Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christmas Carroll by Leanna Renee Hieber

midwinter fantasy cover

In which the author Leanna Renee Hieber endeavors, in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put her readers out of humour....

When we last left The Guard--a group of seven people who keep the "Whisper-world" and "real world" separated--in The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, everyone had lost their powers but was happily paired up--even Michael and Rebecca.  But how?  Why?  A Christmas Carroll explains exactly that.

I have to admit I came into this story with two major biases:  one, I never liked Rebecca that much.  I was totally okay with her being pathetically in love with Professor Alexi forever.  And two, even if she did fall in love with someone else, I couldn't see it being with Michael.  Alexi is the leader of The Guard; Elijah is the class clown; and Michael is just... the nice guy.  Nice. Safe. Boring.  Could someone who had carried a hopeless torch for Alexi for nearly her entire life really ever be attracted to someone like Michael?  I was doubtful.

Hieber, however, managed it.  She convinced me Michael was romantic hero material and that he and Rebecca belonged together in one hundred pages, and she did it in a way I never would have expected.  Á la Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Rebecca and Michael are taken on journeys into their respective pasts by their recently deceased friend and colleague, Jane.  Along the way they have a chance to repair the past and start anew in the present.

This isn't a perfect book--for about the first half I felt like I kept waiting for the story to start, and the conclusion was so sweet I thought I might have gotten a cavity--but it succeeds in its central purpose.  And I continue to be impressed by Hieber's writing.  Michael and Rebecca spend very little time together in the course of the narrative, which seems antithetical to a romance; but Hieber uses it as a creative way to bring them together. 

She's also writing much more lyrical prose than I recall from her earlier workTake the first sentence from the prologue, for example:  "Three spirits murmured to each other, standing in the luminous Liminal that separated the waiting Whisper-world from the dazzling, drawing light of the Great Beyond."  That's a lot of alliteration!  The entire story isn't that heavily poetical, but it does set the tone for the rest of the narrative.  Hieber is clearly expanding her repertoire on how to tell a story, not just what to tell, and overall I found it very effective.

I would definitely recommend this novella to anyone who likes the Percy Parker books, and am looking forward to seeing what the author does with her next novel!  Thank you so much to Hieber for sending me a galley copy of this anthology to read.

And if this review has confused the heck out of you, I suggest you pick up The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy ParkerImmediately.

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