Friday, July 09, 2010

BOOKS: Seraph of Sorrow by MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi

Although it was open-ended, I thought MaryJanice Davidson and husband Anthony Alongi had pretty well wrapped up the story of Jennifer Scales in the trilogy that started with Jennifer Scales and the Ancient Furnace, continued with Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light and finished (or so I thought) with The Silver Moon Elm.

So, I was a little surprised to find a fourth volume on the bookshelves. Seraph of Sorrows is as much of an odd duck as is the Jennifer Scales character. She's a were-dragon, with a beaststalker Mother and unique abilities, even amongst her unique kind. She can turn dragon at will, rather than only under a full moon. And she's just a teenager, but ends this book, more or less, as being the real leader amongst the dragons. During the course of the series, she's befriended (and even boy-friended) beaststalkers and even a member of the third special race, the were-arachnids. Actually, the stalkers are at war with both the dragons and the spiders.

Unlike the earlier books, which had a roughly linear narrative, despite turning back time at one point, this book resembles a secret origins issue of a comic book. All the main characters and a lot of the secondary ones are give a chance in the spotlight as we learn who they were as youths and how they came to arrive near a bridge leading into town late in this book. We learn the motivations of all of them, which leads to spending time in the minds of the evil and of the confused. While it might be necessary from the writers' perspective to know all this stuff about their characters, I'm not sure I had to know. If Davidson and Alongi were trying to get me to at least have a small bit of sympathy for the bad guys because they had it so tough growing up, they failed. This is, by far, the least enjoyable book of the set. Still worth reading, but with only a mild recommendation.

Ultimately, enough of the old dead wood is cleared away that they can start what amounts to a new series if they wish to continue with Jennifer Scales. There is a thread or two that were left dangling that allows for that. But THIS TIME, I feel the series has been wrapped up.

Then again, I thought so last year, too.

One last note. Despite this being an 'origin' issue of sorts, it's certainly NOT the place to start reading. It's a prequel wrapped up in a sequel and you need the earlier books to make sense of this multi-cornered free-for-all at the finish. I've given you the order and a recommendation you read them in order.

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