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The Drowned Heir
by Jennifer R. Donohue

Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted January 1, 2024

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Another novella by Jennifer R. Donohue. It is unique, a stand-alone, not tied to any other story. The Drowned Heir is set in a world that is reminiscent of a 19th Century sailing/fishing village, but with a twist. There is magic and mystery, and an unusual tradition. If a man dies without an heir, then the closest relative available must submit to being drowned, with the soul of the dead then inhabiting the drowned person. Even though the body of the one drowned remains, everyone has to pretend it is the older, dead person inhabiting it. Not easy when the drowned is a teenage girl, the third child of the dead person's brother. Her older sister has already married and is expecting her first child, while their brother is active in the family shipping business.

Told in first-person by the girl, but now with the added memories of her uncle. He doesn't seem to want to settle into his old life as a ship's captain, instead being obsessed with how he died. Everyone else thinks his ship was overcome by a giant wave, but he insists it was an underwater monster instead. Then his lover shows up, a woman who may or may not have magical ability herself. She informs him he has a son, now adult, a mate on another ship, and that ship is quickly approaching the place where the uncle was killed. The lover convinces the girl she knows how to separate the spirits, to give her life back to her. Will that mean the uncle's spirit would then reside within his son? They have to find him first though.

A very poignant, lyrical narrative, full of the longings and expectations of a girl on the cusp of womanhood, but now also burdened with the thoughts of a man bent on revenge. She seems to have retained most of her memories and faculties, but allows him to direct at least part of their path in order to be rid of him. Even if she is able to shed his spirit, if she can hide that fact she may remain a ship's captain on her own. Especially since she just may have fallen in love with her second mate. I continue to be impressed with Donohue's talent. Other than the three Run With The Hunted novellas, each story I have read has been in a different style and genre, and that includes another I'm reviewing today. I am now a staunch fan, and recommend everyone check out her books. I have already pre-ordered another for March, the first novel in a trilogy, plus I have three more Hunted novellas to read, so I will be writing about her again soon.


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Jennifer R. Donohue

August 31, 2022

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