Prequel novellas occupy an interesting place in book series, particularly when they’re released after the series has launched, as is the case with S.M. McCoy’s My Abett. They have the unenviable job of not just telling a story set before the events of the first book in a short amount of space, but also capturing new readers’ attention and keeping returning readers interested. As a huge fan of the first book in the series, Kingdom of Acatalec (you can read my review for that here), and having enjoyed the author’s previous works within The Divine series (Blood Crescent, Blood Rebirth and Blood Queen), I found myself curious to see where she takes My Abbet.
Billed as “Book 0.5” of The Acatalec Series (which Goodreads must absolutely love; IYKNY), My Abett brings a story set before the events of Kingdom of Acatalec, about how its two major characters, Tyler (who served as that book’s protagonist) and Cable (Tyler’s love interest) meet. This novella sets them towards their paths to the story, with chapters alternating between each point of view. In taking this approach, it strikes a different feel than the novel. Tyler’s chapters feel very much like the first book, and readers who loved her first person narration in that will love it here. Cable’s chapters are written in the third person, resulting in a different feel to these. I imagine this was a deliberate decision by the author as he’s not the protagonist of Kingdom of Acatalec, and I assume won’t be through the rest of the series.
Coming back to Tyler’s narration feels like visiting an old friend. McCoy has a wonderful grip on the character and her voice, and I have always loved her narration. From the moment I started reading Tyler’s narration (starting with Chapter 2; her chapters are the even ones), I was transported back into the world, reminded of why I love the author’s writing. This prose is imbued with wit, and holds the reader’s attention. I found Cable’s chapters to be less successful, however. Written in the third person, these are drier than Tyler’s and the writing doesn’t sparkle like the first person prose does. It’s clear and easy to follow, but lacks the character that makes the first person chapters so wonderful. It’s fairly common for prequel novellas set within a series to not undergo the same level of editing as the mainline books, and My Abbet seems to have suffered the same fate. There are a few spelling errors and typos in the prose which drew my attention away from the book. It isn’t riddled with them, however, but readers will undoubtedly pick up on some. Another pass with its editing would have resolved these issues.
The characters are clearly defined, and My Abbet doesn’t require its readers to have read Kingdom of Acatalec to be drawn in by them. Much like that first book, Tyler is the star of the show. While her narration certainly helps the reader get in her head, she’s a thoroughly entertaining character and always a joy to read about. Abel, too, is a truly engaging character. Though not the protagonist, the book explores him in his own right, expanding upon his story and what makes him tick. Various other characters appear throughout the novella, but since they have relatively small roles in a short book, while they entertain, there isn’t the space to delve into them deeply.
In all of her books, McCoy has demonstrated a keen ear for dialogue, and that holds true here. Every character’s dialogue flows naturally, and all the characters sound distinct from each other, even those with small roles. It charms where it needs to, and the author picks just the right time to add some wit to it, bringing a smile to the reader’s face.
At 97 pages in paperback (and an estimated 89 pages on Kindle), My Abett doesn’t have a huge amount of space to fit its plot in. In focusing on both characters separately to one another, the book essentially has two plots to fit in. Neither plot is particularly complex, but work within the space of the book, while promising more to come. The added romance element also works in laying the groundwork for the future. The elements all come together nicely and encourage the reader to move between the pages to see how it all comes together, and how it resolves.
Like the preceding novel, My Abett moves at a slow pace. Where it feels like a deliberate decision in Kingdom of Acatalec, here, it feels like a symptom of the book’s two narrative threads. This enables new readers to discover the world, but as a returning reader, but there are points where I would have liked the pace to increase. This is a personal preference; something I see working differently for different readers. When the book “needs” to increase its pace, for instance, during sequences with more action, it does, ensuring these flow well.
Given the subtitle, Book 0.5 of the Acatalec Series, My Abbet was never going to be a fully standalone book. And being a novella telling this prequel story, it’s designed to lead into what’s to come in the first book and beyond. For readers picking this up without having read further, it’s an engaging read, but ends on a note that’s going to lead them to a full-length novel. The book straddles being one for new readers, enticing them to read The Acatalec Series, and one for returning readers, returning because they enjoy the world. As a reader coming from this after reading that first novel, My Abbet provides some extra colour to the world, which I enjoyed. But given the story it has to tell, I imagine new readers will have a different experience with Kingdom of Acatalec than I did, as it touches upon elements revealed in that book. It doesn’t spoil that first book, but reading it in context would play differently when you know who the characters are, and their backstories, ahead of time.
My Abbet works as an entertaining introduction to The Acatalec Series, while providing some backstory to readers previously introduced to it. While the third person writing doesn’t work quite as well as the first, and there are various typos through the book, it still entertains. Overall, it doesn’t work as well for me as Kingdom of Acatalec, but it remains a fun expansion of its world.
“Ugh, you stupid son of a taxi pilot,” I cursed. Sure, it didn’t seem like that harsh of a curse, but if people only knew how much I hated my taxi service after waiting for twenty minutes to be picked up and watching empty drone after empty drone land and lift off around me, the insult was clear.My Abett, Chapter Six
My Abett was purchased for the purpose of an honest review.
My Abett is available in paperback and Kindle, exclusive to Amazon.
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Interested in purchasing My Abett?
Please find a link below; please note I do not collect any proceeds from the sale.My Abett: A Sci-fi Fantasy Adventure Romance (The Acatalec Series)