by Tami Dee, contemporary/time-travel (2005)
Triskelion Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 1-933874-55-4
Tami Dee has a story to tell, but her method leaves a lot to be desired.
In the prologue, set in year 900, Viking princess Katla Rollodottir frames her betrothed Leif Nabboddrson. She loves another man, you see, and she's carrying this man's child. As a result, her father's men butcher Leif's entourage and toss the unlucky new bridegroom into the sea.
Cut to chapter one, set in year 2006, where heroine Kat Jonsdottir starts the chapter by crying. I have no idea why she's crying. She's just crying, sheesh. She's probably crying because Ms Dee wants me to understand - really understand - what a sad life Kat has since she was an orphan raised by a grandmother and they were recently evicted from their home. Her grandmother is convinced that Kat has a role to play in breaking the family curse that started when the naughty Katla in the prologue wronged Leif so. Apparently when Kat is this first woman with "raven hair and sea-blue eyes" born in her family since the infamous Katla so it is up to Kat to right the wrong the previous Katla did to Leif. This Kat, therefore, is a very very special heroine because not only does she have this amazing Curse-Breaking Vagina, her Raven Hair and Sea-Blue Eyes are equally fantastic. According to her grandmother, Kat must "save" Katla's baby.
So, when Kat saves Leif who has somehow washed up onto the beach in year 2006, it's time to put those magical Pure Heroine Eggs to work and make that Magic Baby that will make the world a better place. Work it, gal!
Ms Dee can't seem to make up her mind whether Kat is supposed to be ditsy or hapless, but Kat turns out to be all-round annoying. When she rescues Leif, she starts babbling like a complete idiot.
"At least this time you're flesh and blood." She gave his forearm a slight squeeze as if to confirm the fact. "The last time I saw a Viking, the train was going at least eighty miles an hour and he was absolutely glaring at me through the window. Freaked me out for days. Rosie says I was dreaming. She insists that all my Amma's talk of ancestors and betrayals finally got to me."
Ignore the inconsistent use of past and present tense in the above excerpt and let's focus instead on the fact that our poor hero is trussed up on shore all bruised and bleeding and our heroine is standing there babbling about the fact that she hallucinates and is probably as insane as her Amma. When she remembers that she should take him to a hospital, she tells him to take a rest first until she's ready to take him to one.
"Was someone really trying to kill you or were you involved in some sort of Viking re-enactment that went terribly wrong? These weapons you've got strapped everywhere look so real. How is it that you didn't lose them when you took your, ah, swim?"
Forget the doctor. Let's call in the loony patrol instead.
"You have bruises everywhere. Do you think anything is broken? Who did this to you, anyway?"
No, she still hasn't called for an ambulance.
Leif is not pleased that his rescuer is apparently the same woman that did him in. One can of course argue that he has a good reason to be mad, given that the naughty Katla back in 900 did him in really badly, and he is under the impression that only a few hours had passed since he was unceremoniously tossed into the sea. Unfortunately, he doesn't kill this Kat, which leaves Kat free to babble as she stomps her foot (no, really, she actually stomps her foot):
"I can't believe I almost fell for this. For a split second, okay, maybe two or three seconds, I really thought you had somehow, miraculously, traveled through time. I was so caught up in my Amma's... Oh, never mind! Who hired you? Was it Rosie? She's the only one I confided in about the legend. Does she actually think this is funny? A joke? Good lord, she knows how upset I've been since Amma gave me that key? Where did she find you anyway? The actors' guild?"
A rather chunky excerpt, that, with some dubious mix-up of tenses again, but let's instead focus on the fact that Leif had just now held a knife against her throat. Instead of running away when she has the chance, she's now stomping her foot.
Our twosome subsequently move on to a tale of helping Leif adapt to the twenty-first century as they figure out what to do with him and themselves. It's a predictable story, actually, but there are some amusing moments such as Leif discovering the music Linkin Park. However, Ms Dee writes in a manner that is too self-indulgent, with the heroine often behaving as if she is privy to some inside joke that she shares with Ms Dee, hence Kat stomping her foot or babbling in what Ms Dee believes is an adorable or cute manner when any sane woman would have reacted accordingly with fear instead of trying so hard to impress the reader with her adorably twee self. Leif's emotional transition from mistrust and anger to love and protectiveness doesn't feel real, but I can't expect too much in terms of characterization at this point in time from Ms Dee if the rest of her prose is anything to go by.
The author has some good ideas and concepts but Under A Viking Moon often reads like an unpolished draft. It is a pretty amateurish work by an author who could deliver better, I suspect, given time and opportunity. It's quite a pity that this book is in electronic form because if it's in print form, at least Ms Dee can buy every copy she can get her hands on and bury them in a landfill so that this book will not reemerge to haunt her should she become a better author in the future.
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