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Ami's Hoard

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The Downs (Kim Fielding)

The Downs - Kim Fielding
“We don’t see the stars often in the Downs. When they do shine, it’s like a beautiful gift. Rare and unexpected. Everyone wanders outside to gape, and some people get so enamored they bump into houses and trees. We call them star-blind.... That’s me. You make me star-blind."

Enitan Javed is convicted of murdering his father and by order of the Judge, he is sentenced to be banished to the Downs, which is said to be filled with demons that torture the prisoners thrown there. Only when Enitan wakes up after his fall -- body battered and broken -- he finds that the Downs offers something very different than what he first imagined...

I honestly don't know how Fielding does it. I mean, she takes a rather vague prompt by the leash and writes something amazing in result. Although this is only a novella length (around 31k) The Downs is a rich story about two people finding love in the unlikeliest place. Rig is tender person, disregards his scars (kind of reminded me of Brute), and I loved him so. Enitan needs to be reminded about his self worth and to see something beautiful within the confines of The Downs -- he gets me little frustrated in the end when he can't see that and endanger the lovely Rig.

I also loved how Fielding described the differences between the Downs and the City. The Downs might be harsher and more dangerous in terms of the lands, with poisonous plants and killing fogs, but the people are kind and helpful. It's a place to heal and to reinvent yourself to be someone better. While The City, despite its facilities, offering light and brick and metal, but the people can be judgmental, selfish, prone to betray others, and well, alone and friendless....

After reading three Kim Fielding's stories in a row, I realize that this is the theme she often writes. Two imperfect people (often with physical scars) who heal each other and find love in process. It makes Fielding's stories character-driven, focuses on the journey of the relationship, even if it takes slower to get there. The Downs is a refined piece of story. Definitely one of my favorites from this year's Don't Read in the Closet Event