Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Diary of a Fairy Godmother and The Priest of Blood

Sometimes I think the kids get all the good books.

Hunky Dory is a young witch (one hundred years old) enrolled in Miss Fortune Harbinger's Charm School for Young Witches. Voted "Most likely to be the wickedest witch," Hunky is the top of her class and destined for great things. Except she has a tendency to undo her wicked spell work. Sure she can turn a prince into a frog. But she always turns him back.

Diary of a Fairy Godmother by Esme Raji Codell follows Hunky Dory as she comes to terms with her unsavory (unsavory by witch standards) inclination, the desire to do good. The novel is filled with humor and through Be One with the Wand, the charm school's textbook, offers rather good advice.

*Live as though your fondest wish has been granted.
*Fake it till you make it.
*There's more to you than the job you do.
*There is no voice on the outside that can tell you more than the voice on the inside.
*The first step in accomplishing amazing things is setting unrealistic goals.
*When you do what you have to do, it helps other people do what they have to do.

The story lags in the middle and the diary format makes the narrative uneven. The book would have been great if the sense of conflict were more developed and Hunky Dory had to work a little harder to reach her goals. Nevertheless, a nice way to clear out the cobwebs left by dull "adult" novels.

Douglas Clegg's Priest of the Blood was a bit of an enigma. On one hand, it was an entertaining novel. On the other, I found it un-memorable.

The story follows Aleric, a young man of Brittany, born in the time of the Crusades. Aleric's mother is the town whore, his father just one of the many nameless men. Aleric spends his time in the forest with his grandfather, learning how to catch and train birds of prey. Eventually, his skill earns him a place as the Baron's Falconer, but that ends when he has an affair with the Baron's daughter and is conscripted to fight in the Crusades. After many battles and seeing his brother die, Aleric loses faith and wanders away to a damned city in the desert. There he is taken in by a vampire priestess and becomes a vampire himself.

Being an immortal isn't all it's cracked up to be as vampires are cursed to live about a hundred years and then fall into a slow, tortuous decay called the Extinguishing. But Aleric might be the chosen "One" who can save himself and the rest of his undead tribe from that fate.

Despite the gothic trappings, the novel is an easy read; Clegg's prose is efficient (the novel is only 310-pages long.) Aleric's tale isn't happy, but Clegg avoids the usually pity-parties so typical of the genre. The premise approaches the idea of vampires from a predator/prey standpoint, rather than the typical good vs. evil.

The novel's only real weakness is the first chapter. The first part of the chapter consists of a history lesson, explaining how vampires came to be. The chapter ends with the protagonist essentially saying, "This is my story. I'm very old. I may not remember all the details, but this is my story." Meh.

In the end, despite the strong aspects of the novel, I never really engaged with the protagonist and probably won't read the sequel. But if vampires are your thing, give Priest of the Blood a try.

Also read...
Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden. Gah, well, no, I didn't actually read it. After 20-pages, I bailed. The writing was competent, but bland, lacking the sparkle of Golden's Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel All The Pretty Maids.

A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin. I powered through this doorstopper in a few days, but it lacked Martin's usual sense of urgency and the addition of new characters to an already enormous cast seemed unnecessary.

I'm in a reading slump. It's been eons since a book sat up and said, "Send some love to my author and buy me." (I use the library.) *Because I'm one sick puppy, in my TBR pile are two romances--Dark Lover by J.R. Ward and A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court by Marianne Mancusi. (*So far I've hated nearly all romances I've read.)



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