Book: Black Swan Rising
Author: Lee Carroll
Summary: When New York City jewelry designer Garet James stumbles into a strange antiques shop in her neighborhood, her life is turned upside down. John Dee, the enigmatic shopkeeper, asks her to open a vintage silver box for a generous sum of money. Oddly, the symbol of a swan on the box exactly matches the ring given to Garet by her deceased mother. Garet can't believe this eerie coincidence until she opens the box and otherworldly things start happening. . . . When she investigates, Garet learns that she has been pulled into a prophecy that is hundreds of years old. Opening the box has unleashed an evil force onto the streets of Manhattan. Gradually, Garet pieces together her true identity - one that her deceased mother desperately tried to protect her from. Generations of women in Garet's family, including her beloved mother, suffered and died at the hands of the prevailing evil. Does Garet possess the power to defeat this devastating force? On her journey, she will meet fey folk who walk unnoticed among the humans and a sexy vampire who also happens to be a hedge fund manager who she can't stop thinking about. Can Garet trust anyone to guide her? The fairies reveal a desire to overpower mere humans, and the seductive vampire has the power to steal the life from her body. Using her newfound powers and sharp wit, Garet will muster everything she's got to shut down the evil taking over her friends, family, New York City, and the world. - Tor, 2010.
This review will be spoiler free.
Like I said in my last review, this book didn't do much for me either. It's a shame since it's written by Carol Goodman and her husband, Lee Slonimsky. Hence the pen name, Lee Carroll. I resisted buying this book for a long time too, since I wasn't sure if I really would like it. But, due to Carol Goodman being one of the authors and my love of swans, I gave in and bought the book.
This novel is the first in a trilogy. It's the introduction to the universe Garet, short for Margaret, lives in. A young woman of twenty-six, Garet lives in penthouse of the building where her family's art gallery is housed. She also creates medallions after being inspired by her own medallion necklace inherited from her mother. She finds an antique shop after wandering around her neighborhood and is given a mysterious box by the shopkeeper, being promised a monetary payment if she succeeds. She completes the task and finds that she did more than open the door to the box, she opened the door to another society that had hid itself from her eyes.
The setting and story line is similar to what Goodman typically writes. Instead of the material being about fairy tales and mythology, the fairies and myths are real. Garet must master the elements in various encounters she has with the different creatures that are in the city. She does have a guide, however, in the form of Oberon, the same King of the Fairies as in Shakespeare's play. If you're familiar with Shakespeare's work and other fairy creatures, you may recognize some of the supernatural beings that Garet encounters. Goodman doesn't make up any new creatures to introduce, instead relying on already established mythology.
The majority of the book is spent setting up Garet's introduction to the fairy realm as well as training her to fight the evil she unwittingly unleashed when she opened the box. While her heritage is only briefly glanced over in the story, I suspect it'll be further developed in the next two books. The final climax is a little rushed and somewhat anti-climatic, but it works out so that it's not too much of an issue.
The vampire romance is, unfortunately, one of the bad parts of the book. It is rushed and there's no adequate excuse for it. There is a technicality for why the relationship progresses as fast as it did, but I still don't buy it. Even if the vampire can be excused, Garet can't. There is absolutely no reason for why she fell for this vampire as quickly as she did. The pacing could've been a lot better. The cliffhanger is mainly for the romance and, though I got the other books in the trilogy, I'm hoping they slow things down a bit so Garet can actually consider what she's doing and why she's doing it.
There is also a last minute love interest reveal that bothered me, but it ended up being a pointless revelation in terms of it being important to the plot. Garet isn't really a Mary Sue in the love department, but she's in danger of becoming one. Let's hope it doesn't turn out that way.
It was a nice book, but not one of Goodman's best. I'd be curious to know who wrote what or who contributed what so I could see which ideas were hers and which were her husband's. I would only recommend this if there was nothing better around. Hopefully the other two books are better.
Overall, I give Black Swan Rising a B-.
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