Eye of Heaven

In the Dark of Dreams

The Iron Hunt

The Red Heart of Jade

Shadow Touch

A Wild Light

Soul Song by Marjorie Liu
(Avon, $7.99, R) ISBN 978-0-06-201990-5
Mícal is a tragic hero, and he meets the woman who may be his salvation in Soul Song, a Dirk & Steele novel.

Mícal is a Krackeni, a merman who was born to a human mother and a merman father. He lived a sheltered life as his parents tried to protect him when he was young. As a teenager, Mícal defied his parents and ran off to find adventure and education. In college, he met a girl and thought that heíd fallen in love.

Mícal was deceived into submitting to the girl he loved, and he soon finds out that sheís a witch who has enchanted him, and enslaved him with a silver bracelet that binds them together. She does this to retain Mícalís strength, and she knows of his secret familial skill of singing away a personís soul. The slavery contains many layers, he canít return to the sea he loves without pain, he canít touch another except for the witch without pain, and heís bound to her evil will. The witch needs the souls of others to keep herself young, and she employs Mícal to murder men and women to feed her. She also tortures Mícal in various ways, and he desperately tries to oppose her in small ways, knowing that she can compel him to do anything she wishes at any time.

Mícal receives a new name from the witch, a new woman for him to murder: Kitala Bell. When Mícal meets the beautiful, talented musician, he tries to warn her away from himself, but he finds that she is in danger from another source, other than just him. He saves her from the other bad guys, and Kitala recognizes a kinship between them, and they try to team up to attempt to fight the witch as it seems that Kitala is able to temporarily stop the witchís bond to Mícal.

Kitala Bell is an incredibly talented musician who was raised by her musician parents and her spiritual grandmother. She has had certain paranormal activities since she was a child, and they have caused her to seek out a life of simple solitude with her music. Sheís stunned to meet Mícal, a dangerous man she shouldnít trust. Sheís immediately attracted to him and tries to trust her instinct that he could be a good man underneath the witchís spell. Kitala has very little experience with the supernatural other than her grandmotherís teaching, which she mostly ignored. Now, sheís stuck in a very strange and deadly situation, where her only ally has been sent to steal her soul, and she trusts him anyways.

I am generally a fan of Marjorie Liu, she has inventive plots, tightly written story lines and fabulously crafted characters. Soul Song is typical of Liuís engrossing style, and it doesnít disappoint.

Inventive plot Ė an enslaved merman bound to a wicked witch and a hermit virtuoso who sees murderous visions? Check. Liu tends to make the unbelievable tales she creates into a lush reality within her books, and nowhere does this resonate more than in this story. To say it out loud, the plot might seem over the top, but within Liuís carefully crafted words, itís an adventure.

Tightly written story Ė no downtime between action, some really inventive background characters, and a hidden threat thatís well veiled, I loved it.

Fabulously crafted characters Ė Mícal was the pinnacle of well written hero. He was fully rounded, the reader can know him and feel him, and when understanding dawns through the tautly written revelation of the full extent of his slavery, you canít help but admire him. Kitalaís a strong woman, she never bows to the ultimate weirdness suddenly engulfing her, sheís a fighter straight through and a good foil for Mícal.

The only complaint that I have about this story is that the action tends to edge out the romance. There are so many characters, and plot twists that it leaves very little time for the chemistry between Mícal and Kitala to be explored.

That being said, it was a great read Ė and highly recommended for your summer reading list.

--Amy Wroblewsky

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