Last year we raved about The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, the debut novel from Leanna Renee Hieber and first in the Strangely Beautiful trilogy. We were captured by the story, the characters, the writing…the whole package! The second book in the trilogy, The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, is due April 27, 2010, and we’ve been given the chance to read and review it in advance. Please indulge us while we give you our thoughts, and if you need something to tide you over until the new Sookie novel lands on shelves, let us recommend Miss Persephone Parker.
When The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker arrived in my mailbox, I was nervous. I almost didn’t want to read it. You know how you fall in love with a book or a TV show or a movie, then the sequel or second season comes out and it’s not good or, even worse, just mediocre? I adored The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and I really, really, really didn’t want to be disappointed with the second installment of the story.
Clearly I should have more faith in author Leanna Renee Hieber. Book two of the trilogy is as beautifully written and intricately plotted as the first, providing a gripping story that’s alternately heart warming, thrilling, sad, funny, romantic, and generally wonderful. Our heroine, the ghostly-pale Percy sheds the “Miss” toward the beginning of the novel when she weds her soulmate, broodingly sexy Professor Alexi Rychman. (I mentally cast Richard Armitage as Alexi; imagine my delight when Leanna revealed that he would be her first pick for a movie version!) After their honeymoon, full of tenderness and humor, Percy and Alexi return to Athens Academy where Alexi will continue teaching mathematics and Percy’s gift for languages will be put to use with translations.
Despite Percy’s wedded bliss, Darkness continues the quest to destroy the world and retrieve his own soulmate, drawing her and The Guard into another battle. This time members of the Old Guard, in ghost form, are on hand to assist and an epic showdown ensues between the forces of Light and Dark. I liked the use of the Old Guard to shed some light on members of the New Guard, providing some insight into their powers. We also learn more about the Guard as people with glimpses into their private thoughts, their pasts, and their motivations. It’s a unique book that keeps you entranced by the leads, yet hungry for more of the secondary characters, and this is one of those books. Leanna must have read our minds, because she is working on a prequel right now, due for release in 2011, that will chronicle the Guard prior to Miss Percy’s arrival, plus a novella coming this October.
Reviewing the Strangely Beautiful series is such a challenge because it not only defies description (is there a word for romance-mystery-Victorian-mythological-gothic-adventure?), but the story is so densely woven that to reveal almost any detail is to spoil something else. Here’s the gist: I cannot recommend this book, this series, or this author enough. If you love a good story, if exquisite writing is your thing, if you want to laugh and cry and feel when you read, then join me in being completely lost to Miss Percy.
The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, the second in a trilogy that began with The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, by Leanna Renee Hieber, hits book stores on April 27th. I had the honor of being able to read an advanced copy of the book a couple of weeks ago and I couldn’t wait to talk about it. Have you ever read a book that literally filled you up? This book has everything to meet your literary needs: mystery, joy, sweetness, terror and sadness. All the characters return from Strangely Beautiful and a couple new ones are introduced. In fact, the story begins with these new characters.
Beatrice is the leader of the Old Guard; Alexi’s equal, in fact. It falls to her to make sure the New Guard is ready for the war that is to come against the Darkness, which was prophesied in the first book. The story begins by overlapping the end of the first book, but from Bea’s point of view. As the story unfolds, Percy is introduced to The Guard and welcomed into their fold. Then we move into Percy and Alexi’s wedding, which brings out some strong emotions from the women of the group, and some sober thoughtfulness from the men.
Hieber creates such a beautiful picture of that wedding as to leave the reader breathless. But that is nothing compared to the wedding night. Her love for these characters shines through as she tenderly and sweetly illustrates this precious and much anticipated moment for Alexi and Percy. I think this was my most favorite part of this book.
As man and wife, Alexi and Percy are faced with many challenges, not the least of which is the coming war. Percy does a lot of growing up, but Alexi struggles with his new role as husband. Too often he rules over Percy still as her teacher, treating her like a child and almost appearing to prefer her that way. There were many times I shook my fist in frustration at him, and that’s saying a lot because I have such a crush on the man. In defense of his behavior, I have to say that his love for Percy has broken through so many of his defenses, and he’s gone from being this brooding, stern, dark tower of strength, to a concerned, fearful, almost bewildered, man in love. Percy struggles with her power and her own insecurities, but a journey into her past helps give her the sure footing she will need to accomplish the work she was destined for.
While the newlyweds honeymoon, the Guard deals with some personal challenges that have been brewing for some time. Loyalties are tested, tempers flare, social boundaries are questioned, leaving the reader a little fearful as to the Guard’s readiness to defend their world against the Darkness that continues to grow and an old enemy that is gathering strength. The story’s climax is everything you could expect from Hieber. Terrifying and heartbreaking and as is always the case in war, costly.
Leanna Renee Hieber is an artist and her words paint masterpieces, but don’t take my word for it. Read both books yourself and see if you can escape her magic. I’m betting you’ll be just as enchanted as I am, but fair warning – Alexi is mine, stolen from Ms. Hieber when she wasn’t looking.
The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker arrives in bookstores Tuesday, April 27, 2010. Watch for a giveaway from us on Friday, and a special treat from Leanna next week.