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Grimm, Reviews

Would you like some romance with your fantasy?

19.08.09 | Comment?

Supernatural romances are super hot right now, for a few reasons (well, four plus a couple of movies), and there are quite a few trilogies making waves. I’ve taken a deep breath and read three of them: The Mortal Instruments trilogy, by Cassandra Clare; Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr (there’s another one to come next year); and A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray.

The Hype
There’s internet hype a-plenty for Cassandra Clare (see here, and here for example). Fragile Eternity had a book trailer (you can visit it at YouTube here: I won’t embed it because I’m really not sure I approve of book trailers, since you don’t get to imagine what characters look like and all. He’s no Seth, that’s for sure) that made people oo and ah. Being smart writers, they all blog.

The World
Set in the late 19th Century and mostly in England, Libba Bray’s story is a bit different from the others; Melissa Marr and Cassandra Clare’s books are more urban fantasy. While MM’s books focus solely on faeries, CC’s contain basically every supernatural fantastical creature there is – a melting pot/United Nations sort of deal, which is apt since home base is New York.

The Writing
Libba Bray’s books contain a lot of dense, wordy description which is great if you love dense, wordy description but not so great if you like your books to, you know, move along at pace. The dialogue is witty (actually, witty dialogue happens in all three). As far as style goes, there’s a bit of cringing to be had in the Mortal Instruments trilogy, which needed a really good edit and didn’t get one. I got memorably fed up with being told what everyone was wearing all the time, especially in the heat of battle. Wicked Lovely (and the others by Melissa Marr) rips along at a pace similar to Stephenie Meyer’s books, so don’t start it late at night.

The Most Perfectest Man Ever?
Tell me I’m making generalisations if you like, but there’s hot competition at the moment over who can write the perfect man. In this instance we have in the red corner… Seth (WL etc). Seth could make you love multiple piercings. He’s arty, intelligent, attractive, sensitive, calm, patient, doesn’t think you’re mad if you tell him you see faeries, and (most importantly) has definition in his arms. In the blue corner there’s Kartik (AGATB etc), who also has definition, is the last word in mysterious, doesn’t mind that the girl in question has tendencies towards being a raving feminist ahead of her time, and to top it off, said girl’s friends all think he’s an exotic beauty. Finally, in the annoying corner there’s Jace (MI), although he still manages to impress the odd reader.

The Romance
There’s romance, for sure, in varying quantities, using the tried and true love triangle formula. Gemma (AGATB) must choose between traditional Victorian courtship with the dashing Simon or her less conventional dealings with the aforementioned Kartik. Ash (WL) is a really sensible girl, which is just as well when she’s faced with a choice between a beautiful faery king who’s out to claim her and, well, Seth. Clary (MI) has the option of Simon the friend or Jace, shadowhunter extraordinaire, whose relationship to Clary takes many, many twists and turns. Simmering stuff.

The Big Showdown
There’s gruesomeness to be had. Not to give too much away, The Sweet Far Thing ends with a beautifully described apocalyptic battle to end all battles (this really isn’t giving too much away, honest), complete (possibly) with some tear jerking moments. Cassandra Clare worries a bit too much about what people are wearing, as mentioned earlier, but she’s not scared of injuring her characters which is good, because you’re more likely to worry for their safety. The big showdown is yet to happen in the Wicked Lovely world: will have to wait for next year.

If you love books in this genre there is a whole heap more out there, for example:

Evermore, by Alyson Noel. Psychic girl falls in love with an immortal boy.

Need, by Carrie Jones. Werewolves and pixies.

Wings, by Aprilynne Pike. Faeries again, this is the first of a planned series of four.

Impossible, by Nancy Werlin. Read a review at teenreads.com.

Read all this? Well Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is coming soon. Grace is a girl, haunted by a yellow eyed wolf; Sam is a yellow-eyed werewolf… (here’s an excerpt from teenreads.com).

Also, don’t forget Holly Black’s modern faerie tales.

ps “supernatural romance” isn’t a catchy enough name we decided, so what to call these books? Well, here were some suggestions (not all strictly relevant): supernatromance, phantasromance, zom-rom, boo woo, hell-odrama, vampmance, fantmance, horromance, creepy-crawly-lovey-dovey, unexplained flingnomena


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