Reader Reviews on Goodreads
In the Media:
- Publishers Weekly loved The Forgotten Tale.
- The YA Literature Bookshelf reviews The Untold Tale (longer review here) and Ghosts
- Anna Tan wishes she could give the book 10/5 stars, March 22nd, 2016
- Pink Play Mags calls it “nothing short of fun, unexpected, and a little bit queer”, March 9th, 2016
- Doc Perschon calls it “The best book of 2015“, January 31 2016
- 5 Stars from the San Francisco Book Review, December 18th, 2015
- From the Fergus-Elora News Express, December 18th, 2015
- Grace Books of Love, December 14th, 2015
- Review on Milky Way Books, December 11th, 2015
- I talk about my writing process for this book on my agency’s blog, December 10th, 2015
- Interview with Authoress on MSFV, December 8th 2015
- Northern Tomorrows reviews The Untold Tale, December 8th 2015
- Cait Spivey and I chat about Fantasy, December 7, 2015
- SFF World interview about The Untold Tale, December 4th, 2015
- iO9 names The Untold Tale one of the “Can’t Afford To Miss” books in December, December 3rd, 2015
- Review of The Untold Tale from Only The Books For Me , November 30, 2015
- Bending the Bookshelf reviews The Untold Tale @ Beauty in Ruins, November 30 2015
- Sit and Be Still reviews The Untold Tale, November 28, 2015
- Two Book Bloggers review The Untold Tale, November 28, 2015
- The Steampunk Scholar Recommends The Untold Tale, November 25, 2015
- The Saturday Morning Reading List on The Untold Tale, November 28 2015
- Fergus Elora News Express Interview, Aug 19 2015 (Please download and turn PDF to read)
- READ A VERY SPOILERY REVIEW by Liana K, Ed the Sock
“INSANELYAMAZING! The Untold Tale tears apart the tropes of heroic fantasy and gives back what we need: true heroes, true love, and the astonishing realization that yes, real people are magical.”
—Julie Czerneda, Author of A Turn of Light, A Play of Shadow and 25 other books; Prix Aurora award winner
“I would highly recommend JM Frey’s The Untold Tale. It’s easily the strongest I’ve read in the last year. Frey’s novel takes a familiar trope – the idea that every novel written creates an actual world that the reader can enter, and it’s corollary, that we might be living in such a world ourselves – and gives us an entirely new take on it. Usually, this type of story is told from the point of view of the real world character, who finds herself a “stranger in a strange land” in the book she’s reading. In The Untold Tale, however, we have the entirely fresh perspective of the story being told by one of the fictional characters. This character discovers not only that the world he inhabits isn’t entirely the world he imagined it to be, but that he himself is not the person he always assumed he was. The real-world character, on the other hand, discovers that even a deep understanding of a fictional world isn’t as much practical use as she’d thought it would be.
The fictional world = real world trope isn’t the only one Frey twists, however. She also plays with the ideas of the hero and heroic adventure, feminism, gender roles, and the role of the narrative itself, in innovative – and occasionally cheeky – ways.
This novel has the potential to appeal to a great many readers, across genres. Think Robert J. Weirsema’s Bedtime Story.
—Violette Malan, PhD, Dhulyn Parno Series
“I started reading Untold Tale, and was captivated. This superb novel grabbed me from the opening sentence, and never let go. The very best fantasy stories show us fresh new settings in which deeds and events matter—but first and foremost, they give us colorful, captivating characters we fall in love with, or love to hate, or are fascinated by.
Untold Tale does all of this, and more. We see someone from a world we know plunged into a world that is strange to us, through the eyes of that unfamiliar world. And we care what happens to her, and to everyone we meet in Untold Tale’s pages.
And the whole tale is several clever twists on the oh-so-familiar fantasies we’ve read before.
I want more. Books more”.
—Ed Greenwood, Forgotten Realms
“John Scalzi did Redshirts. He poked fun at a beloved symbol of geekdom, and we loved it. Frey has done the same for the sacred fantasy tropes and it’s fantastic. An empowered woman of color, thrown into the chauvinistic world of the epic fantasy today’s geeks were weaned on, serves as the perfect narrator for a critical and wonderful look at fantasy in the modern world.”
— Leah Petersen, author of Fighting Gravity and Cascade Effect
“Some time ago I was fortunate enough to have a copy of Untold Tale, author J.M. Frey’s sophomore novel, pass across my desk. As a fan of her earlier work, I entered her story anticipating a compelling narrative existing in symbiosis with clever scrutiny of gender and sexuality as predominant themes, and of course my expectations were met and exceeded on those counts. Of considerably more interest to me, however, was the introduction of a first-person narrator I found myself relating to – first uncomfortably, but with increasing familiarity and fondness as the story progressed.
The world of Untold Tale is intentionally designed (for reasons best labeled “spoilers”) to ape what has come to be known as the “standard fantasy setting” (in the J.R.R. sense of the term), but nary a surly beard or pointy ear is to be seen. Instead, the story centers around the aforementioned narrator, one Forsyth Turn – introverted lordling by day and spymaster general for the local royalty by night. Forsyth’s character speaks to Frey’s understanding of her audience: self-identified male “nerds” will recognize and (as I did) relate to the frustration of living in the shadow of his dragon-slaying elder brother, unable to divulge his own impressive exploits since they’re all earmarked “state secrets”. Forsythe’s crippling self-esteem issues are never played for laughs – instead, Frey builds an extremely sensitive portrayal of a man whose concern for his fellow citizens is omnipresent, but curiously never overstated.
The introduction of Lucy ‘Pip’ Piper, a transplant from our own reality brought to the world of Untold Tale for nefarious ends, provides – yes, a love interest, but more importantly a strong and present foil for the gentle narrator. The interplay between these two characters – and Forsyth’s fierce internal monologue that forms the backbone of the story – highlights Frey’s strongest authorial traits: a comprehensive understanding of the deepest insecurities that motivate her characters to act – or not act – based on a complex morality that readers of my stripe will find deeply familiar.
I hesitate to speak further on Untold Tale because the best elements of the plot deserve to be discovered rather than spoiled, but suffice to say that once again, J.M. Frey has taken an established scenario and turned it on its ear by calling into question the nature of the narrative roles and systemic function of her ‘standard fantasy setting’. In so doing, she addresses questions that might seem more at home in a gender studies lecture than a work of fantasy fiction, but the deftness and clarity with which she asks the questions through the lens of her prose strips them of pretention and affords the discerning reader the opportunity to ponder – or not – the possible answers she gently suggests.”
—Alex James, Nerds With Guitars
“J.M. Frey’s Untold Tale is a rare balancing act: a gripping adventure reflecting on both the joys and frustrations of classic fantasy in modern times. Born of an obvious love for the genre and tempered by Frey’s wry sense of humor, Untold Tale inverts high fantasy tropes to weave a tale that’s just as grounded in the charm of its characters as it is in the controversies of speculative fiction today. It’s sincere yet subversive; as sexy as it is sexually progressive.
Tapping the versatility of third wave feminism, Untold Tale is often bold one moment, then breathtakingly subtle in the next. Frey shuns petty didacticism for something far more entertaining, and her characters often say more in silence than they do in speech. A masterwork of perspective, it holds no illusions about the complexity of its ambitions. Frey is fearless in the way she trusts her readers.
Untold Tale should be an impossible achievement. But each of Frey’s characters is far more than they first appear, and that depth makes for a compelling page-turner. Perhaps more accessible than it has any right to be, Untold Tale poses more questions than answers, and succeeds by leaving the rest to us.”
—Jason Grabher-Meyer, Media Manager of TCGPlayer.com
“Untold Tale is a fantastic adventure into the unknown. J.M. Frey challenges her readers and her characters to see more and to be more than just historic tropes and side-line participants.
Based in the fantastical world of fantasy, Untold Tale is the unlikely adventure of the second son, the non-hero, the one no one expects much of: Forsyth Turn. Except Forsyth is loved by his people, has secrets of his own, and an opinion that needs to heard.
Forsyth struggles with many of the same issues as modern everyday humans: self-worth, how to court a strong independent person who isn’t afraid to speak their mind, and a worldview that is literally changing before him.
In the heroic shadow of his brother, Forsyth finds the adventure he never thought he wanted, the love he never believe he’d find, and the confidence to do what is right, and takes a leap he never expected to take.
A fantastic manipulation of the senses. J.M. pulls out all the guts and glory and ask the question, does it really have to be this way?”
— Brienne E. Wright