Fog and Fireflies

T. H. Lehnen

Publisher: Aspen and Thorn Press Pages: 375 Price: (hardcover) $34.95 ISBN: 9798989861026 Reviewed: March, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

In Fog & Fireflies, author T.H. Lehnen turns norms of the young adult fantasy genre on their head in a way that’s refreshing and intriguing.

In many ways, Lehnen’s tale falls neatly in the bounds of a classic fantasy narrative: An all-encompassing evil threatens a faraway, imagined world, and a determined hero embarks on an epic quest to foil villains and restore peace. Here, however, the baddie is a malevolent fog, a faceless, nameless antagonist that’s the physical remnant of a wizard’s war from hundreds of years ago.

The fog is a constant threat to the scattered towns and villages where primitive security systems have developed to keep the threat at bay. In one of those isolated places, Windmill Town, 14-year-old Ogma is one of the oldest sentinels who keep watch on the town walls, to ensure the fog stays at bay. The fog is fatal after a certain age, so children stand as the bulwark. Ogma’s role, however, suddenly shifts when she spots a figure outside the walls, trapped in the fog, and joins a rescue effort. This meeting with Dunkirk, a young warrior, kicks off a struggle that pits Ogma against an array of foes and leaves her facing the fog’s threats alone. Her eventual struggle could banish the fog for good—or put the scattered islands of humanity at risk.

Lehnen’s narrative vision is unique, compelling and well realized throughout. The author fills his prose with child-like wonder and innocence while masterfully creating tension worthy of a Stephen King novel. Indeed, Lehnen delivers truly frightening moments where the book feels more like a horror tale designed for adults than a YA fantasy.

Overall, however, Lehnen skillfully balances the story’s ingredients. Ogma is a sympathetic protagonist, and the author invests her battle against truly eerie forces with pathos, compassion and authenticity.

Lehnen’s story may deter younger readers who aren’t ready for the book’s overall tone, but those at ease with some creepiness in their fantasy will find much to delight in in these pages.

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