Sunday, March 27, 2011

Serenity, by D. Renee Bagby

Reids Rating: Milk Chocolate

This alternate universe fantasy weaves the story of a political union between a princess and a, well, demon, facilitating the end of hostilities between two races. It has strong undercurrents that discuss the many facets of love, the forms it takes, and the power of loyalty, honor, and duty. And also speaks quite powerfully about making the very best of what life gives you to work with.

Bagby has created a challenging and fascinating fantasy world in this novel set in the Gezane Universe. There were a number of times, in fact, when this reader got the distinct impression that the world was more of a challenge than Bagby was capable of managing.
Take the prologue, for instance--as the, sadly, first such instance. Now, bear in mind that this reader did no reading of blurbs or anything before glomming the book in question. I'm sure I read the blurb--months? years?--ago when the book was initially purchased. I was halfway through said prologue before it dawned on me that two of the prominent characters in the scene were decidedly not human.

Kudos, for the obvious twist that made. However, I consider it a failing on the author's part for surely, if it had been solidly in POV, the character would have noticed some decidedly nonhuman aspects.
We'll overlook that though. I can handle sudden twists.

I cannot overlook the info-dumping.
Sadly, it came at the most inopportune times in the first third of the book. Some of it felt as though it had been quite literally dumped in, and the rest of it was excessive character description. Does it truly matter which way the horns of each character curl? It's like telling me which way Mary Sue parts her hair and how it differs from the hairdo that Isabella Swan sports. It is readily apparent, throughout this portion of the book, that there was excessive editorial neglect in terms of content and prose quality.
Bagby's cast of characters, the world-building and plot are all beautiful, despite any editorial efforts and certainly not because of anything the publisher did.

In the end, Bagby gives her characters a satisfying resolution, although some of the scenes, descriptions--namely the climactic ones--feel rushed, and the final knot in the romantic plot thread feels a tad bit hollow and fabricated. The author works so hard at having it be a surprise that there is little to no supporting evidence to build up to this culmination. It would have been much improved with stronger writing while in the demon's POV. There is, sadly, little to no depth to him until the last third of the story. As a result, the reader is left struggling to determine which romance the story is supposed to be focusing on--the married king and queen, or the queen and her bodyguard?

The romantic plot thread could have used more reinforcement, stronger arcs that the reader didn't have to fumble for. The POV's could have been stronger--the demon's at least. The info-dumping... And yet I enjoyed this book a great deal despite its flaws. Not certain if Bagby plans to write again in this particular universe, but I'll certainly give her another try if she does.

Wanna taste? Get it here.

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