Friday, June 19, 2009

Naamah's Kiss

Yesterday I was delighted to discover that the latest novel in Jacqueline Carey's alternate world series was out. These books center around an alternate France with inhabitants descended from angels and the divine offspring of Christ's blood and the Earth - or something. I don't recall, but basiclaly it suffices as a good reason why Terre d'Ange is populated by such pretty and talented people. The first novel to come along, Kushiel's Dart, is still by far my favorite (five sparrows!), but Naamah's Kiss might be my second favorite! And since there are five other novels besides those two set in this world, that's saying something.

I picked up a copy yesterday afternoon, read for an hour, went to work, and came home and finished it in about two hours. Because let's be honest, folks, my brain is the reading equivalent of those people who can do funny math in their heads.

Anyway, I lurved it. I really really enjoy when Carey tells the story of a character's childhood, and since she's been writing in trilogies she's only gotten to do that once per character so far. My favorite story is still Phedre's from Kushiel's Dart, and that's where I would encourage readers to start; she goes into long and enticing explanations of how the country and world work, and who people are. A word of warning: I would not recommend these books for anyone younger than teens, and definitely not for the sexually squeamish. Especially the last two books in Phedre's trilogy, yeesh. Explicit? Quite. On the plus side, it is possible to follow the plot just fine while skipping over the sex scenes, although Carey writes well and has a great sense of humor, so I think you might as well read it all.

Back to Naamah's Kiss - it's a first person narrative told by an engaging, human, and funny narrator named Moirin. She has atrocious taste in men, which is my main objection to the book - if her love interests had been more appealing, I would have rated the book higher. I mean, honestly, after Joscelin and Sidonie you give me this, Jacqueline Carey? Joscelin first shows up in Kushiel's Dart, and Dear Reader, let me tell you, he is right up there next to Mr. Darcy and Edward Cullen in the List of Fictional Men Getting in the Way of my Real Love Life. To quote Rachel Ray, yum-o! The guys in this book? Not so much.

I won't reveal names so the plot can unfold properly, but let's just say I'm seriously disappointed that two people didn't just keel over and die at key points. One of the men is at least attractive, albeit a complete user, but the other one struck me, personally, as so uninteresting that I found the sex scenes with him boring and unlikely. The main character is all, "Oooo, he's so dreamy . . ." and I'm off in a corner scratching my head and going "No . . . really, no." And the way Carey leaves it, I'm going to have to deal with these guys for some time yet. Since a lot of the first book was about figuring out Moirin's destiny and who she loves, etc., the boys were not too much trouble. I'm a bit worried about how much they'll wander around banging into things and making messes in the sequel, though.

But, overall, Naamah's Kiss was a great deal of fun, funny and sweet and adventurous. Four sparrows!

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