Friday, May 20, 2011

LORD OF THE WHITE HELL BOOK ONE

Review of LORD OF THE WHITE HELL BOOK ONE by GINN HALE
(part one of two in LORD OF THE WHITE HELL)

Wow! Though I read many great books, I haven't been this hooked by one for a while. I tend to stay up reading until midnight when I make myself go to sleep. Didn't work with LORD OF THE WHITE HELL! When I finished at one am, I could barely fall asleep as I wondered if there was any possible way to get the second part in the middle of the night. I resolved to buy book two first thing in the morning, only to find the bookstore sold the last copy the day before! Now I have to wait three more days to continue Kiram's story while I try to resist hunting down the customer who bought that last copy and mugging him for a book.

Kiram is the first Haldiim to attend the Cadeleonian Academy Sagrada. Though Cadeleonians often strike him as narrow-minded, he doesn't intend to turn his nose up at this opportunity. The school rooms him with a Cadeleonian student named Javier, who is feared by everyone else because of the rumors that a white hell he can’t always control curses him. Coming from a less suspicious background, Kiram isn't bothered by his roommate’s silly hell. However, his instant and only strengthening attraction to Javier does concern him, because Cadeleonian religion, unlike Haldiim culture, forbids such unions.

Hale writes really well, always more than a good start. Her carefully crafted world provides us with the right amount of detail when needed without overloading the plot with unnecessary facts. This meticulous writing made it easy to imagine the setting and probably contributed to how naturally I related to Kiram. Not only could I always picture his location, actions, and company, but more importantly I felt whatever Kiram felt.

The romance in LORD OF THE WHITE HELL hits that perfect balance between hot and steamy, and tender and affectionate. Earlier this year, I critiqued a book starring a lesbian couple for being too fixated on the fact that two women comprised the couple. If you read that and hoped for an example of a book that I think does more credit to gay couples, LORD OF THE WHITE HELL would be it. This book doesn't have any of that discouraging sense of "Gasp! Look - he's gay." Simply put, it’s an incredibly romantic story.

I enjoyed the book throughout, but the last few chapters riveted me. The intense, climatic ending is heartbreaking in a physically sickening way. I felt Kiram's pain, hurt, and disgust as though the emotions were my own, and part of why I need the next book so desperately is because I want him to find that happy ending he deserves.

Despite being fantasy, the most depressing points of the book are so emotionally impacting, because they feel so real. If you strip the fantasy elements away, what's left are raw, agonizing problems that people in our world struggle through. I honestly cannot tell whether Hale will reward her readers after some misery or if Kiram will have to work past this particular hurt and look to the future. Either way, I've found a new series to add to my favorites list.

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