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I’ve mentioned this before, I’ll mention it again: when it comes to genres, fantasy is my true love. I was very young when I first discovered fantasy and my love of it never really left me. This is the only genre I can really say that about as I tend to go through phases with most others. I also love a bit of romance mixed in with my fantasy, so when this book was billed as a fantasy romance, I jumped at the chance to read it!
Title: The Warlock
Author: Deborah J. Lightfoot
Series: Waterspell #1
Publisher: Seven Rivers Publishing
Target Audience: Not sure, possibly YA+
Length: 375 pages
Story: Drawn into the schemes of an angry wizard, Carin glimpses the place she once called home. It lies upon a shore that seems unreachable. To learn where she belongs and how to get there, the teenage traveler must decipher the words of an alien book, follow the clues in a bewitched poem, conjure a dragon from a pool of magic -- and tread carefully around a seductive but volatile, emotionally scarred sorcerer who can't seem to decide whether to love her or kill her.
Thoughts and impressions: Well, really this first book in the trilogy is more of a fantasy than a fantasy romance, but the seeds are in place to germinate into something more. The relationship between the characters, Carin and Verek, doesn’t really grow all that much between the start of the story and the end. I would have liked to have seen a bit more evolution between them, but I will accept that that is still to come.
All throughout the book my mind was going mad with comparisons. First of all, I had Beauty and the Beast going through my head as Verek is portrayed as having a beastly personality and there is some emphasis placed on his “ruined hand” where he is missing a finger, and Carin is described as being a very bonny lass. Then we have an isolated mansion that’s fallen into decay, a small number (three) of servants, a huge library and Carin’s love of books – I think we have most of the ingredients there for Beauty and the Beast.
Some way into the book I started coming up with comparisons to Trudi Canvan’s Black Magician trilogy too. In those books Sonea is scarred of Akkarin to begin with but slowly comes to know and accept him and even to love him.
After this, Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll is introduced. The first time the title was given and the opening read out, I didn’t make the connection as it has been probably more than 15 years since I read either Alice book. To be honest, I was very surprised that the author brought our world into the mix, as for me that puts this book precariously on that precipice between what makes a fantasy novel and what’s sci-fi. I was nevertheless interested in finding out where she would take things with the relationships between worlds.
The one thing that I was not particularly keen on was the long spiels of dialogue. I’m an adherent to the saying “less is more” when it comes to dialogue as I find that whenever characters start on what are pretty much monologues, it doesn’t sound natural unless the character is presented in that way, such as Myra, Lord Verek’s housekeeper. I enjoyed her character!
This being the first book in the trilogy, I find that I’m interested in seeing this through to the end and I will be reading the other two books as my reading schedule allows.
Style: At the beginning, I found the style to be pretty rocky. I don’t know whether I just got used to it or whether the author found her writing element, but further into the book this stopped bothering me.
Final verdict: Good! It does have a lot to live up to and it didn’t reach the ranks of those fantasy greats (though to be fair, it’s hard to live up to anything if I’m comparing you with Tolkien). A very enjoyable read. 4 stars