With a title like Freya’s Tears, anyone with some background in Norse mythology may raise an eyebrow. Will the goddess be woven into the tale at all, and if so, how so? For this reader, who possesses deep affinity for mythology, skepticism hovered above the novel prior to reading it. “Surely, disappointment will once again reign as another favored myth becomes defiled by misuse,” I thought. With abundant joy, each page unfolded into an incredibly well crafted, unique, science fiction tale that was replete with an astonishing voice of the storytellers of the past.
D. Jordan Redhawk transfixed this reader with Freya’s Tears, a work at once unique and steeped in the beauty of mythology. Redhawk managed to maintain the myth of Freya, not merely by allusion or homage, but by intricately lacing it into a modern work of science fiction. In doing so, Redhawk transcends skill and reaches into the realm of the masterful.
Each facet of the book incorporates the myth: from the ship’s name, Freya’s Tears, wound into the main character Captain Elsibet Ulfarsdottir, the unfolding of the plot, Elsbet’s love, and more.
Apart from subtle, yet complete, weaving of mythology, Redhawk builds an intricate, believable world within a troubled space cargo ship that avoids the trappings of the mundane replication of space operatic formulaic writing. Freya’s Tear’s was my first D. Jordan Redhawk novel experience. If this book is an indication of Redhawk’s other works, I plan to relish the exploration of space, and any other worlds that she creates, by checking out the rest of her bibliography.
Vermilion Justice, by Sheri Wohl, avoids the trappings of the new sparkling vampire paradigm while by combining a mix of tradition and her own unique spin on the tale. Wohl weaves a tale that skirts the line of horror, treading down the dark urban fantasy hand in hand with the paranormal, employing excellent use of literary reference, attention to detail, and a clear delineation of the good versus evil. The main character, vampire Riah Preston, compels the reader with a certain verve, intellect, and sexiness befitting of any vampire.
The overall story combines enough necessary modernity to hold most readers’ attention by the inclusion of a group created to fight evil (Spiritus Group), a mystery, (a missing friend), then returns to the conventional with a trip to Romania, the traditional homeland of the vampires, and a meeting with Vlad Dracula.
In a way, Wohl seems to try to fill the bill for all vampire fans, both traditional and modern. But attempting to please divergent fan base may be detrimental, as her plot development follows a somewhat obvious path.
While Vermilion Justice is well written, it felt a bit too familiar, regardless of the twist of having the lesbian focal characters.
Marie Castle’s First Novel, Hell’s Belle: Book 1 of the Dark Mirror series
Revitalizes the Dark Urban Fantasy landscape
Lately, the fantasy landscape, regardless of sub-genre, has become littered with perfunctory, now cliché, devices: the detective agency run by supernatural beings, an individual whose magic is extraordinary for her generation, a council put into place to enforce the laws of magic use, and trips to hell replete with demons. In her novel, Hell’s Belle, Marie Castle indeed employs these ideas, however, she does so not only in an exceptionally clever manner, but she breaths new life into them. Perhaps I was drawn to her ability to blend a depth of literary knowledge and re-package it in a non-alienating manner; thereby leaving no reader out of the story. Blending depth of research into a very accessible story takes a deft hand, and Castle does that well. Yet, Hell’s Belle goes beyond simply having an intellectually disposed author (as most authors have such dispositions in some manner.) Castle generates interest in the expected by adding to them, creating layers of gray, in a genre where evil is generally obvious and good may be as well. The first idea that caught my attention was the detective agency, Dark Mirror. Of course, for this reader, who truly enjoys looking through the glass darkly, the name caught my eye; yet Castle used the allusion delightfully well. She wove the allusion into the main character, Cate Delancey, into her identity, into her core witch. Whether that technique was intentional or not doesn’t matter, for the action sets forth a complexity in Cate Delaney. The character never transcends her place in the magic-cum- human realm. Castle could easily have left Cate as simply a Guardian of humanity, hence “good” in character, yet she never truly is completely “good” in the traditional way. Furthermore, Castle extends the notion into the conception of Hell. While Hell has it’s Dante-esque cast, Castle manipulates it such that it can be simultaneously frightening and, contrarily, sexy. There’s more to enjoy in Marie Castle’s debut novel. Her ability to capture Southern culture is exemplary. While many Southerners fail to capture the nuances of language, disposition, and sensibilities; Castle embraces the essence of the culture without trivializing it, particularly in the familial relationships and interactions with others – politeness, often with a bite. I enjoyed this book a good deal more than I expected to do, as I am becoming a tad jaded by the over usage of once good ideas. I recommend Hell’s Belle and happily anticipate the rest of the series.