One girl. A reincarnated war god. The chance to stop the carnage before it begins. Emmaline Rain’s father is the Stoneman....

Review of The Deer King

One girl. A reincarnated war god. The chance to stop the carnage before it begins.

Emmaline Rain’s father is the Stoneman. His responsibility: travel into Massaporan lands and end the life of the reincarnated Massaporan deity—the Deer King—the instant he is born. But when he fails in this task, the delicate equilibrium between Emmaline’s people and the Massaporans is disturbed. It seems likely that the violence of the past will be renewed.

Emmaline’s father is soon murdered by a priest of the Bronze Titan for his shortcomings. Newly orphaned, Emmaline absconds with the Saving Stone in the hopes of finding the Deer King and completing her father’s work. But when she comes face-to-face with the Deer King, she realizes that relations between her people and the Massaporans are more complicated than she has been led to believe. 

The Deer King is the first in a planned series of fantasy novellas set in Dreyland, a colonial world where the indigenous people rely on the strength of a reincarnated god to help them offset the technological superiority of the settlers. 

First off, I love the cover for this book. It puts me instantly in mind of back bottom shelves of the library. The smell of old books and coffee. Pages yellowed with time. I can "feel" that book in my mind. That's a wonderful place for a book to take you, especially when it happens to be in e-book format, so I had very high hopes for the story contained within.

Once diving in, The Deer King did not disappoint. I was instantly whisked up out of my house and into Emmaline's world. Her story begins with watching her father leave. An odd place for a novella to start; The leaving. As we watch and wait with Emmaline, we soon learn why Brutus Rain leaves in the middle of the night, in all kinds of weather. One day, he takes her brother into his secrecy and one day, her father returns without him. The truth then unfolds and thus begins Emmaline's trials.

The descriptions that the author uses immediately transports you there with Emmaline throughout her adventures. Startlingly reminiscent of a fairytale, or even a high epic fantasy, this novella certainly makes good use of its pages. The amount of ground covered both by Emmaline and the story itself is incredibly spacious. The pacing is quick but the world and characters introduced are varied and vast. In a very short time, I was invested in Emmaline's story.

Even if you think you don't like fantasy, The Deer King's allure may make a believer of you yet.

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4 Paws Up!

4 paws up

About the Author

Ben Spencer

Ben Spencer lives in Concord, North Carolina with his wife and daughter. He is currently hard at work on a series of epic fantasy novellas entitled The Deer King. His novel, The Brick Mason's Sons, is available from Knock-Knee Books. Ben's fiction has appeared in Literary Orphans, Corner Bar Magazine, and Scholars & Rogues. He has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is the author of Temperance Unraveling. 
Please visit his website,, for more information.