Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4022-3651-8
Fantasy Romance, 2010 (Reissue)
Beneath the Thirteen Moons is not related in any way to the author’s Elven Lords series, by the way. This is a reissue, although the original version, released in 2003, was published by Five Star, a publisher specializing in hardcover books for libraries, so there is a pretty good chance that you haven’t heard of that book until now. Whether this reissue is a great thing depends on how much you love nostalgia, because this book is pretty dated compared to the more sophisticated tropes that have taken root in the genre in the last few years.
Some things never change, however, and one of those evergreen tropes is the Special Heroine. Mahri Zin seems like an ordinary widow at first, but be assured that she will soon display incredible powers that will mark her as the destined heroine that will save us all from darkness, that kind of thing. Like all heroines determined to save the world, she acts alone, of course, risking limb and virtue to break into the Royal City of the Sea Forest to kidnap a healer to save the poor and the sick in her village. She just has to kidnap Korl Com’nder – don’t laugh, please, because somewhere out there, a Chippendale dancer will be hurt that you are laughing at his stage name – who happens to be not only a Special Powerful Hero but also the Crown Prince. He’s the Special Arrogant Kawaii Hunk to her Special Beauteous Snowflake, and together, they are Bonded forever to save the world from the forces of evil. Put on your shades, everyone, because the sparkling awesomeness of our twosome can be blinding.
On the bright side, the best thing I can say about this book is that it is utterly bland to the point of being antiseptic. Mahri is exactly the kind of heroine that populates stories of this kind – dedicated to making everyone happy despite having few capabilities to pull that off… the usual. Still, she’s not stupid to the point of being toxic, she doesn’t act like an overgrown child, and she seems smart despite some of the stunts she pulls off in this tale. Korl is also quite bland as he’s more of a stereotype than a well-drawn person, his otherworldly nature being a substitute for any distinct personality. In fact, both characters are flat, with only the whole “We’re really awesome, honest!” thing about their fated/destined/whatever shagfest being the sole distinguishing trait about them.
Oh yes, the romance. Let’s just say that it seems more like a quadratic equation involving fate squared to the power of destiny, divided by the product of super powers combined and special touching, and more. I may discover that it’s really love by the time I solve the equation, but honestly, I can’t be bothered to put in so much effort. Ms Kennedy spares no clichés here – from destined mates to power-increasing boinking, the kitchen sink of woo-woo is overflowing. The whole romance is predestined, the better to save Ms Kennedy the effort of actually showing me a romance, I guess.
And yikes, the prose is pretty ugly to look at because of all the pointless capital letters littering the pages. Mahri doesn’t see, she Sees the Sight and Hears the Sound and it’s Beautiful. It’s not enough to have powers, she and the boyfriend need to have the Power. As for the bonding, it’s special, so it’s Bonding with a capital B. Beyond the Unknown! And all these Special Words can come together in all permutations, for example the Bond of Healing Power. We also have special names, like Wildings, Sea Forest, Royal Family, Queen, Great One, and more. In addition to capital letters flying all over the place, there is also the dreaded apostrophe in names: Com’nder, R’in, S’raya, Sh’ra… Reading this book is like seeing everything hideous and overblown about the old school paranormal romance writing style being vomited over the script of Disney’s Pocahontas cartoon.
As I’ve said earlier, this book is recommended only to folks seeking to indulge in some nostalgia about the days gone by when paranormal romances are dictated by the sizes of their capital letters and the length of their many apostrophes. Compared to the more sophisticated phraseology and nomenclatures in today’s paranormal and urban fantasy romances, Beneath the Thirteen Moons just doesn’t cut it.