3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Seven Times A Woman (Paperback)The spirited kitsune Rei-Rei is content in her life as the lover of the god Inari, but the goddess Benzai-ten has other plans for her. Rei-Rei's assignment is "to tame a dragon," namely the arrogant Sha Tano, who lives as a human lord in feudal Japan. The task will take many years, and is fraught with danger from Sha Tano's twin brother and from their own inner demons.
The title, Seven Times a Woman, refers to the seven times Rei-Rei is born into human form and crosses paths with Sha Tano. Sara M. Harvey does a great job with Rei-Rei, making her recognizably the same charming, stubborn character in each life while also showing how she's different each time depending on the circumstances of her birth and upbringing.
As for Sha Tano, he's a dark, complex character and I confess I didn't like him for a lot of the time. During Rei-Rei's first incarnation, Sha Tano does something horrible, and when he repents of it, I was worried that *that* was the whole redemption arc, even though I wasn't that far into the book--after what he had done, I wasn't quite ready to accept him as worthy of Rei-Rei despite his repentance. He just kept doing things that made me mad and I hoped I wasn't supposed to love him yet! It was a really gratifying feeling when enough of these behaviors added up and I realized that he was still spiraling downward in some ways, that he still had more of his redemption arc ahead of him. The lesson Sha Tano was supposed to learn, and the desired outcome of his time with Rei-Rei, were not necessarily what one might expect. By the end I did feel compassion for him and felt like he had finally "gotten it."
His brother, Kage, is far more complex than he appears at first glance, and his role in the story is also not what you might expect. Inari, Rei-Rei's first love, isn't on-screen much but I loved him every time he was.
Harvey had me in tears with the way everything turned out in the end. It's fitting, and beautiful. I was reminded a bit of Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest, in that the heroine is put through unimaginable tribulations that make the brighter moments all the sweeter; and I also think this is what Sara Douglass's Troy Game series might have been (except it's just one book) if the last incarnation in Troy Game hadn't messed everything up. I was swept away and put through the emotional wringer by this story. Loved it.