|Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A Jane-Austin-inspired romance mounted within a sword/sorcery/dragon fantasy. Good romance, shame about the fantasy.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: February 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
Prince Corin has been bewitched by the dragons, something he'll forget until the time is right for him to free the fire breathers from enslavement to Emperor Hadon of Mycene. It doesn't stop there though - that's not all he's been bewitched by. The commoner Tam happens to be attending the summer court at his palace; a house party for unmarried debs to find the husband of their parents' dreams. Tam isn't actually looking but Corin finds her anyway. However their world doesn't run as smoothly as their hearts: war is about to start, murderous treachery stalks the palace and Tam has visions she can't explain. Although as time goes on their purpose becomes clearer. Tam and Corin realise that their reason for being together extends beyond love – they've been brought together to save the world.
American writer Anne Leonard's debut novel is inspired by none other than Jane Austin. Think Lizzie Bennett and Mr Darcy (without their resistance to the inevitable) and you have Tam and Corin. As a romance it's a lovely idea that works really well. In fact as a romance it could be a 5* novel. Unfortunately it's placed in the middle of a fantasy tale that isn't as perfect, the problems being due to viewpoints.
The novel is Corin/Tam-centric to the extent that we only follow them around and don’t go anywhere they're not. Therefore we hear about action in which they're not involved through conversations or messengers. The result is that although we warm to them as people, we sometimes find it hard to share their sense of peril because we haven't been shown the dark side.
For instance, instead of being told that thousands of enemy troops are mobilising, it would help to spend some time in the enemy camps, meeting the evil dictators. As it was, if anything good or bad happened to the baddies, I personally felt so far away as to be emotionally disengaged from their fates. Similarly it's hard to feel for Corin's hostaged sister without meeting her.
The romance on the other hand is nicely paced and we really feel the tingle as our heroes from opposite ends of society meet and gel. There's tension as Corin and Tam try to keep their secret from gossiping guests once the summer ball approaches (in a prom night as much as Pride and Prejudice way) and I for one was willing them on.
Anne proves that she can write action and excitement as well as a love story when we're placed in the midst of it. The clues are in the gradual build up from the beginning and how she teases with hinted questions plus set pieces like the dragon fight at the end and the corridor scene when Tam witnesses something messy. It just would have been nice to have been this involved each time something of importance happened. Unless of course…
If this is a stand-alone adventure, then it's only half way there. If, on the other hand, this is a set-up for a series then sparse adventure could be excused in the light of what may follow in the next volume. If it is indeed a 'first of…', then I must admit to leaning forward in anticipation. Anne has the talent to draw us into the action while still demonstrating romantic sensitivity so if the next book allows us to experience the whole story, it would crash through the 5* ceiling without even stopping to take a breath.
We'd like to thank Viking for providing us with a copy for review.
Further Reading: If this appeals, then we have no hesitation in pointing you towards a classic fantasy/romance; yes, The Princess Bride by William Goldman. If you like a fantasy romp with a little less of the love stuff, we suggest Herald of the Storm by Richard Ford and/or Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan.
You can read more book reviews or buy Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard at Amazon.com.
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