Cwtch Press, $3.99, ISBN 978-1-947234-06-2
Fantasy Romance, 2018
Standing both inside and outside time, the spirits saw futures in the bubbles of new life: beings of one cell, jellies and anemones, trilobites, dinosaurs, humans.
“All full of suffering.”
“But so beautiful!”
I burst out laughing in the very prologue of Mary Trepanier’s The Queen of Heaven’s Daughter. Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of beautiful, suffering anemones and jellies just cracks me up.
Anyway, meet Puabi-Ekur. They are some incubus-succubus, gender-bending, 100% Tumblr-friendly entity that possesses people and make them do naughty things, although the author is careful to say that such a possession only happens with the consent of the person who is being possessed. Maybe they all sign a contract? Meanwhile, our heroine Joanie is a sex worker who’s in it for the money. Ooh, I think I’m going to like this story already. Puabi-Ekur recognizes her as their beloved when Puabi was human (long story, don’t ask), and decides to help her find love with Clayton, a college kid who harbors suicidal thoughts and angst, because this is the kind of guy you will want your beloved to end up with. Various other characters, including djinns and what not, show up and…
Well, it’s hard to give a proper synopsis of this story because this is one of those surreal tales that are hardly predictable. It moves along without any adherence to tropes and formula, which is a good thing, but at the same time, the author’s prose straddles the fine line that divides poetry from purple phraseology. Each time she tips over into beautiful suffering trilobite territory, though, I laugh so I can’t say I’m not having fun. The characters speak like hipsters trying to impress one another while smoking pot in a coffee shop in the Netherlands, even if they happen to be immortal woo-woos. There are also some graphic scenes of sexual situations and violence here that may startle readers lured into a lull by the prose.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have here a literary kind of romance story, not that it is a bad thing. The mythology is interesting, although there is also a self-indulgent quality to the whole thing as well. All in all, this one gives me Anne Rice vibes, although the author still loses control of her story now and then. Her characters feel too much like an extension of whatever mystical mumbo-jumbo she is trying to sell me, and the airy-fairy conversations can be tiring to follow after a while. It’s like staring into the author’s navel and seeing the cover of this book staring back at me, sometimes.
Still, The Queen of Heaven’s Daughter takes me on an interesting, fascinating trip, and if the author does slip up, the resulting unintentional humor still cracks me up. There may be some grand, beautiful works of suffering to come from the author in the future, who knows.