Garet James is a jeweller inspired by the old signet ring passed on to her from her mother. As she is looking for other old rings in an antique shop, Garet is shown a box sealed using her mother’s ring and is intrigued. Opening the box for the strange old man in the antique shop sets off a chain of events that leads her from one fey creature to the next. She must find out the truth about her mother’s past and her own inheritance because Garet might be something more than human.
Lee Carroll is the pseudonym of husband and wife writing team Carol Goodman and Lee Slonimsky and ‘Black Swan Rising’ is, as far as I can tell, their first novel together. It kicks off the ‘Black Swan Rising’ trilogy featuring Garet James, the jeweller who is the latest woman to hold the title of Watchtower, guardian against evil.
‘Black Swan Rising’ does a lot of character introduction, as you’d expect from the first book in a series, but for the most part it was nicely integrated into the plot. There were a few characters who caught me by surprise, making entrances where they weren’t expected and I liked that. However, I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more depth to most of the characters. Garet herself wasn’t too bad but her relationship with the devilishly handsome Will Hughes wasn’t at all believable and this somewhat spoiled things.
I really liked the way the demons Despair and Discord were portrayed and the images of them in the fog were wonderfully vivid. There was some nice imagery in the other supernatural bits, too, and I enjoyed the detail that went in to these sections.
Unfortunately, there was never really much tension in the book and so rather than being an excellent read it was only average. It felt a bit like the authors were trying to cram in too many things and working through a checklist rather than focusing on telling the story. The vampire lover, in particular, felt like it had been shoe-horned in because that’s what was popular at the time (this was first published in 2008). I mostly wanted to skip these sections. The rest of the supernatural elements felt like they blended together well, it was just this one part that seemed out of place.
Despite a few negative points, I did enjoy reading this and completed it in just two days. Given the time taken, you’ll have worked out that it is a quick read but I think that it was about the right length for the plot it contained. I’m curious to see how the characters develop over the next two books and hope that they gain a little more depth as the plot moves forward. There is potential for this series to continue as either a supernatural romance or an urban fantasy. I know which one I’m hoping for and I look forward to seeing where they take it next.
(pub: Bantam/Transworld. 441 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-553-82557-2)
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