by Katriena Knights, futuristic (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-037-0

Earthchild is one of those The Jungle Book type of stories where our heroine is raised as a Pocahontas of sorts among a primitive humanoid tribe in a distant planet. One day, human settlers (see Starchild) arrive on the planet Denahault. Our heroine Noisy Girl finally realizes that she is one of those settlers that her folks the People by the Shores of the West Sea call the Loud-Talking People. Finally, with the blessings of her adopted parents, she is finally going to be with her people for the first time. In Commander Jeff Anderson, she may find her lifemate and have her own family. Ah, these beautiful dreams.

As our heroine learns of the ways of her people from Jeff, she wonders how they will ever be together since he's bound to move on to the next planet (and presumably, the next Pocahontas) soon. Can Noisy Girl show Jeff how the wolf cry to the blue corn moon? Or how to sing with the voices of the mountains? And paint with all the colors of the wind? Why is the bobcat grinning anyway?

On the bright side, Noisy Girl comes off like an adult rather than a creepy girl-child in a buxom body so Earthchild therefore doesn't come off like an ode to girly girls gone wild. The characters are rather on the bland side, I find, because they seem to be one-dimensional archetypes rather than three-dimensional folks. But they are still pleasant and likable enough to carry the story.

The story is fairly predictable as a typical tale of a fish out of water learning the ways of her people and getting the hot guy. However, Ms Knights has put together her story very nicely indeed. The pacing is fine this time around and she succeeds very well in placing me in Noisy Girl's shoes and following the development of her story through her eyes. The romance between her and dear Jeff is sweet enough to move his world, literally, to be with Noisy Girl.

I was bored completely by Starchild so imagine my surprise when I find myself actually shedding a tear at the final scene. Somewhat corny and cheesy at places, Earthchild manages nonetheless to be unexpectedly tender and romantic in ways that I never expected. Now that's how I like my authors to make me eat my previous words about them.

Rating: 83

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