Science fiction and fantasy
by Shona Husk
The catalyst to the drama is Brixen's forthcoming wedding. Brixen has already gone through one wife, and the identity of his new bride sends Haidyn into turmoil. He's afraid of what the corrupt, sick Lawman will do to her. But it's a challenge to help her out without exposing his magic, endangering his co-workers, or getting her into more trouble with her husband. And while this is going on Reseda is in a state of political unrest as the conflict between the Union and the FAA heats up.
It's a deliciously tense, fast-paced story. The cover image and the concept led me to expect that it would be much raunchier than it is. The story is actually more gross and uncomfortable when it comes to the sexual scenes, which are mostly presented as acts of violence and control rather than something we're supposed to be titillated by. Haidyn is very moral, and he's even a bit of a goody two shoes. He has qualms about using his powers, and he's not interested in sex unless it's with his true love. So Dark Secrets is quite sweet because of its main character, even though the villain brings a lot of depravity and nastiness to the plot.
I found some of the prose a bit clumsy, or baffling. In the first chapter Haidyn states "I charged like a raxen in heat for the privilege of walking through my door." I can only imagine a raxen is a creature that uses gold as part of its mating ritual, or it's some kind of banker. It's mentioned a couple of times, but never explained.
Dark Secrets is short at 96 pages on my ereader, but I was impressed by how much movement Shona Husk managed to pack into that space, particularly in a secondary world fantasy where we start off knowing nothing about the political scene and environment. Haidyn is a decent character and I wanted him to succeed, so I enjoyed this novella. But I'd like to know what a raxen is.
22nd January 2013
Review © Ros Jackson
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