by Mima, fantasy (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $6.10, ISBN 978-1-59578-402-5
Mima's Wild Within is set in the same furry fantasy world as her previous book Beast Within. If you are new to the series, I'd strongly advise you to read the previous book first if you don't want to make an effort trying to sort out the naming systems here or the culture followed by the characters here. You can sort out the information here although it will take some effort in making inferences and putting pieces of information together, but like I've said, it may be more work than you're willing to participate in.
Fortunately for me, Wild Within actually reads like a real story instead of someone's idea of an April's Fool prank. There are actually world-building here and even some character development, unlike the last book which is pretty much non-stop silly sex involving characters with names like Freezha and lines like "Believe it! Freezha loves Vyur! Say it! Say it!" The heroine in this one isn't Toasta, thank goodness, although come to think of it, KarRa probably isn't much better than Toasta or Hoova.
KarRa has been waiting since she was sixteen for Rylan, her protector of sorts, to realize that she loves him. They were orphans who grew up under the watchful eye of a Fagin-style character called Scuffle. Now that they are adults, KarRa can only watch and seethe inside as Rylan seeks out other women to get a happy and normal - as normal as these shapeshifters can aspire to be, that is - life that he claims to remember before he became an orphaned Clan-less kid on the streets. Rylan has issues, of course, but ultimately, KarRa realizes that she will have to find a way to become stronger and more independent instead of waiting for Rylan to come love her, especially when Rylan leaves her to deal with his issues on his own.
A part of me is really dreading some ridiculous "magic virgin sex" thing that Wild Within could very well become but to my most pleasant surprise, this one turns out to be a very enjoyable and most fascinating fantasy tale. Author Mima really takes time to shape out the culture of her characters here and the culture turns out to be a fusion of primitive violence and sensitive new-age emo feelings in a most unexpectedly interesting manner. I also like how the author has KarRa grow up and become her own person instead of having KarRa spending all her time blindly adoring Rylan and waiting for him to come love her back. I don't know how to describe Rylan's issues to a reader new to the series because it will involve me having to give a long explanation of the shape-shifting abilities of these people. Let's just say that they aren't your typical horny shapeshifters and while they live in a culture that is violent as well as highly sexual, they don't do that stupid and corny "we must have sex or the world will end at midnight!" thing. If they want to have sex, it's because they want to have sex. Such refreshing bluntness from the author about the more carnal nature of these horny toads is nice indeed.
I don't mind the author's writing style here because I find the story interesting, but Ms Mima writes in a lush and deliberately flowery prose, probably hoping to come off as "whimsical" or "otherworldly", and sometimes the author can become too flowery and over-the-top instead. In this case, I don't mind, but I won't be surprised if some readers end up being put off by the author's prose.
I am really not impressed at all with Beast Within but I am, however, very impressed with how the author has apparently effortlessly make me eat my words about her in this one. There is a really well-portrayed setting here, just as there is a most fascinating story here of how one can find love amidst such a violent and sexually-charged setting.
I'm masochistic enough to love it when an author makes me eat my words with style, so Ms Mima, here, feel free to take the Eloisa James "Eat my shorts, you bitch, I'm really glorious!" Award trophy. You've earned it. Of course, I reserve the right to take back the trophy come the next book because this isn't over yet, oh no. Now run along and write me another book. A rematch is due soon.
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