Active member of Internet Writers Workshop (IWW, where I critique and submit manuscripts to NOVELS-L), happily married mother of three, BA in English teaching, four years as a tech writer, then home writing novels and neglecting the house. I do keep up with laundry and dishes, and my native prairie restoration in summer, but I read insatiably.
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Smashwords book reviews by Carol Kean
on Aug. 23, 2010
*A classic, sure to attract a cult following*
This is far and away the best fantasy novel I have ever read! Harry Potter, Edward and Bella, you've met your match. Fans will re-read this enchanting novel, share it with friends and treasure it for years to come.
When Finn Wilde's clan orders him to kidnap Bea Jones, he falls crazy in love with her instead. He must choose between Bea and the family he grew up in - an organization that demands death to traitors.
The fairy-tale romance of Finn and Bea is told by a mysterious new patient at a mental hospital. Found in dirty jeans and a tattered Hawaiian shirt, the young man won't reveal his name nor where he comes from. He only speaks to one soul, a widow grieving the deaths of her son and husband. Miriam grows entranced by his often comical, sometimes dark, narration.
Of course he's making it all up. Who'd believe a strange race of men living among humans since the time of King Arthur? --But the patient knows his characters too well for them to be imaginary. He relays their dialogues and adventures with true warmth, affection and uncanny detail.
First we meet Finn, a computer nerd trapped in a super-strong body. He's one of the Fir Na Gealaí, whose power and speed allow them to leap tall buildings and bend parking meters in half. The super senses of the Fir come at a price --their monthly syzygy, a violent, murderous hour (well, 12 hours) in which each Fir must be locked up until the urge to kill has passed. A cure for the syzygy might lie in Bea's blood, and a mad scientist will do anything to get her, alive or dead. When Finn can't bring himself to hand her over to Dr. Malum, his rival Tom gets the job done.
Day by day, the story unfolds as young "John Doe" meets the widow in the courtyard. He is sweet, vulnerable, and witty, but quick to panic and put the story on hold until his mood swings back from manic to pensive. The more he talks, the more Miriam suspects he is one of the characters in his own story. But which one? --None of them, of course; it is only a story, after all, however wonderfully and compellingly he tells it. At least, Miriam keeps telling herself.
Bea's humor and resilience, even in captivity, will snare readers and keep them turning pages faster than a Fir during his syzygy. Every character in the novel is unique, memorable, clearly drawn and loveable. Bea's uncle Lucas, her friend Sam, and even the "bad" guys are funny and believable. Bea's online video logs (vlogs) and Finn's ancient curse bring Arthurian legend and modern technology together in story that sparkles with vitality, hope, life or death conflict, searing sacrifice, and the healing power of friendship and love.
Amanda Borenstadt is a novelist to watch. This first effort is so sterling, readers will demand more.