Retro Review: The Two Pearls of Wisdom (Eon) / The Necklace of the Gods (Eona)

Alison Goodman

(also published as Eon, Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye, and Eon: Dragoneye Reborn)

HarperCollins (2008)

ISBN: 9780732288006

It’s been a long time since I’ve been sucked into a world so completely that I’ve read each page in breathless anticipation, unable to put the book down. When I managed to pry my eyes from the pages of award-winning author Alison Goodman’s The Two Pearls of Wisdom, it still filled my thoughts, and I counted the seconds until I could immerse myself again.

But where to start? With the utterly real and heart-wrenching characterization perhaps? The author has created a marvellously detailed world peopled with characters who are so non-stereotypical and beautifully realized that you care deeply about their lives, their decisions and their actions. This is true not just of the main character Eon/Eona, but of the supporting cast as well. You fear for Eona as she battles for her power, her life, her honour. You almost cry over her anxiety, and burst with pride at her accomplishments. It is such a powerful connection between characters and reader. The character of Eona is true to her age and experience – her uncertainty about her power, and the decisions she struggles with, are congruent with the overwhelming situation she is facing. She has such enormous responsibility thrust on her from the very beginning, holding the lives of her household in her hands, and then so much more, that her actions are believable and honest. Continue reading

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Retro Review: The Harlequin / Blood Noir

The Harlequin (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #14)

Laurell K Hamilton

Orbit (Hachette Australia), 422 pp

I’ve been an Anita Blake fan for a long time. I’ve read many of the complaints by readers as the series – and indeed – the main character, changed significantly over the course of the books. I’m not sure I agree with all those complaints, but I have had my concerns about the growth of the character, which has been exponential to the length of the series. The concern has been about the sustainability of this growth. Every time she comes up against a more powerful creature, Anita seems to gain some new power in order to defeat the enemy. How long can this go on? Anita is a supernatural being herself, but she doesn’t fit any of the “rules” that other supernatural creatures adhere to. She has also lost many of her inhibitions and now “dates” at least six men, and has sex with more, sometimes MANY more, in the course of the novels. Some of the past few books have been more about the sex than the story, and readership has supposedly dropped off because of it.

Interestingly, in this story, Anita is trying to come to grips with a more emotional block, as opposed to the sexual ones that we’ve been bombarded with in the past. The plethora of sex that has been a concern to many fans, is wound back a bit in this novel (although there is a bit of girl on girl for what I think might be the first time), and the character development takes a step forward. And Edward is back – yay! He’s one of my favourite characters, and I love how his relationship with Anita has changed – I read him like a big brother figure to her, although I’m not entirely sure I should. Continue reading

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Retro Review: Wolfborn (2010)

Sue Bursztynski
Woolshed Press (2010)
ISBN: 978-1-86471-825-6

Etienne is not really interested in being a warrior, but as his family’s only son, he is sent to Lucanne to complete his training with Lord Geraint. As a page in the kindly lord’s household, Etienne is to learn how to rule his own estates, when the time comes. When Geraint goes missing on harvest night, Etienne meets the wisewoman Sylvie and her unusual daughter Jeanne, and begins to suspect that all is not as it seems with his lord. Etienne then becomes caught up in a plot to destroy Geraint’s life, a plot that separates them all from their loved ones and regular worlds, and sees them embroiled in the doings of shapechangers and gods.

Based on a medieval romance, Wolfborn takes from history in many ways but in the process creates a richly detailed fantasy world, blending adventure, romance and paranormal elements to create a coming of age story that is quite unique. Continue reading

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New Review: Imprudence (2016)

Gail Carriger

Orbit (2016)

ISBN: 978-0-316-21219-9 

The Custard Protocol #2

I’m a big fan of Gail Carriger’s work, that’s no secret. I thoroughly enjoy the alternate historical reality she has created and find her books easy yet often thought-provoking reads. The links between the Parasol Protectorate, Finishing School and Custard Protocol books are clever and nicely twisty, and I very much appreciated seeing characters who appeared as protagonists age and evolve as side characters in other work – the glimpses to old favourites at different stages of their lives gives this fangirl’s heart glee.

Imprudence picks up quite soon after the end of the first book of the series (Prudence – if you didn’t know, the book is about Prudence, mostly known as Rue, the now grown-up birth daughter of Alexia and Lord Maccon, heroes of the Parasol Protectorate series, partly raised by her adoptive father, the vampire Lord Akeldama). Rue is a preternatural, the only one of her kind, able to steal the immortality of any supernatural creature with a touch, and hold it until the “tether” snaps (usually with distance), and this has at times made her a target for those who fear her, or those who want to utilise her ability. But Rue has other things to worry about, for her father, the alpha werewolf, needs her help, and the journey she will take has more danger than she could have realised.

The cast of characters in this book is vivid – I adored learning tantalising tidbits about old favourite Akeldama’s past, and seeing the changes other Parasol Protectorate protagonists have gone through. Rue and her friends are also fun. I was worried that maybe Rue and her best friend Primrose might turn into a rerun of their mothers, but they have quite distinctive characters and perspectives on their world. I very much appreciated the way Carriger wrote Rue’s deliberate sexual awakening – the way the character is written is powerful and self-aware, while still being sometimes a bit silly as young people can be, which is something we don’t really see enough of. This characters was complemented by that of Prim, who is cut from quite a different cloth, and the werelioness Tasherit, whose immortality makes her somewhat unknowable, but whose catlike traits render her something different again (she’s fantastic). It was nice to see this balance of different women who work together to play on each others’ strengths and it’s one of my favourite things about all Carriger’s books, because she writes women well, and writes them OFTEN.

I have to be honest and say I haven’t engaged quite as much with this series as with earlier books, and I’m not too sure why. I adore the characters, and the comedy of manners style Carriger employs – I hesitate to say it but I wonder if perhaps it’s simply that my reading tastes have started to change. It’s certainly happened before, so it’s possible. Still, once I was immersed in Rue’s adventures, I read the book swiftly and didn’t get distracted, so I’m guessing there’s still hope for me yet!

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Retro Review: Greywalker (2007)

Kat Richardson

Piatkus (2007)

ISBN: 9780749938963

There are such a lot of paranormal and supernatural romance/thriller/crime novels around these days that it is with some trepidation I approach a new series. Especially a series written by a first-time novelist. However, publisher Piatkus is producing some fine paranormals, so I left my mind open and threw myself into Greywalker.

Harper Blaine becomes a Greywalker after a vicious assault during a routine investigation (she’s a private investigator). She “died” for a few minutes, and as she recovers, she starts to experience strange visions. The doctors tell her it’s just the recovery process, but one – less hide-bound than the others – suggests some people she might talk to, as he considers that what Harper is experiencing might be something else. Something other. Continue reading

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