REVIEW: Lord Heliodor’s Retirement by Amy Rae Durreson
Lord Adem Heliodor might have survived the Screaming, a magical attack which slaughtered his friends and colleagues in front of him, but his struggle to recover his nerves sees him forced into early retirement. Returning to his childhood home in the countryside, he isn’t expecting to find missing information about the plot which caused the Screaming or to find himself once more face-to-face with the man he loved and lost decades before.
Dear Ms. Durreson,
Once I’d finished one story by you, I immediately went and cast around looking for another one. The sample sold me on trying this one what with the older hero who has saved the day only to have his PTSD catch up with him necessitating a retirement to the country. The “Screaming” sounded awful and despite my shivers of unease about it, I just had to now what it was and was it the end of Lord Heliodor’s problems.
Adem Heliodor is a gruff, lifelong servant to the Crown and the people. His actions saved his Queen from the horror that overtook so many of Heliodor’s fellow counselors and friends. Watching them suffer and being glad when they finally died is only one of the things that haunts him. Still he chafes at being “urged” into retirement as the green countryside is too green, bucolic, and quiet after decades in the capital.
Arriving home, he’s dismayed that the staff has turned out to greet him and his PTSD is accidentally triggered by the actions of one. But this man is not whom he seems – for a number of reasons. When danger begins to lurk again, does Adem have it in him to put aside his fears of the past and call on his courage once again?
I could sympathize with Adem as we both remember what it felt like to be younger. Booyah for an older hero who isn’t slim, who gets winded when he runs, and isn’t able to jump in the saddle and ride for days without waking up with aches and pains. But his lover doesn’t seem to mind the new (older) Adem and I enjoyed their slow courtship instead of the frenzy of youth. He’s also able to help Adem begin to deal with the pent up memories and mental anguish of What Happened. No, Adem’s not completely healed and fine when the story ends but then that would be unlikely. This felt more realistic.
The paranormal aspect is spooky and creepy with just enough told about it to raise my hackles. This is a short story (mini-novella?) but the world building is enough to paint a picture of this place and these people. I was glad that the story dwelt on the slow burn romance and felt satisfied with the outlines of their future by the end. Now what to read next? B