I have a book recommendation for you.
I inhaled this book, so I’m completely biased. You have been warned.
I was hesitant to read it, because it’s a Nightshade book and they haven’t been treating their authors so well and because the cover, while beautiful, seemed a bit woe is me, everybody dies. But it was there, and I wanted something to read, so one night I opened it. I fully expected to put it down, since, as you probably know by now, I hate everything.
There was a movie in the 80′s called Ladyhawke. MISERERE reads like Ladyhawke had a baby in purgatory and Meljean Brook delivered it. This is the exact point where the book got me:
For this callous bitch, he had sacrificed Rachael, only to remain locked in battle against his twin until there was nothing left inside him but ice and apathy. His heart lay quiet now, cold as sorrow, dry as hate. Lucian turned and walked away from her.
“Where are you going?”
He heard her chair scrape the floor as she stood. He jerked the door open. The maid he had passed earlier fled down the corridor.
“Lucian? Answer me!”
Cerberus spoke in the background. Lucian neither heard nor cared what the demon directed. He slammed the heavy dining room door hard enough to shake the frame.
She was still calling his name as he grabbed his mantle from the hook in the foyer. He emerged into a day as gray as his mood. Another of her guards attempted to impede his way. Lucian shoved past him and reached the wide avenue before the soldier recovered himself. A note of panic edged his twin’s voice as she called after him. Lucian didn’t stop. If she wanted to make him pay later then let her; he would lie down and take it because he had purchased his pain.
And the price had been dear.
Isn’t that elegant? I read that “he has purchased his pain” and moved my pillows around because I was in for a long evening. Before we go any further, there is a love story and an HEA (Happily Ever After), in case you were worried. I finished with a smile on my face.
Here is how the worldbuilding goes: there are four worlds and they kind of sit next to each other like beads on a rosary. On one end is Heaven. Then Earth, then Woerld, then Hell. Hell is full of nasty demons who would love to conquer Heaven, but to do that, they first have to get to it. That’s where Woerld comes in: it’s a place where warriors fortify and try to hold back the demons. The Woerld has many fortresses, one for each major religion on Earth. Once in a while children with special abilities get pulled from Earth into Woerld, where they are raised to fight the demons. Some are knights, some are healers, others are exorcists and so on. Woerld and Earth are linked: when the demons destroyed Zoroastrian Fortress, the religion died out on Earth.
Lucian was one these chosen children. He and his sister Catarina were pulled into Woerld to become warriors. Lucian became a knight and an exorcist. His sister made a pact with demons. There is one in every family.
To save his sister’s life, Lucian had been forced to sacrifice everything, including Rachael, another knight whom he loves. As a result of his actions, Lucian was exiled and forbidden from using his powers. He and his sister travelled to a city of Hadra, where Catarina promptly took over and set about fulfilling her demonic pact and Lucian became her prisoner. As the narrative puts it, “His twin sat in the center of her intrigues like a great dark spider, spinning her web of deceit and growing her army.” Years passed.
In the beginning of the book Lucian is broken. At heart, he is a carebear with superawesome powers: he can open gates to hell, he can exorcise demons, he can chop people into very small pieces with his sword, but he is also very kind and compassionate. He was put into an impossible situation and had to pick his sister or Rachael and he realized very quickly he had made the wrong choice. He loves Rachael, heartbreakingly and completely, but he had abandoned her, and so subconsciously Lucian had decided that he had to be punished. All of that kindness and love turned into self-loathing. He is a former shadow of his former self: lame, dejected, humiliated on every turn by his sister. He is trapped. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly an opportunity presents itself and he takes it and escapes.
He can barely believe it, but just as he takes his first gulp of fresh air, a child is pulled into the Woerld. The demons are after her and now Lucian must make a choice: to use his magic to save the child, announcing his location to everyone or to run away. Given that Lucian is a carebear, we know exactly what he does. :)
Near the Citadel, Rachael is struggling. When Lucian abandoned her, she had become possessed by a demon. The Wyrm, as they call it, gnaws on her trying to gain control of her soul. All exorcisms have failed. Rachael is a Judge, a lethal knight. On a battlefield, she’s frightening. But she’s been fighting the Wyrm for years and the demon is winning. Then the Citadel sends for her: Lucian had left the city and used his magic. Now she has to find him and drag him back to Citadel for judgement.
This book is about demons, sword fighting, magic, but also about Lucian’s journey from being a wreck to becoming once again a knight. People got beat up. Scary things happened. Dark magics were unleashed. Modern things like cellphones were used in unexpected ways. HEA happened. I loved it. It was like dark chocolate.
There were some minor issues. The child sounds a touch too adult, for example. Also, I wanted hot nookie and didn’t get it, but I understand why. One doesn’t just forgive years of abandonment and jump in the sack. But overall, it is my precious. I finished it and immediately went on Twitter to tell Meljean about it. I’ve emailed Teresa about it and she is not sure if we’re going to get a sequel or not.
I want the sequel. ::shakes fist:
So here is Teresa’s website, where there is a link to the excerpt of the first four chapters. If you have some free time today, head on over there and check it out. :)