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Master of Shadows by Janet Lorimer

I am very partial to fairy tale retellings. I love the unique ways modern authors come up with to treat such old stories. In particular, I have a difficult time turning away a Beauty and the Beast retelling. My favorites (Robin McKinley's Beauty and Rose Daughter) tend to be traditionally set versions of the tale. Although Alex Flinn's recent Beastly is a wonderfully modern retelling of the tale set in present-day NYC. Master of Shadows resides in a rather odd place somewhere between the two. Set "Once upon a time toward the end of the 20th century," the story is definitely set in our modern world, but Lorimer keeps places and details purposefully vague so as to retain that timeless fairy tale feel.

And it works. A bit too well. I got the feeling this book wasn't sure what it wanted to be. Fundamentally a cross between The Phantom of the Opera and the tale of Beauty and the Beast, it works really hard to be a rather creepy murder mystery as well, with the result that I felt confused and a bit jerked around for the majority of the book. I wanted to fall in love with the characters, but Louvel (the Beast) is kept at such a distance from the reader that it's difficult to care about him. All we know is he has a deep, dark secret and that he can somehow be ten places at once. Ariel (Beauty) is likable enough, but she does seem a bit more overwhelmed than I would have expected by her loss of fortune and rich fiance.

I liked that Ariel had to unravel the many threads of the mystery before she could truly understand Louvel and the motley cast of odd characters he surrounded himself with. I liked that Louvel wasn't suffering from an evil spell, but was simply a man born into a pack of troubles. I liked the frequent references to the many other fairy tales that made up the fabric of Ariel's life. I think my main concern with the story was that these two characters spent a total of five days together (a week at the most) before Ariel was unceremoniously sent back to the world. And already they're soul mates. There was no time to develop a bond. It was simply there and, apparently, unbreakable. The whole book followed that pattern. Logical, at times gruesome, explanations for everything. Until finally, there was just no "magic" left. I am a consummate willing suspender of disbelief. But, unfortunately, the whole thing was too big a leap of faith for me.

Links
Alternative Worlds Review
Breeni Books Review
Fantasy Debut Review

Comments

  1. Thanks for the mention!

    I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of the reasons I fell in love with fairy tales as a child.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You bet, Breeni. I enjoyed looking through your blog. Even though it wasn't my cuppa, I was glad to read the reasons you liked it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for linking Fantasy Debut. I have not seen your blog before; I'll have to take a look around!

    ReplyDelete
  4. No problem, Tia. I enjoyed browsing through yours and will make sure to check in regularly.

    ReplyDelete

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