earth of several hundred years ago. Colin and his family could be displaced Europeans looking for a new start in America. It is only when the expedition heads out onto the unexplored plains that we learn this world is inhabited by peoples, powers, and spirits completely alien to what we know. Wisely, he introduces these aspects slowly, giving the reader time to absorb them and to learn about the world along with the tale’s participants. Magic plays a subtle but ever increasing role, but it is an extension of the natural order of this world, rather than an abstract force.
This is a very entertaining read, ending with a twist causing the reader to want and need to read the sequel.
Well of Sorrows, ISBN 978-0-7564-0602-8, was published by DAW Books and is available for $16.00 in bookstores nationwide.