I‘ve just had the pleasure of reading Shaala, Made of Stone, a fantasy novelette of the swords and sorcery variety, by Marsheila Rockwell and published by Musa.
From the intriguing title, which sets both a mythic tone and a question in the reader’s mind that this could be a story about a statue, to the opening line, ‘Shaala could hear the song of swords long before she came upon the battle’, we find that Shaala is real flesh and blood, but also a legend in her own lifetime, and living under a terrible curse.
The opening scene throws the reader (and Shaala) into a hard fought combat that leaves us with the picture of a woman who is cursed – and blessed with magical healing powers. Events unfold from here that take Shaala into a reflection of her own sorrowful past, with a bittersweet opportunity to redeem it in the echo of another woman’s loss, constraint and punishment.
The story has a beautifully evoked Arabic feel, down to the detailing of implements to the structure of names – I could almost feel the sand and smell the spices in this world. From the high action opening, Shaala’s past gradually seeps into the present story, leading to a poignant moment of recognition by the young woman whose loss Shaala decides to avenge.
You can visit Marsheila’s website here.