I can't imagine anything more challenging for a writer than to create a fully-realized story, complete with world-building, emotional drama, conflict, symbolism, romance and wonderful characters, and pack all of that into 76 pages. I consider most "quickie" stories an amuse bouche....something quick and tasty, but not a full meal. Usually when I finish a short story I am craving more, feeling somewhat gypped by the length of the novel.
The Language Of Souls by Lena Goldfinch is short, sweet, romantic and completely and utterly satisfying. It felt like a full course meal packed into 76 little pages. Incredibly well-written pages, I might add. Goldfinch has created a stunning work for her debut "novellette" and I can't wait to read more of her stories.
The beginning evoked Island of the Blue Dolphins, one of my favorite childhood books. Goldfinch does a remarkable job with the world-building in this story...the setting really comes alive. This little book has everything I desire in my romance novels....fascinating characters, just the right amount of conflict/tension, and a satisfying HEA. It also had wonderful layers of symbolism, from the soul-containing "votifs" to the extraordinary kiss. I actually kept repeating "Oh! Oh! Oh!" after I finished the final page of the story. I don't remember the last time I read such a romantic scene, and I love the fact that a simple kiss was elevated to something so powerful and emotional. Especially for us jaded romance/erotica readers...I think we sometimes forget about the power of a simple kiss. Lena Goldfinch reminded me, and it was a beautiful thing.
(For a blurb and excerpt, see this Penelope post.)