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Swallowing Darkness, by Laurell K. Hamilton
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Ballantine
Published: 2008
Review Posted: 8/25/2009
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 6 out of 10

Swallowing Darkness, by Laurell K. Hamilton

Book Review by SJ Higbee

Have you read this book?

It's never ideal to start an established series halfway through -- and I think my enjoyment of this erotic fantasy consequently suffered because I didn't manage to get hold of the previous books.

Meredith Gentry, princess of faerie, is now pregnant with twins. Her uncle, the King of Light and Illusion, is claiming that he is the father after abducting her -- and that her guards are a danger to her continued safety. Whereas the truth is that Meredith's beloved guards are the fathers of her unborn children. After escaping, she returns to the lands of mortals with her guards, shaken and needing medical aid.

However, being pregnant has strengthened her claim to the Unseelie throne -- placing her and anyone following her in acute danger. The deranged queen -- her aunt -- and her fanatically ambitious cousin aren't the only threats. Conspirators throughout the faerie realm are plotting and counter-plotting against her. And somehow, Meredith must find the strength to protect her unborn children and her lovers. Or none of them will survive...

I like the complexity and bloodthirsty nature of the faerie world very much, where all sorts of creatures and beings are set against each other for genetic and historical reasons. The narrative is in first person POV and works reasonably well -- Meredith's character is well-drawn and sufficiently rounded to carry the story. The graphic sex scenes are well written, as is the action and fights which manage to zip along at a good clip and because some of the major characters die or become seriously compromised, you cannot relax too much in the knowledge that everyone will come away unscathed.

But I found the slightly high-flown language a bit intrusive. I know exactly why Hamilton has used it, but for me, it tends to compromise the narrative pace and, at times, comes across as slightly OTT. The other issue I have with the book is that Hamilton is prone to very detailed descriptions of her characters. While I appreciate that she needs to emphasise the other-worldiness of some her beings, there were times when giving us quite so much visual information definitely held up the pace. I found myself skimming across much of this material, particularly where Meredith is describing her lovers.

I am conscious that if I'd started this series at the beginning, by now I may well have been sufficiently pulled into the story progression to let these foibles slide by unnoticed. However, as I didn't, I can only report my impressions. Nonetheless, if this particular sub-genre ticks your boxes, I would certainly recommend you make an effort to start this series at the beginning and work up to Swallowing Darkness. Her interesting take on the battling races within the faerie realm makes this a series worth following.

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