- File Size: 1713 KB
- Print Length: 540 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: April 27, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07CG36L43
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,669 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The secondary flipped-Cinderella trope is well done, occasionally amusingly lampshaded (look it up on TV Tropes if you don't know what that means). The family is all still reeling from the death of her second husband, and coping with the straitened finances that resulted from how he died. The kids include quiet math whiz Alicia and colorfully flamboyant bully-target Joshua (Marcia's children with the first husband she lost), and pretty Cindy (her second husband's daughter, spoiled by her snobbish and flighty paternal aunt). Immature Cindy has become convinced that Marcia is an evil stepmother, but Marcia's really just trying to do her best for all three of her teenagers.
The Night Elves are a unique new approach to blood-drinkers (Don't say "vampires", and especially don't expect the sexy-alpha-predator sort you find in recent fiction trends!). The hero, a millennia-old troubleshooter, in addition to fitting the classic Clark Kent/Sir Percy Blakeney deliberately-overlookable-and-underestimatable model I happen to love, is another dedicated parent, determined to save his waning race.
It's really cute and clever how in Night Elves' mental imagery and metaphors, "dark" (and "bloody") things are good, and "bright" things are bad. It's also funny to have a handsome, young-looking guy whose tech-savvy and other attitudes are often closer to a stubborn, elderly grandfather's, even if he does consider himself one of the most adaptable of his people. The relationship-dynamics are interesting and problematic: Night Elves generally find humans *SPOILER*(humans potentially of either gender) *END SPOILER* more attractive than their own people, and blood-bonding has a sexual component, but the two races are NOT interfertile.
There's a good balance of realistic emotional complications (just because you're attracted to someone doesn't mean all the other priorities and principles in your life fall aside) and exciting action conflicts. One global revelation causes a true dilemma of conflicting loyalties and doubts, added to Marcia's reasonable misgivings about tying her life to Dare, who has kept some pretty big secrets of his own.
N.b., said revelation may have already been known to readers who started with CG's earlier "I BRING THE FIRE" books, unlike me. I decided to dive into this story because it's described as a stand-alone, i.e., less commitment than a long series before getting resolution, and sounded interesting.
I did enjoy it (even if the tenses used kept making me mentally stumble), and the ending is satisfying and hopeful. It'd be interesting to see more of how things unfold, but it's not required. However, I definitely was at a bit of a handicap getting a handle on this world's twists on Norse and fey mythology, and learning all the secondary characters w/o knowing any more of their circumstances than the leads do. Though Dare can perceive more about the magical forces involved, even he, as a newly-arrived ambassador, doesn't have the backstories or know these people yet.
As for the editing, I didn't catch any places where tenses were *misused* rather than merely awkward (IMHO), but there *were* more than a handful of other things I noted, though most of them didn't much impair my enjoyment of the characters, plot, and moments of humor. I wish there were an easy way to share Kindle annotations directly with authors, since indy e-published books can often be corrected. I won't list all the minor goofs here, though, because I don't like what I've heard from other authors re. the draconian and too-hasty way Amazon handles such reports. There's only one error that's at the content level, not line editing: the same observation (re. why Marcia, Alicia, and Joshua were invited to a party) was made on two consecutive pages. See the Goodreads version of my review, if such things as typos and grammar-nitpicking matter to you.
One not-really-an-error that gave me a bit of a problem was that the author named the more-than-he-seems Chicago mayor "Steve Rogers", when he's far from the white-bread Captain America. It kept making me do a double-take, and there's zero in-text mention of the coincidence. In other words, the ... what would you call it, genre blindness? is inconsistent: Harry Potter books and/or movies apparently exist, since there's a (misspelled) reference to Voldemort, but not *decades* of Captain America comics and movies? Again, maybe it was already addressed in IBtF, but it felt odd here. Or maybe Ms. Gockel just didn't know or remember Cap's real name when she first created this character??
Okay, enough of that. My last comment is that the story ends at 94%, followed by not only an excerpt of the other AFTER THE FIRE stand-alone story (which I want to read!) but also, *past* the excerpt, a brief GUIDE TO NAMES AND PLACES! I'm glad I didn't exit the book without going all the way and discovering it, but I wish I'd noticed it in the Table of Contents, since it probably would have come in handy as I was reading!
While this is a stand alone story, I strongly believe that you will enjoy and understand this story better if you read the rest of the series first. Why do I mention this? Some of the main characters from the I Bring the Fire series are now relegated to more minor roles. You will better understand their motivations and behaviors in the context of this story.
I love that one of the main characters is Marcia, an older widow, who has many of the same insecurities woman of this age faces when they are alone... and the tendency to disbelieve what is standing in front of her. She is a great character in that she is not perfect - she just tries to do the best that she can with what life throws at her! The other characters are wonderfully fleshed out in both her and Dare's families. No one is perfect... and you have quite an array of people making this story even richer. Why, even the Night Elf royalty stubbornly clinging to their "superiority" while facing possible extinction is just... delicious! Watching Marcia deal with them is such a treat!
The author has these rich characters facing unimaginable situations. They show us their feelings as they face the mundane to the dangerous... and they even learn a little about themselves in the process.
Besides Norse mythology, we see references to fairly tales... the classics... and even modern stories we all have read and loved! While the mixture seems impossible, Ms Gockel has them seamlessly blended together in a wonderful way that you have to read to believe! It is indeed a truly magical tale!
What more can I tell you? Well, I refuse to tell you anything to spoil the story for you - it wouldn't be fair to your reading and enjoyment. However, I can assure you that the story starts to race towards quite the climax! It will leave you breathless!
This is a great story in a wonderful series! I will b rereading this again, but I will take a more leisurely stroll this time. If you want to be swept away - this is where you need to go!
This a fresh take on the ever popular vampire story by way of Norse mythology , and it never feels tired. It's nice to have a more mature love story, especially with an immortal. Seriously, why would they always have so much in common with a teenager or very young adult? Everyone is different, but it's nice to see the dynamic of two people who are already parents relating to one another. Marcia is spunky but practical. She has a family to look out for after all. I found her very relatable. Of course there is conflict, but I like that the majority of the drama is kept to the teenagers.
I will say not absolutely everything gets neatly wrapped up by the end of the story, but it's still a satisfying end. I guess that leaves room for more stories in the future.
Personally, I reccomend reading both the short story and this longer novel. While the basics of Dare and Marcia's story are in both, there are things from the short story that we don't get to see here.
Give this series a try, it's well worth it.
Top international reviews
Marcia and Dare what a love story.
Marcia, wicked step mom, loving mother, in the end, a God killer.
Dare, unassuming Night Elf, little magic NOT! I
Great read 💖