A few weeks ago, Michelle Mankin emailed me to ask me if I’d be interested in an ARC of her newest book.
When she gave me the blurb, I agreed enthusiastically.
The dreamscape is a place of magic and mystery and meaning. In that nocturnal realm, ideas, images, sensations and emotions drift on the currents of the unconscious mind.
Morpheus the Dream Falcon is most at home in that domain. By night, the one of a kind winged immortal soars on those winds, observing and sometimes even entering the slumbering thoughts of another. By day, he is a highly sought after mercenary feared by his immortal kin for both his unmatched ferocity and his wicked obsidian talons. None of his prey escapes him.
Cecilia Ramirez y Aguilera is the one he truly wants. But the striking oracle of the Court of the Light Immortals is closed to the handsome outlaw, even in her dreams. Broken by unimaginable losses, the seer is but a slave, subject to the whims of a master who is mad and without mercy.
Drawn together by fate, their impossible passion ignites. But will that be enough given the dangerous secrets each keeps from the other? Or will mistrust and the desire for revenge threaten to unravel the powerful magic that binds them?
I am not going to lie, internets…most of the ARCs I get are from friends (holla Elizabeth!) or friends of friends. This is the first time that a virtual stranger has contacted me and asked me to read an ARC.
Wait. That is not true. This is the first time I’ve gotten an ARC from a stranger that didn’t suck.
This is the second book in a series and I haven’t read the first (yet). I am assuming that some of the points I found a little rough (not as much information as I would’ve liked) were because I haven’t (yet) read the first book.
I really liked the world building for this book. Anyone who’s read any of my reviews knows that world-building is pretty much my number one requirement for a highly rated book. I love the Greek gods and always enjoy when they make an appearance in a book I’m reading. This treatment of the gods was vastly different, and it was fascinating.
I also enjoyed the diversity of character – many immortals like characters hailed from the Caribbean or deep south, while the snooty light god (and light has nothing to do with purity of soul, let me tell you) held court on a plane adjacent to Paris (city of lights, get it?). It’s not often that you get a main character from Puerto Rico, and I liked the Spanish slang and exclamations sprinkled throughout.
The character development was pretty on point. Cici’s relationship with her twin Millie, serving as “big” sister and protector, was quite realistic, never mind that they’re children of a Dark Immortal and his fated wife, Panacea (a healer of remarkable talent). Cici herself is a seer – a gift that is highly sought after by the leaders of the Light and Dark Immortals. Her kidnapping (along with her twin’s) and some immortal politicking results in her being installed as the new oracle and virtual slave in Phoebus’s (the Light Immortal leader) court.
Morpheus is a Dark Immortal – the falcon, bringer of dreams, and a very talented mercenary. Along with his younger brother, Billy, and Bacchus, they seek the Oracle to ascertain the whereabouts of Billy’s fated (and Bacchus’s daughter), Thyme. Because this is a paranormal romance, you can assume that love is in the air.
There are, of course, other very important characters – although at this time they seem universally sympathetic to our main characters. There is very little on the “bad guy” side beyond the aforementioned Phoebus and Apollyon (who plays a fairly minor role in this book), leader of the Dark Immortals.
The Small Lecture
My biggest beef with this book was the sheer amount of sexual assault. Thyme is assaulted after her capture (or so it’s implied). Cici is the constant victim of sexual assault and rape.
Over the last few years, I’ve grown increasingly sensitive to sexual assault in romance novels, having found that it is a lot more prevalent in paranormal/fantasy romance than any other romantic genre. My PSM and I started tracking it until we both (presumably) became too depressed by the reality to go on with our project. It disappoints me greatly when a book that is otherwise quite enjoyable utilizes sexual assault and rape (and casual sexism – calling a celebrity a man-eater for being a serial dater).
I believe that there are times and places were rape is a vital element of story telling. After all, it is a reality – something we see all too much of these days. It is also a much too easy trope to employ when one wishes to torture a character, particularly if that character is a woman. When a man is imprisoned and tortured in a novel, he is seldom raped.
In fact, here are some other ideas on how to torture a person without raping them:
My discomfort with the sexual assault situation aside, this was a very engaging book with a well-built world and well-crafted characters. I will fully admit to being a lot more sensitive to sexual assault situations in books than most people, so it may not strike you as hard as it struck me.
I’m still going to buy the first book, watch for the next (cliffhanger!), and pull some more of Michelle’s books onto my shelf, because she is a good writer who crafted a very interesting story.
I give this 3.5 stars (- 0.5 stars for the aforementioned issues), and rounded up to four.
I received a free advanced reading copy from the author, which in no way influenced my review.