Child of Dragons
Serimuse Books / 20 April 2017

Child of Dragons by Regine Haensel Published by Serimuse Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $14.95 ISBN 9-780993-903212 Saskatoon writer Regine Haensel recently released Child of Dragons, Book Two in her fantasy series, The Leather Book Tales. This ambitious publication follows her 2014 novel Queen of Fire, which was nominated for a High Plains Book Award. In the new novel we journey with restless sixteen-year-old Rowan as she searches for two missing children, is romantically pursued by two young men, and benefits from the protection of a foreign soldier with a penchant for making cryptic statements, like “There is no end to a circle … and when you stand at the centre you can see it whole” and “The moon rises in the evening, until it does not.” There are numerous interesting characters in this hard-to-put-down tale, and the author does a splendid job of making each distinct and memorable with her keen gifts for dialogue and physical description. The book’s opening image depicts a small caravan of horse riders, oxen and wagons crossing a “dun-coloured land” near Aquila, City of Eagles, to Vatnborg, a city on a lake. Like all good writers, Haensel quickly moves from scenery to scene,…

Queen of Fire
Serimuse Books / 26 April 2016

Queen of Fire: Book One of the Leather Book Tales by Regine Haensel Published by Serimuse Books Review by Allison Kydd $14.95 ISBN 978-1495909511 The first part of a trilogy, Queen of Fire is a fantasy novel suited to a young adult or even juvenile audience. Not that the tale is simple and straightforward. There are actually dozens of people to sort out and an assortment of special, even magical, powers. I am reminded of my sons playing Dungeons and Dragons. They spent so much time designing their characters and their characters’ special gifts, but little on the game itself. Or perhaps that was the game, to imagine the possibilities. In this instance, special gifts may return in later novels. The main action of this novel begins with fifteen-year-old Rowan, who lives with her mother, a healer and herbalist, in an isolated cabin on the edge of a forest. Rowan is a typical teenager, longing to test boundaries and resenting the one she loves the most, as her mother represents rules and limitations. All too soon, the girl really is on her own and must discover wits, powers and endurance and find guidance among strangers. She also discovers something her…

A Rain of Dragonflies
Serimuse Books / 17 December 2015

A Rain of Dragonflies by Regine Haensel Published by Serimuse Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $14.25 ISBN 978-0-99390-320-5 Before reading a book, I wonder what new landscapes (internal and external) I’ll explore, what characters and situations I’ll be introduced to. With short stories, I’ve often found that those furthest from what I believe to be the writer’s personal experience are the most successful. So it was with A Rain of Dragonflies, by Saskatoon’s Regine Haensel, a collection of fourteen short stories. The two that most captivated were “The Cage,” about a dumpster-diving recluse who cages a canary that’s flown into her two-room rooftop suite, and “Winter,” about a flowerchild-turned-teacher who picks up an elderly female hitchhiker during a “near blizzard,” and has her perceptions challenged. Many (if not most) writers do use “seeds” from their lives as inspiration, even when writing fiction. I don’t know how much of these particular stories was fabricated – Haensel did work as a teacher and lived in remote communities like the ones described in the book – but I do know that they really work. Several characters are unsettled re: the way their lives have turned out, but unlike the rest, Aggie (from…

The Other Place
Serimuse Books / 18 September 2015

The Other Place by Regine Haensel Published by Serimuse Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $12.00 ISBN 978-603-8919-58-3 Regine Haensel’s first collection of stories, The Other Place, is so easy to read, one need only invest a few hours, yet the compelling linked stories and their credible protagonist – Greta, a young German immigrant – remain with the reader in the way one can still feel the warmth after a good friend has been to visit. Firstly, the book is physically enjoyable to read. The double-spaced lines are literally easy to see, and the paper used is noticeably whiter than in most books, so the black print stands out. This is rare and especially welcome. The attractive cover features multi-coloured circles (slightly reminiscent of a Spirograph design) against a lime green background, and offers no clue – not a bad thing! – as to what’s inside: nine stories about introspective Greta’s often difficult assimilation into a small prairie community. In her words, she “Wanted to get good at forgetting sad things.” I believe Saskatoon-based Haensel has drawn deeply from her own personal experience, as a quick internet search reveals that she was born in Germany and moved to Canada in…