REVIEW: Melusine by Sarah Monette

melusine1.jpgMelusine by Sarah Monette was a brilliant read. An excellent fantasy novel that I inhaled. It’s a gritty, dark fantasy novel set in the city of Melusine. A city of dark magic, blood-witches, ghosts and ghouls and much, much more.

The book is described thus:

 Mélusine-a city of secrets and lies, pleasure and pain, magic and corruption. It is here that wizard Felix Harrowgate and cat-burglar Mildmay the Fox will find their destinies intertwined in a world of sensuality and savagery.

This is a world that I didn’t want to leave. The author’s imagination is absolutely wonderful. She could come back to this world again and again and I wouldn’t tire of it. Also, this story is character driven. It is told through the eyes of wizard Felix Harrowgate and Mildmay the Fox who come from two completely different worlds. The author does a brilliant job of picking up the story where the other left off. I wasn’t confused or bored or tired of the narrative voice. Each voice was very distinctive. Each story gripping and interesting in its own right. Each character start out in different places in the story and then the author brings them together in the end. It was brilliant.

The story centers around the city of Melusine and its decadence. Our narrator, Felix is a powerful wizard or hocus of the Mirador.  The Virtu is a crystal that is kept at the Mirador that harbors or protects the magic and spells of the city of Melusine. Felix is a hocus but his origins are contentious and dangerous. He was not born a nobleman even though his master, Malkhar raised him as one and helped him become a powerful wizard. When the Virtu gets broken, Felix goes mad and most of his story is centered around his madness and his helplessness at explaining what happened or clearing his name. I found it gripping.

Then there’s Milday the Fox or Mildmay, the second narrator of the story. He’s a kept-thief, cat-burglar and trained assassin who is the complete opposite of Felix and comes from a different world. Mildmay accepts a job to take back some jewels for a young woman, Ginerva, that turns out to be more dangerous than he originally thought. I thought Mildmay’s story was a bit more fascinating. Mildmay ends up having to save Ginerva, who decided to sell her jewels. Only she doesn’t know that her buyer is a dangerous blood-witch. They meet up with the blood witch in a cemetery where the atmosphere is downright creepy. Needless to say, everything doesn’t go right and Mildmay and Ginerva end up running for their lives. That’s just the start of it.

There’s plenty of creepy moments and suspense. Plenty of creatures and stories of gods, ghouls, ghosts, witches and evil spirits.  The world building is excellent. As a reader, I felt the author had a excellent grasp on her characters and her world. The world she creates is gritty and dark. The story opens as if we are dropped in the “middle of a story”. I wasn’t lost. The language took some getting use to but it wasn’t distracting. I thought a dictionary of terms tacked to the back of the book would have been helpful but not necessary since intuitively you can guess the meaning. The author seems to be compared to or trying to attract the audience for Jacqueline Carey. I’ve never read Carey’s work but I know that I will make it a priority.

There’s very little romance, if any. This is a solid fantasy novel that is gritty and dark. I found the story fascinating. Sorry if I keep repeating that but I did. The character development: brilliant. The characters live and breathed off the page. I must admit that there were moments where Felix’s madness was more than I could bear but that was the only complaint. Rest assured, I haven’t spoiled this story for you. Trust me. What I’ve mentioned thus far isn’t even the half of it. There’s plenty of adventure, plenty of action, plenty of everything to keep you turning the pages. I couldn’t put this book down. I went back to rereading it as soon as I was finished.

The Melusine was a brilliant fantasy novel. A complex story that flowed smoothly. I highly recommend it for those who enjoy fantasy. The Melusine was an A read for me. I am currently reading The Virtu, the sequel that was released this year. It’s available to download at Fictionwise but the first book is not available as a ebook (boo) and The Virtu doesn’t stand alone very well.

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About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Grade A Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to REVIEW: Melusine by Sarah Monette

  1. Kailana says:

    Oh, welcome back! And how interesting that you liked this book. I had heard a very bad review of it and took it off my to be read list, but now that you say it is good. Decisions, decisions!

  2. Avid Reader says:

    A bad review? Hmmm. It may not appeal to everybody, true. There is a lot in the book that I didn’t mention for fear of spoilers. It is dark and there is some violence among other things.

  3. May says:

    I looooved the writing and the worldbuilding, but I’m not sure that I’ll be picking up the The Virtu. Something doesn’t quite click for me.

    I believe the third book will be called The Mirador.

  4. jaq says:

    I love Carey’s 1st book (the next 2 are in the tbr pile.) I’ll have to check this book out.

  5. Avid Reader says:

    I looooved the writing and the worldbuilding, but I’m not sure that I’ll be picking up the The Virtu. Something doesn’t quite click for me.

    I believe the third book will be called The Mirador.

    I am reading The Virtu now and am loving it just as much May. Sorry to hear it didn’t work for you. I found the author’s blog and left a message and learned at the same time that she is currently writing The Mirador. I’m excited.

    Jaq- do check it out. I think you’ll like and anything goes as I said it is very dark. I’ll have to pick up Carey’s first book.

  6. May says:

    It happens. 🙂 I think I’d have liked it better if it hadn’t been in first person.

    And you have to pick up Carey’s first book.

    Have you read Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy? Daughter of the Blood is the first book.

  7. Avid Reader says:

    Hi May,

    I do have the Anne Bishop books in my TBR pile. I plan to read them this year. Also I will make it my business to read the Carey book, too. You know, I didn’t always care for first person POV’s either. I hated them but there are quite a few books I’ve read this year that I’ve enjoyed in first person. Go. Figure.

  8. May says:

    Keishon, Diana Peterfreund’s talking about First Person POV all this week on her blog, if you’d like to check it out.

    I’ve learnt to appreciate first person more as I read more, but I think I’m more likely to enjoy a third person novel than a first person novel.

  9. Janine says:

    I haven’t read Monette’s novels but I really enjoyed her novella “A Gift of Wings” in the anthology The Queen in Winter. That one does have a romance in it, and it’s different, in a good way.

  10. Avid Reader says:

    I haven’t read Monette’s novels but I really enjoyed her novella “A Gift of Wings” in the anthology The Queen in Winter. That one does have a romance in it, and it’s different, in a good way.

    Hey, I have that novella and many of her short stories are being published and released in 2007. I love her writing and I am really excited about her work. My new author for the year! Yay.

  11. Jane says:

    Okay, I tried to read this last night but Felix’s character is so self destructive that I couldn’t move on. I don’t know what to think at this point. Is there some redemption here?

  12. Avid Reader says:

    Sorry it took me so long to respond back especially since your reading this book. Got home from work and went straight to sleep. NOW –

    Felix is the most challenging character in the book(s). His self-destructiveness ends up leading to the shattering of the Virtu which is linked to him by magic in some sort of way and this makes him go completely mad and the author portrays this all throughout the entire book. I know I felt the same like why is Felix doing this? What purpose does this serve? Why did the author write about someone so self-destructive and selfish? How about Mildmay? Whatcha think about him? Honestly, there were a few parts of Felix’s madness that I flat out skipped. It was just too much for me. And I didn’t really miss anything. Because the two men’s lives will enventually converge together.

    Are you still reading or did you stop? If you stopped, I can certainly understand. At least you tried.
    :biggrin:

  13. Avid Reader says:

    And to answer your question…the redemption doesn’t really come until the second book.

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