Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Genre: Epic Historical Fantasy / Paranormal Romance
Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words
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“Vera Nazarian is a two-time Nebula Award Nominee, award-winning artist, and member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a writer and reader with a penchant for moral fables and stories of intense wonder, true love, and intricacy.”
Ms. Nazarian “lives in a small town in Vermont, and uses her Armenian sense of humor and her Russian sense of suffering to bake conflicted pirozhki and make art.” The second book in her Cobweb Trilogy, Cobweb Empire, is available now and Cobweb Forest will be released this December. To learn more about Ms. Nazarian check out her website.
This book and I got off on a rocky start. The premise sounded intriguing to me so I picked it up. The problem I had with it was the over description of every tiny detail. I got lost in all the words, they were good words, well written poetic words. There was just too much time spent on every detail and my head was swimming with unnecessary words that didn't move the story forward. Three different kingdoms in the Imperial Realm are examined in minute detail.
In Lethe, the old Queen lies on her deathbed unable to die. Death appears and states his plea for his Cobweb Bride to the Prince. The Prince sends out a decree in search of the Cobweb Bride, all families must send a daughter of marriageable age to Death's Keep that stands in the Northern Forest.
On the frozen lake of Merlait to the north there is a battle raging between the forces of Duke Ian Chidair, known as Hoarfrost, and the armies of his neighbor, the Duke Vitalio Goraque. From a single moment on all the causalities become the walking dead, including both Dukes. Hoarfrost is unwilling to give up his status because he is undead and begins a campaign to capture the jail the girls who have been ordered to seek Death's Keep in an attempt to prevent Death from finding his Cobweb bride as a way to keep his dead self undead.
Death's third stop was a poor dwelling in the Dukedom of Goraque where a peasant woman lay dying. Percy's grandmother, whose whole history is given. Persephone is described as a somewhat dull-witted, slow, sickly anemic, plain, unbecoming, and willful. She becomes our heroine as she leads a band of girls to Death's Keep. This small band of girls is where the story finally gets interesting as we follow them on their trek to Death's Keep. They are joined by her Imperial Highness, the Infanta Claere Liguon, the princess and Heir to the Realm, who has been murdered by Marquis Vlau Fiomarre. The Marquis, in a twisted sense of duty, also accompanies Claere in order to protect her. I found this Stockholm type syndrome to be quite disturbing as they are becoming quite fond of each other.
Here is an example of one sentence that shows the author’s writing style and the relationship developing between the living Vlau and the dead Claere.
And now, here he was, and here she was, and it seemed at rather odd moments that the carriage was closing in on him, on her, and they were sharply aware of one another again, relieving that moment of greatest closeness and intensity, the stroke of death, the drawing of life that bound them together.
Hmmm, I seem to have captured a typo here also. I do believe the word “relieving” is meant to be “reliving”. There are a small number of proofing errors that didn't detract from the story overall. What was aggravating was the loose story ends that were not addressed. I can only suppose that they will be picked up and explained later in the trilogy, but with as much jumping around as there is in this book why even bring them up at this point at all?
My assessment is that as the author became more comfortable with her story the writing improved. I think much of the set-up could have been handled in flashbacks and improved the flow of the story. Ms. Nazarian also took an interesting aspect of death to the extreme by including crops and livestock in her no-death scheme. As the stores of past harvests were depleted the newest grains became tasteless and the meat from the livestock never died or cooked properly. It was all rather chilling to read.
What will be interesting now is to see how our heroine Percy, who develops a strange connection with Death himself after reaching the Keep, goes about finding the true Cobweb Bride. It seems that Death can't see her because she contains a piece of him, however, Percy will be able to. Out of her small group she is the only one who could actually see Death and communicate with him. She is not the incompetent that her family saw her as. She has caught the eye of Beltain, the son of the Duke known as Hoarfrost. The quest for the Cobweb Bride is now on with Percy leading the way and Beltain at her side.
Originally written for Awesome Trilogies and Series book blog.
There are a small number of proofing errors.
Rating: *** Three Stars