A big family, a reading addiction, and the occasional celebrity scandal are the ingredients of life that create one woman's opinion on just about everything.

Friday, June 29, 2007

SOUL SONG by Marjorie M. Liu

Read an excerpt here.

As I'm sure you know by now SOUL SONG is the sixth installment in the Dirk & Steele series. Although I hesitate to use the word series because each story really stands on its own. SOUL SONG is no exception so even if you've never read any other D&S book you could pick this one up with no problem.

I've been mulling over how I wanted to talk about this book. The Dirk & Steele books aren't something you can pigeon hole. Each story depicts a different facet of the fictional private detective firm of Dirk & Steele whose creed is to "Protect the innocent in secrecy". This obviously leaves the world and all its problems and foibles Ms. Liu's playground. Nothing is off limits.

BTW, if you click on the link you can see profiles for her characters and there's even music loaded on the individual pages. It's one of the most interesting interactive author sites/pages I've ever been on.

All of which is fascinating to be sure, but not telling you much about this book. While it may sound like a familiar literary device to use a detective agency as the background for characters, the operatives and members of the Dirk & Steele agency are anything but ordinary. In this world you can expect to find telepaths, witches, gargoyles, and shape shifters. There is magic and myth. Yet somehow each time I read one of Ms. Liu's stories I'm touched by the humanity of her characters. I find myself wondering what it would be like to be eletrokinetic, or telepathic or a shape shifting bird trying to hide and fit in the modern world.

SOUL SONG is the story of Kitala Bell a gifted fiddle player traveling the world performing; and, M’Cal, a prince of the sea who has been tricked into the service of a witch and steals souls to feed the witch’s voracious appetite for youth, beauty and power.

When we first meet Kitala she is at the peak of her musical gift yet frustrated and fearful of helping people with her other gift. Kitala can see how people are going to die. Not when they are going to die, but how they are going to die. All of which is pretty frightening especially when she sees a gruesome death mask over a still living person’s face. Kitala has been coping with these premonitions of death by accepting that she can’t change fate.

M’Cal, weary and resigned to his destiny as the witch’s soul stealing henchman is moved by Kitala’s musical talent when he sees her perform. So much so that for the first time in a long while M’Cal vows to resist the witch’s compulsion to do harm to Kitala and steal her soul.

M'Cal's anguish over doing the bidding of the witch and Kit's despair of ever being able to help or warn someone before they die provides an immediate bond for the two of them. Ms. Liu doesn't waste time with misunderstandings or prejudices but accepts that these are two bright, gifted and compassionate people who have learned about life from their own mistakes and failures.

With Kitala deciding to save someone from an early death and M’Cal’s determination to resist the witch the story unfolds with them trying to solve a murder before it happens and free M’Cal from the witch’s clutches. They get help from Kitala’s best friend Dela who just happens to have connections to and work occasionally for Dirk & Steele.

I think I’ve mentioned before that fantasy is really not my thing, yet I’ve found myself fascinated by these books for two reasons. First, each story has been unique. Ms. Liu certainly does not write to a template. Secondly, her characters are so genuine. So if you like a bit of reality in your fantasy and a bit of fantasy in your reality, you should give these books a try.

To be honest, this installment didn't supplant TIGER EYE as my favorite D&S book which is closely followed by A DREAM OF SHADOW & STONE in the DARK DREAMERS anthology. However, for her unique and honest voice I wouldn't miss one of her books. You just never know what you're going to find in those pages.

I’m including the book trailer for this one (below) because the color and texture so fit the book. Also I apologize if this review is a bit disjointed. My DSL was acting up and this got eaten and I had to write it twice. I think the first review was actually better. Such are the slings and arrows…

Oh, one last note. Thanks to the gods at Dorchester Publishing for the ARC of this book which allowed me to participate in the buzz building campaign. SOUL SONG will be released on July 3rd.

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Blogger nath said...

Hey Rosie :D

very interesting review :D I enjoyed Tiger Eyes and the next installment... the one with the healer... but then, it just started going downhill from there... See, the thing is that they say that shapeshifters are SOOO RARE... and suddenly, you have 3 to 4 shapeshifters appearing in every book! Anyway, I think that I'm still going to get this one based on your review :D

5:34 AM PDT  
Blogger Mailyn said...

The Dirk & Steele

I'm not even going to tell you what I thought that said. Had to read it twice to make sure I wasn't right. LOL.

7:16 AM PDT  
Blogger Rosie said...

Nath, her characters always fascinate me. I loved that first book and I can't wait for her to write more gargoyles.

Mailyn, awwww, c'mon...share!

10:23 AM PDT  

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