Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Flame And The Shadow - Denise Rossetti


The Flame And The Shadow
Denise Rossetti
Ace

Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Readers of fantasy should note that, in this case, the term ‘fantasy’ does not adequately describe the content of the book. There’s fantasy, scifi, and a very heavy concentration on explicit sexual encounters. For what it’s worth, the author has established herself as a writer of erotica. This novel might be better read as erotica in a fantasy setting, rather than as a fantasy with a lot of sex. Ultimately, that’s pretty disappointing, because I found the actual plot to be quite interesting and I wish there had been more of it.

Grayson (Gray) of Concordia, professionally known as the Duke of Ombra is traveling from world to world as a musician. In truth, he has a darker purpose. For most of his childhood, Gray thought everyone’s shadow was a separate being capable of holding conversations and physical interaction. Now he believes that Shad is the worst part of himself and desperately wishes to be rid of it. Deiter, a wizard, has promised to sever the two; his price is that Gray must kidnap the only known fire witch and bring her to Deiter. He’s promised the same thing to the Technomage Primus. Someone is going to be angry.

Cenda lives on Sybaris, a tourist mecca that also supports an enclave of Magick users. Until the recent death of her toddler daughter, Cenda was a witch of indifferent powers. Since the child’s death, Cenda has become a fire witch. Her powers, once harnessed, could be incredible, but she’s barely scratched the surface of their use. Since the death of her daughter, Cenda has lived a mostly emotionless life, so she’s very surprised when the handsome musician shows an interest in her. Letting down her guard should have been much more difficult.

Cenda and Gray (and Shad, a character in his own right) are interestingly flawed characters with histories that make sense. Neither is young or hopeful. Both are doing what they believe necessary just to live. Their relationship evolves in a warped way. Gray bent on seducing her in order to further his kidnapping plot; Shad with his own motivations and will to live; Cenda mistaking sex for love.

Everything really blows up when Cenda learns the truth of the plot(s) against her. At that point, she’s become a much more emotionally mature person, and is more able to deal with realities. In contrast, Gray has become more sentimental and actually feels some guilt about essentially trading Cenda for his own peace of mind. The author has built an internally logical world, populated by fascinating characters. A little less emphasis on the purely sexual would only give the intriguing plot and emotional evolution of the characters more deserved attention.

Rating: 7
November 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01634-1 (trade paperback)

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