**spoiler alert** “Daaang, that was trippy” were the first words to pop into my mind as I finished the last page of Damewood: Demons of the Past, the...more**spoiler alert** “Daaang, that was trippy” were the first words to pop into my mind as I finished the last page of Damewood: Demons of the Past, the debut novel from Erin Durante. The novel is a hybrid of sorts, much like the driving them and some of the characters composing this science fiction tale of the far off future where technology and biotech advancements have gone haywire. I love stories that weave the two together and Damewood: Demons of the Past seamlessly leads the reader from future to a feigned feudal past and right back around to a dark possible future.
The familiar tale of a ragtag group on the quest to bring a magical trinket to a fabled city is turned upside down on its head as it clashes with a too-close-to-home meditation on the abuse of science and technology. I was eager to see how the suspenseful prologue tied in with the rest of the novel and although one of my suspicions were confirmed in connection with one of the characters, I was still left with my jaw dropped and my eyes wide once the true story was revealed. Ms. Durante has a way of writing great action scenes that are matched only by her vivid visual descriptions. It didn't take me long to get swept away by the royal setting which was soon replaced by vicious attacks leaving the viewer wondering what was behind all of it. There were some nice surprises and crazy beasties sprinkled throughout the chapters (the Arachnid chapter was by far one of the most freakiest and memorable to me) and many moments of great suspense that ultimately lead to the jaw dropping revelations in the final chapters.
The inhabitants of the world within and around Damewood each brought something to the story. There are many to name and I don’t want to say too much to give away the true intentions of each character but I have to say I seriously loved the character of Vestro, the shape changing kelpie with ties to the hidden history of the society long ago buried. Major props to Ms. Durante for presenting one of the most realistic shift descriptions I've read. When Vestro shifts back and forth from human to horse, the descriptions are very visceral as you can hear and feel every muscle pop, skin stretch and body changes. I literally cringed at the pain poor Vestro must have felt.
The only character I had a hard time connecting with until the bitter end with was the main character of Nadia, the eldest Princess of Damewood. Although I imagine she was to be written in her mid-twenties, Nadia often acting like a spoiled teenager refusing to stop and think before acting and often squaring off with those who won't listen to her while she screamed and threw tantrums when she didn't get her way. Earilier in the story, I felt there were moments when Nadia came across situations that showed her maturity to help others when her traveling party refused (especially during the harrowing journey toward the end) and it was during these moments where the character shined at her best. But sometimes she see-sawed back into her old childish antics especially toward that of her admirer and childhood friend, the newly inherited King of Pearl Isles, Andrew. In the end, I did end up sympathizing with Nadia especially after she found out her true purpose and background. I was left wondering the fates of the other characters who may or may not still be around during the epilogue as I had gotten quite attached to them.
The sexual tension and closeness between Nadia and Vestro was palpable and I have to admit the scene where they almost give in to each other is very well written and hot. My breath caught a few times and I couldn't blame Nadia for nearly forgetting their surroundings. A slight hint at a love triangle is presented here that is answered by outside forces later on in the story and the romantic in me is still curious over who Nadia would have chosen. Nadia would volley back and forth between the two men from friend to ‘maybe more’ at times and I was curious where it could have gone.
All in all Damewood: Demons of the Past was one heck of a story with a fabulous setting, a fantastic futuristic and dark background and supporting characters that really made me cringe and gasp when one of them was hurt or killed. It's a pretty fast paced story that I often found hard to put down once I started reading a chapter or two. The epilogue was left open for the continuing story in the trilogy and part of me is eager to see where Ms. Durante takes it while the other part is still trying to catch her breath while mourning the (possible) lost characters that I had favored and grown attached to.
If you’re looking for a science fiction tale with a twist, a bit of mystery and great detailed action scenes on the side, check out Damewood: Demons of the Past - Book One of the Damewood trilogy. The artwork surrounding this series is gorgeous and I love the deep, rich colors of the landscapes and people. The characters are awesomely painted and appeared like I had imagined them in my mind’s eye and I love looking at the depictions of the fantasy-like forest settings that make up the world.
I’d probably advise checking out some of the more detailed sections after you’ve read the book so no surprises will spoil you!
More goodies are on the way including some chapter peeks, character profiles and illustrations, and an author bio. Being a special features junkie, I’ll be keeping an eye out on the extras offered in the coming days leading up to the release on December 12, 2008. (less)
Wow! What an excellent debut from Julie Kagawa. The Iron King is the first in the Iron Fey trilogy and I must say I am addicted to this series right o...moreWow! What an excellent debut from Julie Kagawa. The Iron King is the first in the Iron Fey trilogy and I must say I am addicted to this series right off the bat.
Ms. Kagawa opens the book with our heroine Megan Chase dealing everyday teen life battling wits with her parents, caring for her baby half brother Ethan, a jokey best friend and her crush on the most popular boy in school she is sent to tutor. Amidst all of this, there is something otherworldly in the air. Things move out of the corner of her eye, her best friend is acting strange and strange creatures seem to overtake everyday people. Soon the world of the Fey opens up and Megan is called to save her baby brother when he is switched by a vicious changeling and puts her family endanger. Megan's journey sends her through a maze of strange creatures and customs, numerous bargains and debts and a secret revealed about her family history and ultimate future.
I LOVED this book! Although I lament the fact that current fantasy writers have overused the European mythologies to the point of cliche, The Iron Fey takes these myths and breathe new life into them. I loved the idea of the Iron Fey seeing the old courts as the past while they, purveyors of iron, current and advanced technology are the future. The characters are fully developed with Megan being a down to Earth character who is a bit of an outcast in our world but soon finds her footing and strength in the Fey world. She never becomes overbearing to the point of arrogant, she always keeps her head even though her choices aren't always the best ones. I sympathized with her plight and loved her sayings. I was rooting for her to find her baby brother and survive each obstacle that was thrown her way.
I also loved the way the potential romance was handled here. Not to spoil too much but I had a feeling that someone close to her was more interested than he let on. Although that was left unsaid here, I have a feeling it'll be making head way again. I was torn between this character and princely one who is completely and utterly swoonable in the romantic sense. By the end, I was rooting for this character and gasped every time something happened to him. I hate to biased but I'm rooting that she ends up with the latter character. And if she doesn't want him, pass him on over to me!
The Iron King is one of those novels that you hate to put down. There's always something happening and always something about to happen that keeps the action and plot development well paced. It's a good and bad thing because I get to see what happens (good) but the fun is over faster (bad). It's also a bummer because I'm hoping my next read is just as satisfying. Kudos to Harlequin for presenting this in their new Teen line of books. I'm a new fan of Ms. Kagawa and while I'm clamoring for the next Iron Fey entry (August 2010, counting down the days!) I'll be checking out other books in HQN's line.
The Iron King is the first entry into my Best of 2010 Reads.
If you liked The Iron King and are looking for similar books. Might I suggest the following with similar themes and Fae mythology:
From the moment I saw the cover for Zoe by T.A. Ford, I was entranced. The rich pastel textures reminded me of sweet confections reminiscent of beauti...moreFrom the moment I saw the cover for Zoe by T.A. Ford, I was entranced. The rich pastel textures reminded me of sweet confections reminiscent of beautiful previous century tapestries. The fact that a beautiful girl with smooth coffee skin instead of the usual porcelain complexion graced the cover made me sit up and take notice along with the laced title.
I don't usually read historical romances, mainly because the heroines were of the run of the mill same variety without much difference between them. Thus I couldn't find much interest. I did read historical fiction, like the Feast of July & Legends of the Fall, and many movies that took placed in the previous century that were adapted from books still grace my shelves to this day.
However Zoe has helped introduced me to a new love in a genre I hope to find more of in the coming days: IR Historical Romance.
And yet it's so much more than that.
From the moment we're introduced to Zoe, her sister Marianne and her stepmother Madame we enter a world of rare privilege and high society. Where women's futures are defined by the men they marry. Marianne is set to ride this path as she is to meet with the Count Julien La Roque de Toulouse as they enter his home. But once the Count sees Zoe, he is entranced by her and sets to make her his.
Most of the synopsis is in the back of the book so I won't recount it. I'll share my thoughts on the book instead.
In a word, this book is magnificent. A richly described novel that takes you into the depths of the character's turmoils, loves, frustrations and fights as they interact in early 19th century Toulouse, France. Author T.A. Ford takes you on a journey of the self discovery of her title character as she leaves childhood behind and enters womanhood. There were so many beautiful descriptions and wonderful quotes. One in particular stands out:
She reached down and pulled up the covers. She understood now that being a woman was not losing her virginity.
Being a woman meant understanding her heart.
Zoe is definitely a strong independent female character forced to grow up wiser than her years due to the inhumanity she grew up around as a child and that she was reminded of by her stepmother everyday. Even through all the atrocities she faces and as she fears the loss of her family and her loves heart, you can't help but love her and keep cheering her on as she struggles to survive a cruel world.
Count LaRoque is a complex romance hero that defies mere terms like that of alpha and beta. He lives and breathes right off the pages as he goes from cold hearted womanizer to lovelorn hero within the pages. Once his past is revealed, it all becomes clear.
Author T.A. Ford said this book is part factual and part fantasy and I can see where some liberties may have been taken. But overall the book feels like it could have taken place in a very real time not too long ago. The descriptions of the scenery as well the character's dresses and actions made it seem like a period movie played out in my head as I read. I wished all the more that my dreams for directing had already come to light as this would definitely be a story I would be more than eager to adapt for the visual medium of storytelling (with the author's consent and guidance of course ;-) ).
I can't say enough about Zoe and I can't remember when a book last had me cheering out loud one minute, crying the next, and yelling in surprise the next minute after that. I started reading the book late last night with only the idea of reading one chapter and ended up reading until the sun started rising outside my window. Tonight I finished the second half of the book and haven't remember plowing through a good book in that short amount of time since I was thirteen reading Jurassic Park in three days.
This book has definitely made it to my keeper shelf and I can't wait to reread it again later. The book may seem rather costly but do not let that sway you. It is an amazing, entertain and beautiful read that you should definitely check out.
Zoe has earned it's way as number 1 on my best reads of 2008 list and I can't wait to see what else T.A. Ford has in store for her readers. I hope IR Historical Romances start popping up like Zoe, because if they do, I'll definitely be eating them up like hot cakes!
I started SheWolf about a day or so ago and I probably would have finished it yesterday if I wasn't up working late. It's one of those books you start...moreI started SheWolf about a day or so ago and I probably would have finished it yesterday if I wasn't up working late. It's one of those books you start and you know you should be in bed but you can't stop reading no matter how many times you promise yourself "I'll stop at the end of this chapter".
Right from the start the story engages you with complex characters who live and breathe right off the page. I wanted to keep following Anna and Kieran around and loved being entrenched in their world. Anna's struggles, although otherworldly, are still identifiable and you want to root for her to overcome her fears, struggles and go get her man! I loved how independent and strong she was while still allowing her femininity to rise to the surface.
Kieran on the other hand. Wooo doggie. And I mean that literally. Very alpha, very masculine and VERY HOT, I could smell his testosterone as it dripped from each word. Personally I'm not one for alpha domineering males in real life but like most romance readers when it comes in the form of paranormals it is very very sexy in the hero. There is one scene where the hero demands something of the heroine that nearly melted my palm pilot, I'll tell ya that much.
Woo! *Fans self* Where was I...
The hero and heroine very hot together and the love scenes are seriously smoking here. Very well written. Also what I loved about the story is how there's so much emotion. One minute you're on edge with fear, then excitement, then anger and then overcome with sadness. Not many books lately, although good reads, have been able to make me feel such a range. I had to stop myself from finishing the book or else it'd be over. And, readers, you know how much that sucks because of how much you've invested in the characters.
If and when this comes out in paperback I'm definitely adding this one to my keeper shelf. It's currently available in ebook format and I urge you readers out there if you haven't tried an ebook, trot on over to Freya's Bower and download a copy.
I'm also reading Blood Martyr but as it comes out in short chapter formats I must wait with much anticipation for the next one to come out. Hopefully it's soon! :-D(less)
This is a definitely favorite of mine that sits right on my writing bookshelf. I always recommend this to my students learning to write novels and it'...moreThis is a definitely favorite of mine that sits right on my writing bookshelf. I always recommend this to my students learning to write novels and it's great for current writers looking to jumpstart their writing juices.
A wonderful how-to book that doesn't talk down to you or use big complex explanations. It goes step by step explaining the structure of a novel via essays by a variety of authors so the advice is always from a fresh perspective. Everything from plot structure, characterization, theme, point of view to selling your novel and book contracts are in this book so if you're looking to dive into novel writing, this is a great start. (less)