Friday, October 12, 2012

FURY'S FIRE

Review of FURY'S FIRE by LISA PAPADEMETRIOU
(sequel to SIREN'S STORM, review based on an advance reading copy)

Starting FURY'S FIRE felt distinctive from starting any other "second book in a series." When I considered why, I realized most authors leave, if not a cliffhanger, an established setup/problem for the next book. Sure, we have a sense of the main conflict in FURY'S FIRE, but little more than a sense. After the dramatic conclusion in SIREN'S STORM, we know Gretchen isn't quite human, but we don't know exactly what she is (the smart money's on "Fury," though) or what this twist means. Even if we run with the idea that Gretchen's obviously a Fury, that territory isn't nearly as well-charted as sirens/mermaids, leaving the reader with much fuzzier predictions about Gretchen’s potential gifts, curses, capabilities, background, etc.

Once again, Papademetriou takes a realistic approach to fantasy. The story’s shrouded in mystery and suspense, but the fantasy element remains downplayed while the focus steers towards emotions and powerful sensory detail. I read plenty of authors skilled with sensory description and plenty of works that make me pause my reading and admire an especially beautiful or accurate portrayal of a minute detail, but every now and then you discover an author who raises the bar higher than you knew possible. Lisa Papademetriou and Janni Lee Simner hold the record for best sensory detail I've read, both able to bring the world to life in my mind with impressive layers and depth. I'm not just talking about liking the book, or understanding or relating to characters' emotions, or picturing the setting in my mind. Papademetriou and Simner are the only two authors who can actually make me feel like I'm there; from smelling the air to hearing inflection in dialogue, both these authors know how to say a lot with few words.

The romance in this story also feels satisfyingly different. The slow build creates a stronger sense of genuine, layered love than shallow or temporary infatuation. Love in literature can often be extremely demanding, perhaps for drama and conflict, but what's between Will and Gretchen feels more healing than draining, a refreshing change! Also I'm a big believer that the best romantic relationships have a strong friendship underneath the romance and Will and Gretchen fit that model.

It's easy to say that the story builds to an intense climax, but that's not quite right. "Building" or "climbing" suggests a metaphorical hike up towards the peak of a cliff where the climax takes place. Rather we meander around the base of the mountain for most of the book until all of a sudden, the ground falls away and you're on the cliff with no recollection of how you got there. Yes, this style doesn't work for some people, but I personally loved it and found the abrupt, breakneck endings of both books unusual and fun. When much of literature can be summarized in trends, I always admire authors who do what feels right for their story.

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