Author: Amy Clare Fontaine
Word Count: 15,858
Page Count: 90
Size: 4" x 6"
Cover Artist: Julian Norwood
Publication Date: May 2019
This title was original published in-part in "Exploring New Places".
Straggletail is the lowest-ranking female hyena in the Eastern Plain Clan, the punching bag. Glossycoat is the clan’s princess, destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become the matriarch.
When the two hyenas form an unexpected alliance, they set off on a perilous journey in search of the place where the sun goes at night. They meet strange creatures, brave the forces of nature, and grapple with their own worst fears.
Will they find the sun, or will they find something more?
This is the physical version of this title. For the digital version, click here
This title is the third of our "Pocket Shots", which are 4" x 6" novelettes under 15k words—small enough to possibly fit in the pocket of your pants!
3 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews
No Laughing Matter
By Dave Kloke
With the publication of Beyond Acacia Ridge, author Amy Clare Fontaine uses her six months of research experience on hyenas to give them even more human characteristics than the “laughing“ moniker associated with the species. This fictional book truly leans heavily on deep but mixed anthropomorphic relationships of their animal society.
Straggletail and Glossycoat come from opposite sides of their tracks (pun intended) but the two hyenas put aside their differences to go on an adventure to find where the sun goes at the end of the day. Along the way, the two cross paths with a “banana-brain“ monkey and potentially frightening voices that could impair their completion of their quest.
Added to their harrowing travels is a confrontation with family bonds. Resolution comes quickly for Straggletail and Glossycoat enhancing both love for family and friends despite personality/social differences.
Kudos to Fontaine for taking the hyena clans with their disreputable carnivore behavior and give them admirable traits that protect their progeny from extinction. With this outstanding work she is an author worth following.
For starters, I absolutely LOVED reading such a tiny book. There’s the cute factor, of course, plus it was easier on my hands/arms (I like to read while lying in bed). As for the story, it was adorable! I enjoyed learning about hyena behavior and society, and in fact the author has spent time studying wild hyenas. It was interesting to see how she blended hyena traits with human intelligence. There were a couple of awkward moments where a hyena fact was written in, even though it didn’t quite fit into the prose, but other than that, my only criticism is that the story seemed a bit formulaic, the ending too good to be true. That’s not necessarily a problem, though; for me, personally, it felt like reading a fairy tale or a Disney movie, and I think it would be great in particular for older kids (the subject matter is totally kid-friendly, but of a higher reading level). I liked this book a lot, and I know my younger self would have appreciated this sweet romance between two hyenas experiencing love with another girl for the first time.
Beyond Acacia Ridge was a wholesome adventure that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I feel like I learned a good deal about hyena behavior from Amy’s descriptions and her knowledge and expertise definitely shines through. Straggletail is a protagonist that echoes feelings of inadequacy and seeing her grow during the arcs of the story was lovely. My biggest complaint is that the ending conflict didn’t feel quite natural with the pacing of the story up to that point. Would recommend to people who love hyenas or some soft lesbian romance!