Atlantic Bridge, $5.00, ISBN 1-931761-79-5
Historical Fantasy Romance, 2003
It is interesting to read Darragha Foster’s debut effort Love’s Second Sight because it is so… normal. Of course, it’s not too normal since we have the Norse god Loki as a villain and the heroine Thorgunna is a witch with the sight, but compared to the author’s subsequent books which feature Viking studmuffins trapped in whalebone dildos and shapeshifting Orca whale heroes, this book is pretty normal. Fans of her later books may be taken aback when they start to read this one and discover how down to earth this story can be at first. The second half of the story though can be pretty darkly humorous in a macabre manner, especially that scene where a poor fellow is shagging his mistress only to have the mistress’s face morphs into Loki’s, so I can definitely see the future Darragha Foster in this story.
Thorgunna is the jarl of the island of Tiree since the death of her husband and she has dedicated her time and efforts in keeping Tiree peaceful and away from the clutches of the god Loki who needs Tiree to kick off his plans to bring about the end of the world. The arrival of a bunch of Vikings from the land we know today as Greenland complicates Thorgunna’s life somewhat because her sight has warned or alerted her (depending on how you look at it) that one of them, Leif, is going to send her hormones all topsy-turvy.
There are some technical flaws with Love’s Second Sight that are obvious from the get go. The very modern dialogs, for example. While the author has taken the effort to immerse this story in as much historical details and atmosphere as possible to make me feel like I’m really been transported to the tenth century era of this story, the language is so jarringly contemporary (Leif calling Thorgunnna “Madam Jarl”, for example) that it actually undoes a lot of Ms Foster’s efforts to make sure that her story is as authentic as possible. Ms Foster also tends to have Thorgunna talking to herself too often as way to provide expositions for the reader, to the point that Thorgunna comes off as someone who could use more friends in her life.
The language issue aside, while this story takes a while to get into the swing of things, it becomes really interesting once Loki decides to make his move. It is a bit hard to get too attached to the characters here since I keep hearing them speak their lines out to each other in the stiffest British accent possible – it’s the dialogues, I tell you – but I find it hard to stop reading because I find myself wanting to see what will happen next. Love’s Second Sight is a bit of an old school romance in the sense that the hero and the heroine have to endure some long distance separation but these two are always thinking of each other and Leif doesn’t fool around with other women so this story isn’t that old school. The old school epic feel of this story is one that I find engaging and most interesting, however. Ms Foster gets a few things right. I like how she incorporates religion in this story and how she doesn’t take short cuts in the plot to make things easier for her characters.
I can’t say that Love’s Second Sight is a particularly well-written story since there are too many flaws in the technical aspects of the writing to be overlooked, but it does show that Ms Foster has plenty of interesting ideas and she can tell an engaging story if she puts her mind to it.