Berkley, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-22239-3
“Overwhelmed” describes my feeling after I’ve finished Dragon Wytch, the latest book in Yasmine Galenorn’s Sisters of the Moon series. This is the fourth book in the series, so needless to say, you shouldn’t try reading this one if you are not familiar with the series. You can pinch your nose and try, but I have to warn you: the cast of what seems like thousands and millions in this story will not make it easy for you to keep track of things. I know this series and even I have problems keeping track of the huge cast crawling all over the pages.
Anyway, to keep things simple for the sake of this review, I’ll direct you to the review of the first book in the series, Witchling, where you can get the lowdown on who the three D’Artigo sisters are. By the time this book begins, the sisters have established that both our world and the Otherworld are under threat from Shadow Wing and his demons from the Subterranean World. In this one, there are signs that point to the location of third Spirit Seal (if you have to ask, you have to read the previous books – trust me on this), so a race is on between the good and bad guys to hasten/stop (depending on who you ask) the process of getting demons and other nasty creepy-crawlies to overrun Earthside.
But don’t worry about inconvenient things like “plot” – like Laurell K Hamilton‘s books, this one has the “plot” showing up towards the end for a quick and rushed resolution. The bulk of the story deals with various soap-operatic drama like Camille D’Artigo being torn between her two boyfriends and Smoky, the dragon, because a woman ain’t happy until every man in the multiverse is in love with her. The pacing of this story is so slow, but then again, things like “story” aren’t exactly important when it comes to the Mary Sue genre.
And this is the book that officially sees the series crossing the line from borderline Mary Sue fiction to outright Mary Sue pornography. Every good guy in this story functions merely as admirers and cheerleaders, existing solely to reassure Camille that they love her so much that they are willing to share her fabulous awesomeness with other men in both this and the other worlds, and they also believe that she is the most awesome woman in this world. On one hand, I like the fact that Ms Galenorn doesn’t turn Camille into a useless creature or, worse, a self-absorbed hateful bitch who believes that she is entitled to shag everyone, but at the same time, it is too much to have to wade through hundreds of pages about how awesome Camille is.
Also, this story is littered with gratuitous appearances of way too many secondary characters. The first dozen pages of this story alone serve no purpose other than to have secondary characters step out in small groups to talk to Camille. Camille and her sisters no longer travel alone – they now move with their respective entourage of admirers and groupies to the point that I feel that I have to start making a chart to keep track of who is who. I don’t believe so many characters are needed to populate a story that moves as slowly as a drugged turtle; it is as if the author loves her characters so much that she can’t bear to leave anyone out of the action.
And don’t get me started about the story and the world-building. There are loose ends that have yet to be resolved, but the author only adds more and more new stuff to her already overloaded setting. There seems to be a new character, a new concept, and a new species showing up in every other chapter. Where in the first book we have merely demons, vampires, and gargoyles, in this book we have talking unicorns, bugbears, pixies, gnomes, rãksasas… it is as if someone has dared Ms Galenorn to include every monster listed in the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual from the first to fourth edition. It is bad enough that this story has an overload of secondary characters, it also has to have an overload of details in the world-building.
Instead of enjoying the flow of the story, I spend more time trying to keep track of things and referring to the glossary. Mary Sue pornography has never been this difficult to read, I tell you. Perhaps Ms Galenorn is trying to break some kind of record.