Storm Born

Richelle Mead
2008, Urban Fantasy
Zebra, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 1420100963
Part of a series

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Hot

Though I've been in a bit of a "been there, done that" slump with regard to urban fantasy lately, Storm Born, first in the Dark Swan series, was definitely good enough to shake me out of it somewhat. This tale of a shaman on a quest in the Otherworld (a land quite reminiscent of the faerie worlds I've seen in other books) has all manner of twists and turns that make for an intriguing read. While the parts of the story involving the heroine's self-realization sometimes dragged a bit, this remains a book I'd recommend.

Eugenie Markham, trained by her legendary stepfather, works as a shaman in Phoenix. Venturing into the Otherworld holds little allure for her, and she prefers to simply banish troublesome spirits to the other side. However, the thought of a vulnerable young girl captured and held by one of the kings of the Otherworld causes her to use her powers to attempt a rescue mission. Eugenie is a shaman powerful enough to cross into the Otherworld, but what happens when she gets there is unexpected indeed.

Eugenie learns of a prophecy that appears well known to residents of the Otherworld, but it's news to her. Otherworldly creatures familiar with the prophecy and with Eugenie are determined to have sex with her whether she likes the idea or not. Needless to say, this does not sit well with her and she makes that clear from the very outset. Even as she determines that she will not allow the prophecy to come true, she also finds herself having to rely on assistance from two very different Otherworldly folk: The faerie king Dorian and a fox spirit called Kiyo.

Eugenie shares plenty of chemistry with both of he allies/suitors. She has a number of steamy interludes throughout the story, but the focus of the book remains solidly on her rather than on the creation of a lasting relationship. While I suspect that future books will develop a relationship in more detail, this one deals primarily with Eugenie's quest and with her learning to come into her own both as a person and a user of magic.

No matter who Eugenie ends up choosing in the end, she will have great options. Kiyo, the playful fox spirit, is also fiercely loyal and seems to have a knack for interacting well with Eugenie no matter what her mood (and they can be many). While Kiyo and Eugenie seem to have instant chemistry, the complexity of her relationship with Dorian is well written. She wants so much to dislike Dorian because of who she is, but she needs his abilities and as she comes to respect him, the tie this creates between them seems to take on a life of its own.

Eugenie can be a little slow with regard to self-realization, so parts of the middle portion of the book drag a bit. Still, the characters are likable, and Storm Born puts a fresh spin on the faerie world that I greatly enjoyed. While parts of the plot in this book are self-contained, it is obvious that various parts of the story will need to be developed over several books, and I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

-- Lynn Spencer

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