Longtime readers of True-Blood.net know that we’re fans of Leanna Renee Hieber‘s Strangely Beautiful series. Many of you have emailed us with thanks for recommending her books and share our enchantment with her writing. The third book in the series is due May 2, and we were once again given the gift of reading it in advance. We know you have another book on the Must Read list for that week, but we highly recommend adding The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess to your list as well.
The paradox of successfully introducing fully realized characters to your readers is that while it allows the author to focus on the drama, romance, friendships, and action in the present, eventually the readers begin to wonder where those characters came from and what they were doing before page one. In The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess, a prequel to The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, author Leanna Renee Hieber answers questions that readers have wondered about since Alexi first swirled his black robes into Athens Academy.
The easiest synopsis for this volume in the Strangely Beautiful series is that it’s Miss Percy Parker’s origin story. And yet, if you’re familiar with Leanna’s work, you know that it must be so much more. The reader does indeed witness the birth of Miss Percy, but rather than a starting point, it’s the culmination of an intricate story that involves the goddess Persephone, a war brewing between the denizens of the Whisper-World and the human world, six young people in Cairo who are called to serve as the Guard, and the formation of the Guard we meet twenty years later with Alexi as leader.
Leanna’s exquisite language, a hallmark of her writing, guides the reader across continents and through dimensions. What could have been a perfunctory, utilitarian tale of the Guard before Alexi’s Guard instead becomes another engrossing, heartbreaking, uplifting story of disparate people drawn together for a cause bigger than they can conceive. Beatrice, leader of the Cairo Guard, should be familiar to readers; she has a substantial role in The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker. Her second-in-command, Ibrahim, is Intuition who has suffered loss and heartache. Together with the four other members of the Cairo Guard, they are tasked with preparing the way for Persephone to reunite with her true love, Phoenix.
Wearied by centuries in the Whisper-World, married against her will to Darkness, Persephone is weakening. The time has come to set plans in motion for the final showdown. Uncertainty, mistrust, and fear plague them all, but in the end, faith is what’s left and faith is what makes the difference.
This installment of the series is somewhat different in tone and plotting than the first two books, but Leanna wove so many elements from this prequel into those prior books that readers should have no trouble finding plenty of touchstones. References to the Guard’s work prior to Miss Percy’s arrival at Athens Academy, questions about her own past, and the mystery of the goddess herself from those previous books – so many of these are explained or witnessed in the prequel that it will spark the desire to re-read the earlier novels to find all the “Easter eggs”.
The Perilous Prophecy is so much more than a prequel, though. Getting to know the Cairo Guard is almost as fun as getting to know the London Guard, and watching the goddess struggle with the realization that she must become mortal is riveting. Watching her fall in love with Alexi, her beloved Phoenix reborn, adds to the beauty that is Miss Percy and Alexi’s later romance. In the end, this prequel provides answers while also telling another intriguing story in the Strangely Beautiful world.
When Leanna told us she was planning on writing this prequel, I knew it was going to be something epic. I love history, and knowing that she was going to tell the story of how this whole journey began thrilled me to no end. When she teased that we were going to get the full back story on Persephone and Phoenix, I knew she was going to break my heart, and she did.
Leanna tells a love story with exquisite detail, examining every nuance and bringing us into the story as if it were our own. I felt Persephone’s loneliness and her longing for her love. Her joy and excitement, when finding Alexi, became something tangible.
The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess is not all heartbreak and sadness, though. The story is peppered with just enough whimsy to keep it from being too heavy. Mixed into all of this is the element of horror in the form of Darkness and the Gorgon. Although, I have to admit to feeling pity for Darkness at times.
Leanna makes us love her characters and she doesn’t overwhelm us with an abundance of new characters. I loved that each character had a specific purpose, setting off events that would happen in the two other books. Leanna fleshes out each character so well, making it seem like she’s taken us by the hand and introduced us to some of her closest friends.
I could go on and on about this book, but I don’t want to ruin this journey for readers, so I’ll just sum up by saying that Leanna has another hit on her shelf, and if you are looking for something to read, pick this up. Don’t just read it, let yourself become part of this world.
The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess arrives in bookstores May 2, and we’re giving away a copy to two lucky readers!
Win A Copy Of The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess
Ready to add another brilliant read to your bookshelf? We’re giving away two (2) copies of The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess to two lucky True-Blood.net fans. Here’s how to enter:
- Leave a comment below telling us if you’ve read any of the Miss Percy books, and if so, who your favorite character is and why;
- Be sure to use a valid email address;
- One entry per person;
- Comments must be posted by 11:59PM Pacific on Thursday, April 21, 2011 to be eligible;
- Two (2) winners will be drawn randomly from eligible entries and notified via email.
***The contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winners: Alison & Dovile!***