Ready for something a little different? Then settle in with this latest fascinating adventure from the talented Ms. Holly that even includes flying carpets and things that like bling.
The one constant in this story that repeats itself in numerous ways is the phrase, ‘things are not always as they appear’. No less than four times did I find my jaw hitting the floor with stunned amazement. One of my kids walked in within seconds of one diabolical event occurring and he laughed at me. He said I looked silly with my mouth hanging open. I couldn’t help it. I never expected what happened to happen, especially so early in the book. So yes, this novel can surprise a reader.
Even though I used the tag BDSM I need to clarify that this isn’t a story about the lifestyle. It has elements of bondage and a few very heated and sexy scenes resulting from it but it’s not the nature of Arcadius or Elyse’s relationship. They both take turns being strong and on top so it’s a balanced sexual relationship. The best part about their coupling is the very inventive, unique and really cool way the hero protects the heroine from pregnancy. I am very sure that if that were real, it would be the first and last method for everyone. Elyse’s comment upon discovering the technique did surprise a giggle out of me.
The world building for this tale must have been a challenge for the author. There are at least three conflicts dogging the hero and heroine on a couple of fronts. There is their growing relationship, which was nice; Elyse’s horrid family, very sad and twisted; the curse, with a unique and sick way of creating it, and something else I never expected – split personalities. Some of the action takes place in the heroine’s plain and the rest in Arcadius’. Both are fraught with peril and it was fascinating to watch them navigate their challenges.
One aspect of the story was theology – djinni style. Ms. Holly fabricated a unique blend of the fantastical with pragmatic but basic Christianity and merged it with magic. The result was a mishmash that played well into the story and the world she created. It makes more of the impossible, possible.
Another unique element of the telling of this tale was its delivery. Ms. Holly chose to tell the history of some of the secondary characters through storytelling within the story and Joseph, Arcadius’ friend and servant, acted as bard. Even though I was 100% invested in Arcadius and Elyse’s relationship, the lengthy breaks in between, although quite informative and interesting in and of themselves, didn’t do it for me. They are important to what will happen in the future so it was worth including, and I understood their value, but I was much more interested in the main protagonists and things that happened to them than I was about anyone else. Call me shallow.
What worked for me and never missed a beat was the romance between Arcadius and Elyse. I liked how their attraction grew and the things they said and did to make it grow. They are a wonderful couple but they have a lot more to get through than just what I was presented in this book. That was made crystal clear by the time I got to the last three chapters in the book. There is more good stuff in the offing and the next adventure with the djinn promises to be even more exciting than this one.
Tales of the Djinn: The Guardian is a bold start to a new series. There are enough tantalizing and captivating ideas, plots and promises presented in this first book that it has guaranteed my commitment to buying the next adventure. The epilogue alone stunned me and left me with many more questions than answers. If I were a fish, I’d already be in the pan; that’s how hooked I am. Ms. Holly has a reputation for delivering stories that make an impression, that entertain and makes a reader hot under the collar. The tradition remains unbroken. But remember, things are not always as they seem. Be ready to be pleasantly surprised.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.