The Deed Reread – Umpteenth First Impression

20130725-211203.jpgI am up to Chapter Seven of my The Deed of Paksenarrion reread. I was unable to read as quickly as I hoped, mostly due to a typically busy weekend. The next few weeks should be calmer.

After reading these seven chapters, I was suffering some serious eyestrain. The omnibus edition that I had (my second, purchased and read a few years ago) squeezes every square millimeter it can out of each page, so the font is maybe 9 point. Guys, these eyes ain’t young anymore. Presbyopia is probably the worst thing about middle age. Wrinkles? Aches and pains? No problem. Old eyes that don’t focus on small fonts anymore? Suckage. When I first read this book, way back in the misty past when the omnibus first became available, I didn’t even notice the font size. Not anymore.

Therefore, I checked out Amazon to see if Deed was available for Kindle. Lots of older books aren’t. Happily, it was–the entire omnibus was 8.99. I had 22 dollars left on a gift card so it was a no-brainer.

This is my third copy of this book.

So anyway, if you’ve read the book, I have a few questions and observations.

What is your opinion of Moon’s writing strengths with this, her first novel?

I think her strength was definitely point of view. In the first pages of the first chapter, we are behind the eyes of Paks’s father, Dorthan. Then, when Paks takes up a sword to defy him, we get a glimpse of her stubborn spirit. In the next instant, she runs out the door and from that moment, we are with her. Later, when Paks first puts on her recruit tunic, she is acutely aware of her bare legs in front of the entire platoon. And even later, when she must strip in front of the entire company, you can feel her humiliation.

What about her weaknesses?

As for her weaknesses, for me, it was scene transitions. I had trouble with this throughout the series, especially when she is switching from Paks’s point of view, which does not happen very often. The beginning of Chapter 3, when Paks goes from being a top recruit to being locked up in the dungeon, is bewildering. It is probably meant to be that way, but I ended up paging back through the book to see if I missed anything. This is a pattern that kept up throughout the entire series.

What is your opinion of the secondary characters?

Secondary characters are very much in second place in this series. The book is about Paks, and even though she makes friends readily, none of them feel fully fleshed out. Vic is my favorite, the son of minstrels, yet he cannot sing. However, he is never more than a tertiary character. The true secondary characters — Stammel, Saben, Barra and later, Canna and the Duke — get more depth, but still, I wished I could have known these characters better–especially the one who later becomes a villain.

And what did you think of Paks?

To be honest, the first time I read this story, I struggled through the first book, mostly because of the sheer quantity of the battles. But it was my reader connection to Paks that kept me going. In the second book, all struggles disappeared because it then truly becomes The Adventures of Paks. Nowadays, when I reread these books, I don’t have the same trouble that I had the first time around, mostly because I know what is coming, and because it is just so fun to relive the story again.

Now hopefully there are a few of you out there who are ready to discuss this …

Monday Review – The Gate to Kandrith

GateToKandrith

Gate to Kandrith
by Nicole Luiken
Carina Press – 5.99

Epic Fantasy

I thought this novel was great.

It starts with a bang as Sara is prepared to assassinate the priest of the God of War if he –as she expects–withholds the blessing that her father needs as the new Primus of the Republic of Temboria. Withholding his blessing would be a death sentence, and Sara would do anything to protect her small family.

During a narrow escape from a undesirable suitor who drugged her with an aphrodisiac, Sara meets Lance, who she at first mistakes for a slave. She could not have been more wrong. Since she is under the effect of the aphrodisiac, she behaves somewhat (cough) inappropriately, but Lance is the gentleman, and he saves the day and disappears.

How can she help falling in love with him?

Turns out, he’s a Child of Peace. And the next day, her father asks her to become a Child of Peace herself as the Ambassador to Slaveland, aka Kandrith. She also has a secret mission–to learn the secret of Slave Magic, which her father is very afraid of. What follows is an adventurous journey with Lance, at the end of which she learns just what it means to be a Child of Peace, at which time she has to grow up in a hurry.

Nothing goes as you would expect. People you think are loyal turn out to not be so, and people you expect to betray Sara turn out to be steadfast. People you think are pitiless monsters turn out to be good guys, and good guys turn out to be pitiless monsters.

I was worried by the early aphrodisiac scene that this novel would be way more erotic than I expected or desired, but it surprised me. There are sex several scenes, but only after a very long romance building, and they certainly were not excessive. I will call out one rather crude groping; you are warned.

The amazing thing about this book is it is 134,000 words, and yet I read it in just a few days. The character development is amazing, and even a secondary character gets to have a major turnaround. There are surprises in this novel that will keep you guessing until the  very last scenes.

And dang–I have not even said anything about the magic system. Suffice it to say that you have never seen anything like this before. It is the most poignant magic system I have ever read. And what about that fabulous escape! It was the best one I’ve read in a great while.

If you like epic fantasy, you will probably like this novel despite the naughty scenes. They are brief. If you like fantasy romance, this is something you will like. I highly recommend it. Five stars!

Two Novella Reviews

I often buy other Carina Press books just to see what else they are buying. Here are two that I’ve read in the last month. I read a third one as well that I liked even better than these, a long epic fantasy that I’ll post about next time.

YesterdaysHeroesYesterday’s Heroes
by Heather Long
Genre: Superhero

Ebook

This episodic novella is the start of a new series from Heather Long. I enjoyed it but whew! I was not prepared by the cover or blurb for how very hawt it is. I should have been: when they say passionate, they mean it.

Michael is the leader of a super team sent back in time to stop an event that makes the world the nightmare it has turned into. Rory is a super-something who specializes in calculating probabilities–sounds lame but she can manipulate those probabilities as well, resulting in super fighting abilities. The chemistry between Michael and Rory is so intense that his team suspects emotional manipulation–except Rory is affected as well.

This is a time travel story that has fun with the usual time travel paradoxes. I enjoyed it and will buy the next book in the series to see what the author is going to do with it. The move toward episodic stories intrigues me, so I’ll stay with this one for another book or two.

Recommended if you enjoy science fiction romance or fantasy romance.

Heart of the Dragon's RealmHeart of the Dragon’s Realmby Karalynn Lee
Genre: Fantasy

Ebook

Heart of the Dragon’s Realm is a poignant tale of a young woman named Kimri who is traded into marriage by her brother, the king of their land. When she thinks to never forgive him, yet looks back to wave one last time, I knew I would like this character.

On the way to the land of her husband-to-be, her party is attacked by soldiers from an enemy kingdom. However, Kimri manages to take their leader hostage, and he turns out to be Prince Herrol, the younger and  disposable son of the enemy king.

You might think this develops into a love triangle, but once you meet the king of the Dragon Realm, King Tathan, you know Herrol is no threat to him. Tathan tells Kimri that he will court her for a year, and if she does not want to marry him at the end of that time, she is free to return to her kingdom with no penalty to her brother.

This is a long novella/short novel. It has a lot of twists, and characters do a lot of things you don’t expect, and they will probably do some things you won’t approve of, but never in an amoral way (except one villain). The writing is just beautiful, and the romance between Kimri and Tathan slow and mostly sweet. Tathan’s kingdom is idyllic and almost crime free–and you find out why in the end. It is a standalone story, and I enjoyed it very much.

~*~

One final word: the awesome covers for both of these stories did a great job selling these books for me.

Monday Review – Nightingale by Jennifer Estep

Nightingale
Nightingale
by Jennifer Estep
Ebook
Superhero Romance

Wow, I’ve been waiting for years to read this book. When I saw that Ms. Estep was re-releasing her other Bigtime books, I wondered if she would release Nightingale, which had been planned but never released.

Sure enough, here it is!

Nightingale was a fun return to the land of Bigtime, New York. Bigtime is Estep’s  version of New York City with a large cast of superheroes, ubervillians, and regular folk.

Abby Appleby is an event planner in Bigtime. Her events are the biggest, the best and the most lavish. She can meet any insane deadline, and can make real the most outlandish concept.

Except when ubervillians crash her parties. Which seemed to happen a lot in previous books.

By the time this book comes around, Abby has a bit of a complex, striving for the perfect event each time. After just pulling off an event that simultaneously announced an engagement and launched a new line of cosmetics, Abby is on the way home when she stumbles on a superhero battle that amazingly seemed to miss her event this time. She quickly discerns that the lone superhero is Talon, a gadget master who is fending off the Bandit and his band of thugs.

Bandit shoots Talon and sprays him with his blinding gas. Abby, a bit of a gadget master herself, whips out her cellphone and scares the bad guys off by playing her police siren ringtone. After they leave, Talon remains conscious long enough to refuse to be hospitalized, and then he passes out. Abby heaves the superhero home via an improvised sled made of a plastic bag and gumption, and nurses him back to health.

It’s the perfect scenario to fall in love.

The complications in this romance are mostly internal. Abby, determined to be as anonymous as Talon (he has a helm that shocks whoever tries to take it off), calls herself Wren, which reflects her own internal image of herself. He turns that around by calling her Nightingale, because of her beautiful singing voice and his own internal image of her that he has built up in his mind. Since she knows she is no beauty, this sobriquet does not entirely please her.

As they each try to get over their hang-ups, they naturally have to contend with the villains behind the Bandit attack. Which makes a perfect circle to the original makup-launch event from the start of the book. This time, Estep has improved her story by making her villains more difficult to guess. Everyone has alliterative names now, which means anyone can be a superhero or an ubervillain. I even suspected poor Piper Perez for a while, a beleaguered secretary who I think  could be the subject of an upcoming book. But in the end, the ubervillain made perfect sense, which is just as it should be.

If you enjoyed the previous books in this series, Nightingale should be a great return to the world of Bigtime. If you have not read Karma Girl, Hot Mama or Jynx, it is not necessary to read them before reading this one, but you may want to read them afterward just for the sheer fun of it.

DNF Review – The Furies of Calderon

Furies of Calderon
Jim Butcher
ACE Fantasy

Epic Fantasy

This book was lent to me by my sister Alice, who touted it as one of her favorite fantasy series ever, which she re-reads every once in a while. Kind of like me with Dragonlance. If you’ve already read Furies, you probably know what the rest of this review will be like.

I didn’t read the blurb before I accepted her much-treasured copies of the entire series, and if I had I would have saved her book the wear and tear. Here goes:

For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies – elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal. But now, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, grows old and lacks an heir. Ambitious High Lords plot and maneuver to place their Houses in positions of power, and a war of succession looms on the horizon.” “Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy – the Marat – return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine.” Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave named Amara. But she is actually a spy for Gaius Sextus, sent to the Valley to gather intelligence on traitors to the Crown, who may be in league with the barbaric Marat horde. And when the Valley erupts in chaos – when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies – Amara will find Tavi’s courage and resourcefulness to be a power greater than any fury – one that could turn the tides of war.

I cannot believe an author as prominent as Jim Butcher would be burdened with such a terrible blurb. Adjectives and adverbs and cliches abound, and we are supposed to have sympathy for a boy who can’t use furies to fly or light his lamps. Aww, poor baby. And the metaphors? Wars loom. Caught in a storm. Erupts into chaos. Plus, it is a coming of age novel. Ugh! I set the book aside for a week.

On the strength of Alice’s recommendation alone, I finally started reading it.

Tavi is a fifteen year old boy who has lost his sheep. And since he does not have furies, his mighty uncle Bernard decides he must accompany him in order to protect him. We are at first quite impatient with the uncle, but his instincts turned out to be dead-on. And when Tavi ends up saving his butt, it’s a pretty good start to the novel.

The next character is introduced, Amara. In short order, she finds herself betrayed and on the run. The betrayer, Fidelias, unfortunately gets his own point of view. I don’t mind villain point of view, but they have to be compelling. I did not find Fidelias or his companions anything other than contemptible.

Then Tavi and Amara get thrown together and the furyless Tavi saves her butt as well. But by this point, I have been noticing problems. The point-of-views are shallow, with very little character immersion. Therefore, I only felt the most tepid engagement with the characters. They had my sympathy for their predicaments, but I didn’t particularly like them. Tavi was whiny, Amara was a bland beauty.

A third POV character, Isana, had some potential. She is plain, thirtysomething, never married, and her fury powers make her an empath. However, I did not get enough of her, and I got too much of the other two. If the book was mainly about her, this would be a very different review.

The plot went on and on, and I got over halfway through the novel. Additional points of view were added. Stuff happened. Bad guys kept doing bad things. Good guys kept trying to keep ahead of the situation.

Then, I hit Chapter 28, where a minor villain makes Isana watch another woman get gang raped while he gives Isana his impressions of the proceedings. It is clear that she was next, but I didn’t read on to find out if she got away. The rape was a book killer for me. I set it aside without caring about Isana’s predicament, the upcoming savage/traitor invasion, or anything else.

I am sorry, Alice. Maybe we can read Dragonlance together.

Review – Mind Games by Carolyn Crane

Mind Games
by Carolyn Crane
Disillusionists, volume 1

Random House – MM Paperback

Blurb:

JUSTINE KNOWS SHE’S GOING TO DIE. ANY SECOND NOW.

Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem.

Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness—only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.

I wanted to read this when it came out, but I was drowning in a sea of review copies, and books that weren’t sent to me, sadly, often were neglected. But I never forgot it, and when I got my Kindle last month, this was the very first book I purchased.

It did not disappoint. I loved it. It was one of those novels that you just want to keep reading on and on, yet you know it has to end sometime. I honestly did not know what would happen next.

It begins with Justine and her boyfriend, Cubby, going out to dinner at a restaurant called Mongolian Delites. Justine sees a man who swindled her father out of some money, and she feels compelled to confront him. When she does so, the guy doesn’t know who she is, and the handsome restauranteur intervenes, apparently taking the man’s side while looking at Justine like she is a walking miracle. When Justine sneaks up to the bar to pay the bill for her boyfriend, the con man approaches her and laughs about his con on her father. She is about to indignantly confront him again when the restauranteur again intervenes, schmoozes the con man, but this time, the restauranteur tells Justine that he knows what the con man is about.

The next day, the restauranteur reveals that he heads up a crime-fighting team, and that the con man is their current target for “disillusionment”.

Justine is the last person anyone would expect to become a crime fighter, or even a minor miracle. She is obsessed by vein star syndrome, a kind of (fictional) brain aneurism that killed her mother, and she is convinced that she is a walking time bomb. Her boyfriend is starting to despise her, and she despises herself for her weaknesses. Packard offers her a unique way to cope, but unfortunately, it has a price.

In the meantime, she’s got this major fangirl crush on the dashing chief of police.

It’s fun. It’s gripping. And I could not put it down. I’ll be getting the next two book in the series for some cruise reading next month.

Review: TRANCE by Kelly Meding

Trance
by Kelly Meding
Pocket Books
Mass Market Paperback
Urban Fantasy/Superhero

One of the last my last review copies to arrive in the mail was Kelly Meding’s Trance. I was glad to see it because I always thought her Three Days to Dead looks good but I never got a chance to read it. (Part of the reason I stopped accepting review copies was because it seemed that other people were always making reading decisions for me.)

So when Trance arrived, I cracked it open right away and finished it in just a few  days.

Fifteen years, Teresa was a trainee in the Ranger Corps, a group of superhero crime fighters. But during a war with superhero criminals, all their powers mysteriously vanished. The story opens when Trance’s power returns, more potent than ever before, and this time, it’s dangerous.

Now she’s on a mission to find her old teammates, figure out who took their powers, and why they now have them back.

And why her powers are so different.

I liked this novel a lot and I would read the next book in the series. Not only must Trance track down her teammates, but she also picks up a new person who never knew they had powers to begin with. The novel is typical of the superhero genre, with lots of angst, larger-than-life situations and unexpected campy humor. I do have a few nits–one is that the heroes were able to figure out very little by the end, thus necessitating a lengthy villain confession. Another is in an effort to make the villain a surprise, some of the earlier scenarios are a bit implausible. Even within a superhero novel.

(A complaint that has nothing to do with the author: the ebook is priced the same as the physical book. This makes me cranky. In such situations I buy the physical book even though I’d rather get the ebook.)

But I definitely want to read the next book, which comes out this summer.

Review: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

Touch of Frost
by Jennifer Estep
Kensington Teen
YA – Fantasy

 

Wow–I’ve read every book Jennifer Estep has ever published. Well, I’m a little behind on the Elemental Assassin series, but I’m still reading them–I tend not to read books in series back t0 back. I admire how prolific she is. Things can only get better as her career progresses.

As evidenced by Touch of Frost. This is my favorite novel by her. Gone is the campiness from the Bigtime books. Gone is the grittiness from the Elemental Assassin. (Well, mostly). What isn’t gone is the voice, which has remained distinctive throughout all her novels.

Touch of Frost is about Gwen Frost, a girl of Gypsy lineage who is a new student at the Mythos Academy, a school for descendents of ancient world heroes like Vikings, Spartans, Sumerians, Samuari, Amazons–you name it. As a Gypsy, she doesn’t really fit in, or at least she doesn’t think she does.

It opens with this scene where we get to learn just what Gwen’s special gift is. She uses her gift in a novel way, charging rather steep fees to locate lost things. It leads her to popular mean girl Daphne Cruz, an unexpected friendship, and a supernatural murder mystery.

I’m a sucker for boarding school novels. Always have been. However, it does always seems rather heartless of the parents to shlep their kids off to boarding school, and you can’t imagine that they have good relationships with their parents. (Remember in The Sound of Music when the Baroness said, “Darling, haven’t you ever heard of a delightful little thing called boarding school?” Deliciously evil!) The cool thing about this novel is the school just happens to be located in Gwen’s home town. So, most afternoons, she sneaks off campus to visit her grandmother, her only living relative. What a great way to get around the limitations of the boarding school trope!

If I had encountered this novel when I was a teenager, I would have fallen in love with it. As an adult, I was enthralled enough to read this rather thick novel in a matter of days. The worldbuilding is fantastic. The character building is superb. Daphne, for instance, turns out to have a hidden vice–she is a closet computer geek. The leading guy–a Spartan bad boy named Logan Quinn–is rumored to sign the mattress of every girl he sleeps with. However, by the end of the book, we still aren’t sure if that rumor is true. I’m guessing (and hoping!) not.

As you might have guessed, this is a novel for older teens. The age range of the school is from sixteen to twenty-one, and it seems more like a college campus than a high school–with minimal supervision and lots of hanky-panky going on, strictly off the page. However, for the purposes of the story, the older students are hardly visible.

And as usual, Ms. Estep includes Easter Eggs of her earlier stories–both Bigtime and Elemental Assassin. Keep a lookout for them!

Obviously, I enjoyed this novel a great deal. I look forward to seeing where Ms. Estep takes this story in the next book in the series, Kiss of Frost.

Fantasy Review – Faerie Blood by Angela Korra'ti

I bought Faerie Blood by Angela Korra’ti a while back and read the opening chapters, but for some reason, it wasn’t what I was in the mood for at the time. I read a few other books, and then came back to this one. I remembered the story so far (always a good sign!) turned to the last read page in my Nook and started reading.

And I wondered why the heck I stopped.

Several things hooked me about this novel, and it mostly had to do with the cover. I liked the fact that a black girl was the protagonist, and that she also played the violin, and instrument of which I am familiar. And then there’s the tiny pixy.

So I bought it.

Faerie Blood begins when Kendis Thompson is attacked by a troll along a bike trail in Seattle, Washington. A young man comes running to her rescue, but the troll puts up quite a fight, the young man ends up bleeding all over the trail, and Kendis finally stabs the thing with her little pocket knife and …

… to her surprise, the troll turns to stone.

This is only the start. Kendis takes the guy home, he bleeds all over her, and then strange things start to happen. Namely, Kendis’s brown eyes turn golden. Check out the cover to see what I mean.

Kendis is freaked.

And her life turns upside-down.

The young man–who is named Christopher–turns out to be of Warder blood, and by allowing his blood to touch the ground, he has begun to bind himself to the grounds of Seattle. Except it already has a Warder. And Kendis’s natural Faerie blood is asserting itself. And her relatives from Faerie show up.

This book was laugh-out-loud fun along with almost nonstop action. The only thing I could have wished for was more of a sense of the atmosphere in Seattle. Since Christopher is bound to the land, a lot of places are named, but I’m not familiar with Seattle. The book would have benefited from a sort of establishing shot of Seattle to give that sense of atmosphere, describing the spots that would eventually be alluded to. Without that, it was just a list of names, and I didn’t get a sense of the city’s character.

But that’s a very small critique. Both Kendis and Christopher were very likable, even though they both had to make some adjustments in their thinking before the end of the book. I particularly liked Christopher and his struggles. Both had to accept themselves for what they were, and to embrace their destinies. This novel has an urban-fantasyesque voice that keeps the humor and ditches the snark.

I had a great time reading this book, and the pages just flew by. Faerie Blood stands alone, but could easily spawn a sequel. I look forward to more from Angela Korra’ti.

 

Debut Review: Prospero Lost

Prospero-Lost
Prospero Lost

by L. Jagi Lamplighter
Tor Books

Available in hardcover, MM Paperback and ebook form

A while back, I mentioned that I was hungry for a meaty epic fantasy. I got what I asked for in a novel with an usual premise: it is set in a modern-day earth based on the writings of Dante, Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, Dante’s Inferno, Gnostic writings, various legends and fairy tales–and even children’s stories. I received this book in August, courtesy of Tor. They actually sent me the second book in the series, Prospero in Hell, but I had not read the first. So I wrote to the publicist who sent it to me and requested the first book in ePub format. therefore, I read Prospero Lost on my Nook.

Miranda is the Miranda of The Tempest. I meant to reread The Tempest before writing this review, but I’ve been swamped and so I decided to go ahead and write it. As the author mentions in an interview or FAQ that I read somewhere, she gives a recap of the whole play in the early chapters, anyway.

The novel begins with a premise that is absolutely fascinating. Miranda finds this secret message left by her father, which could only be read by the light of a phoenix lamp. Woah, I said to myself. A phoenix lamp? I’m hooked! Her father instructs her to locate her brothers and sisters–six, in all, but only five are still alive–and warn them that “the three shadowed ones” are after their magical staffs.

So yes, I was completely intrigued. But then, as I mentioned above, the book dives into lots of backstory. One of Miranda’s airy spirit servants is named Mab, and he’s in the guise of a 1940-s dime novel detective. Armed with his notebook and stubby pencil, he begins to question her. Not only are we given the story of The Tempest, but I discover that Miranda is the handmaiden of a divine being called Eurynome, whose symbol is a unicorn, and as such Miranda has been a virgin for her entire life–some 500 years.

It took me over a month to read the opening chapters. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I needed Miranda to save a cat or something, because she seemed cold and unlikable. I read Susanna Ive’s Rakes and Radishes and Julie Moffett’s No One Lives Twice, and finally I picked this up again.

Miranda decides to go after her brother Mephistopheles, first. Last she knew, he was in Chicago. After a few false leads, a prayer to Eurynome leads her to her brother. And at this point, she at last has her save the cat moment as she rescues him out of the gutter. Mephistopheles is now considered to be “mad”, but he also claims to know where all the rest of the brothers and sisters are.  Next they go after Theo, and when I met Theo, I finally became emotionally invested in the story, stopped setting it aside, and started really liking it. If only I could have had more of him!

The rest of the story consists of Miranda making contact with several of her siblings and trying to convince them to help. She’s also telling backstory to Mab, who like a good detective, is trying to come up with a motive that will lead him to the perps. There are a lot of twists and turns. If you read this story, pay attention to the episodes of backstory, which are usually conversations between Mab, Mephisto and Miranda. They are actually rather intriguing little side stories, and it seems like every detail is vital. Father Christmas makes an unexpected appearance in the story, and even he turns out to be quite important. There are elves, too–one of whom Mephisto was trying to get to marry Miranda. However, not only is Miranda sworn to remain a virgin, but she’s still hung up on the guy she met in The Tempest–Ferdinand–who she never actually married, and he makes an unexpected–although at this point, I should have expected it!–appearance as well.

I do have some nitpicks. There are entirely too many explanation points and dialog tags, especially when Mephisto is talking. Mephisto doesn’t come across as “mad” at all, merely eccentric–and no more eccentric than Miranda, herself. And Ms. Lamplighter did not handle her chapter endings well–she would build up to a cliffhanger or some emotional point, have a chapter break, and then resume the story after the point that the cliffhanger built up to. Therefore, we never got to experience the point of the cliffhanger, or we experienced it only as a recollection. Also, at first the book seems hostile to Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, but this turns around the deeper you read, with one character saying that the family “never should have converted from Catholicism”. In fact, the story depends on the belief in many Christian concepts, albeit from a Renaissance worldview. I initially assumed that Eurynome was a goddess, but it turns out she was not–but what she is is nothing you would expect.

My last critique is that I had some suspension of disbelief issues toward the end when certain things were revealed that didn’t make much sense. Here is a spoiler that explains the problem in white text. Highlight it if you want to read it.:

When Prospero enslaved the winds, it seems that he also enslaved the spirits that control electrical power, and it is only due to Prospero’s binding of these spirits that the world can use electricity at all. He keeps them bound to make electricity behave as it does. However, this does not seem logical. Unless Prospero possessed the secrets of the universe when he enslaved the spirits, he would not know how to make the spirits behave when we reached the point where we harnessed electricity. So in this case, my suspension of disbelief is pushed to the point where I am forcing myself to buy into this premise.

By the end of the story, I loved Miranda and her brothers and sister, even Mephisto, who is rather annoying at first. I am ready to jump into the second story, Prospero in Hell, which has an intriguing image of a sword-wielding Miranda on the cover, and promises to introduce the rest of the Prospero children and reveal many secrets.

Prospero Lost is highly imaginative and packed with wonder. I am giving it three stars, however, I am placing it on my Keeper shelf. I recommend it if you have the patience to stick with a character who is compelling without being likable, and if a modern-day fantasy based on Renaissance Christian beliefs would appeal to you.

ThreeStars

AKeeper