Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★
Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell is a fifty page novella that originally appeared as part of the Dangerous Women anthology but has now been released separately.
To most travelers, Silence Montane appears nothing more than a simple innkeeper, but she keeps ownership of her inn and maintains her family’s independence by doing bounty hunting on the side. When debts come calling, Silence must go after a notorious killer and his gang to keep everything she holds dear.
As always, Brandon Sanderson has intriguing world building. Silence and the others live in the forests of the dead. They must follow simple rules to avoid rousing the spirits’ wrath: don’t run after nightfall, don’t kindle a flame, and most importantly, don’t shed another’s blood. We see only a glimpse of the world in Shadows for Silence, but I would be happy to return to it.
I think the best thing about this short is the protagonist. Silence was very much drawn from the mold of the independent, frontier woman. She’s single mother focused on building a life for herself and her daughter. She’s trying to give her daughter the childhood that she didn’t have, but she worries that as a result her daughter won’t have the survival skills she needs.
While Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell isn’t my favorite Brandon Sanderson novella (try The Emperor’s Soul), it is a solid story with a well drawn female protagonist.