posted in: Fantasy, Short Story | 0

smoke and fearsby Laura VanArendonk Baugh


Marsden cannot remember his real name, nor how he came to be a valet for the schoolboy son of a powerful magician. Phantom wisps of incense and narrow glimpses of memory are all he has, until he chances upon a family secret which only compounds intrigue. What might his young master Abel know of his amnesia? What binds him to the Wensleys? And why does he, a simple valet, know fragments of magic?

“From the moment we meet Marsden, reeling from a lungful of smoke and unable to remember his own name, I found myself entranced.”

“Engaging characters moving about in a world that is surprisingly vivid for a short story.”

“Yes, I totally bought into it, can’t wait for more. Speedy little story, nice style, not a wasted word.”

CIR: What gave you the idea for this story?

BAUGH: I’d had in mind for years a sort of Victorian mage-punk story in which an amnesiac was trapped among magic-users. (I actually dreamed it at first.) When I finally wrote the story, though, it came out quite differently.

CIR:  Who will like this story?

BAUGH: There’s a mystery – who is Marsden, and how did he come to be valet to a magician’s schoolboy? – and there’s magic, and there’s a bit of intrigue, and of course it’s all in Victorian society. Historical and fantasy fans should try it. (One of my favorite reviews reported that the reader didn’t normally read fantasy, but really enjoyed this!)

CIR: What is the main character like?

BAUGH: Marsden is trying to the do the right thing and trying to fit within the only role he has. He’s a good valet, and he even likes his young master, but the gaping void of his memory prods him to seek answers to who he really is. And he’s the kind of person who can’t set his conscience aside.

CIR: Is there any content that some readers might find questionable despite the overall “clean” feel of the book?

BAUGH: There’s some stylized magical violence and a few stylized insults, but nothing graphic or terribly alarming. If this were a film, it’d be rated PG.

CIR: Is there more coming?

BAUGH: That’s a solid possibility!  I got so much feedback requesting a sequel that it’s definitely on my to-do list, and I’ve even started toying with some plot ideas for a series of shorts.