Friday, March 06, 2015

Bride of the Midnight King: A Grimm Blood Tale – review

Author: Kat Parrish

First published: 2014

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Bride of the Midnight King is a paranormal romance with a fairy tale twist--Bride of the Midnight King. A vampire version of Cinderella set in a fabulous fairy tale land. A coming-of-age tale based on one of the most beloved fairy tales of all time, Bride of the Midnight King melds the romantic/classic Cinderella story and a richly textured vampire mythology to create something unique.

And the story begins with ...once upon a time

The land was called Eindar, and those who lived there called it “home,” but those who lived beyond its borders called it “The Divided Kingdom” because it was a place where humans and vampires shared the land but divided the day’s hours into sunlight and shadow, and there were only a few whose lives were lived in both realms.

Eindar had once been ruled by a royal house of humans, but that era ended when the last human king—Lorant the Third—took a vampire wife and died, leaving the kingdom in her care. Queen Isix abdicated in favor of her son Adraxus, and the sons of his line had occupied the throne of the Shadow Palace ever since.

By custom, the vampire kings choose human consorts to rule by their side. A king chose his consort for any number of reasons, but rarely was love involved. Or so it was until the last consort of King Idrax died, leaving behind a most unusual bequest. Lady Judita’s final gift to the kingdom and the king she’d loved was a complete surprise, and it changed …everything.

The review: Fairy tales should be dark, that is certainly my opinion. I have no time for saccharine fairy tales with bright colours and shrilly twee songs. I want a lush gothic landscape. So, it appears, does Kat Parrish.

The blurb makes it very clear that this is, essentially, a retelling of Cinderella with a twist that this is a kingdom where vampires and humans co-exist. In truth the vampire aspect could have been, for the most part, ignored and the story would have worked and I could say that I would have liked to have seen a more bloody, dare I say it, gory tale. I could, but I hope that some of the more base vampire traits will out in later volumes.

However I do not want to be churlish about such a marvellously written novella. Parrish built a complex (at least in titles) political background that never intruded into the story and became natural swiftly. But more so it was the evocative prose that captured me, reminiscent of Tanith Lee, though eschewing the impenetrable denseness that can (on occasion, if we are honest) mar some of Lee’s work. Parrish married gothic richness and flowing prose masterfully.

I might also suggest that perhaps the very individual and assertive voice of main character Yala seemed quelled somewhat as she and the vampire king, Idrax, tumbled headlong into happy ever after. However I am trusting Parrish will let the voice assert itself in future volumes and remind myself that, beyond the gothic tapestry, this is still a paranormal romance. Romance is welcome when well written and I genuinely enjoyed this volume. 8 out of 10.

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