Thu 25 Sep 2008
I’ve reviewed two of Lilith Saintcrow’s other novels here before. Yes, strangely enough, that appears to be her real name. She writes urban fantasy and the occasional high fantasy novels; the Dante Valentine series, of which I’ve reviewed the first novel, appears to be complete in five volumes. Her Steelflower series (review here) has just begun; and she has a YA series entitled “Strange Angels” due to hit next year, I believe. She also has a novel she’s serializing on her website; entitled Selene and found here, it’s about a couple of characters who show up in the Dante Valentine series. (Free Book on the Internet alert!) They have a prequel novella entitled “Brother’s Keeper” in the Hotter than Hell anthology; the serial is updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s got an adult content advisory, as Selene is a sexwitch, by the way.
Dante is a Watcher (no relation to Dante Valentine); they’re members of Circle Lightfall who aren’t Lightbringers (roughly, Good Witches) but who watch over the Lightbringers both while they are outside of Circle Lightfall, and after they’ve been offered membership to Circle Lightfall. Dante’s been assigned to Theodora (Theo) Morgan, who is a rather powerful green witch (plants and healing); the Crusade is in town, and they’re after her. (The Crusade, of course, is a bunch of zombie knights who hunt down witches and kill them, whether they’re good witches or bad witches. They were originally a secret branch of the Catholic church, but now they’re evilly independent.) Can Dante keep Theo alive?
The whole situation, of course, is complicated by the fact that Watchers are slightly Dark, and have trouble even so much as touching Lightbringers — except, of course, if the Lightbringer the Watcher is touching is his fated mate. I’m sure I don’t even have to tell readers that we discover very early on that Theo is Dante’s fated mate (or, as he says, his witch). Her touch doesn’t bring him pain, but pleasure. It’s complicated on Theo’s side, as well, because she’s a healer, and all the Watchers were chosen from the ranks of troubled, hurt, or just plain broken men, to redeem them. She wants nothing so bad as to heal Dante, but that would be also be problematic. Being a healer, she’s also profoundly uncomfortable with his ability to wreak violence.
I was rather bothered to find out that Ms. Saintcrow had reused a name, and with a character of a different gender. Dante Valentine and Dante No Last Name are nothing alike (other than both being slightly Darkish); Dante in this book would probably die before he’d go by “Danny.” I sort of liked him, although he was basically a romance-novel-ish stereotypical Wounded Man. Theo, of course, was a stereotypical healer or saint sort; she was pretty much everything required by a historical romance except a virgin. The major problems — he’s a fighter, she’s a healer; he’s lying to her for her own good — are also stereotypically those found in romance novels. I’m not against any of this — I like romance novels — but it should be mentioned to potential readers that I found these to be more paranormal romances than anything else.
It’s a very short novel; not quite 200 pages. It reads fairly quickly; I was done, even watching Monday Night Football, in a couple hours. The story, fortunately, is complete in that time. I didn’t feel as if she’d left quite a bit out in order to scale it down to that size. It’s a bit interesting to see an adult novel with fewer than 200 pages. I could definitely get behind more of these; fortunately there are four more. My glee at the length, though, still acknowledges that there are flaws with the book: all the characters are pretty flat and the plot is barely developed, as it’s stretched out over at least five volumes. Now, on the other hand, Ms. Saintcrow (as always) does create a world that I very much enjoyed visiting, despite its danger, and I do look forward to visiting again. 3.5/5 stars.