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Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal


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Sarah Hoyt's Soul of Fire-- a review
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Want a capsule review? Run out right now and buy this book. Do not do anything until you have done that.

There. Now, if you want to find out why, read on. Otherwise, why are you still here at the Lair of the Bananaslug?

Sarah A Hoyt just gets better and better as a novelist. One of the problems that I've had with some of Sarah's novels is that her pacing is sometimes what I would charitably call discursive...that is, I throw the book at the wall and yell, "Dammit, Sarah, will you get to the point?!!!?" And then I pick it up and keep reading, because she is a marvelous storyteller.

Soul of Fire, the second book in her Heart and Soul trilogy, was the fastest Sarah Hoyt read I've ever seen. I read it in something less than three hours, in one sitting, and I even read the nasty little snippet for the next novel in the trilogy, Heart and Soul, which, dammit, isn't out until November.

In Soul of Fire, we find the Victorian archetypes, as we did in Heart of Light-- the expat British nobleman, the immature and silly, but ever so lovely heroine, the wily servants, the Civil Service types and the British Army types serving the Raj in India...all of the Victorian local color for a romance set in India...and then Sarah Hoyt turns it on its head and shakes it until a wonderfully different story shakes out.

The lady's maid turns out to be a Princess. That's a standard Victorian trope-- but she turns out to be a monkey princess--- she is a shape shifter-- a "weremonkey."

The expat British nobleman turns out to be a very gentlemanly dragon...and under a death sentence because Her Majesty, Queen Victoria has a whole troop of witch smellers whose job is to ferret out weres and burn them at the stake.

There's a wonderful toss-off sentence early in the book about the fact that John Lackland was legally empowered by Parliament to kill his brother Richard because there was more to the "lion hearted" bit than just a nickname.

The quips run fast and furious in this novel, and I found myself alternately convulsed with laughter and tightly wrapped by the suspense.

Some of the scenes are just incredibly well crafted, and Sarah makes it look easy. At one point, the heroine says she's hungry, so the nobleman/dragon flies off to get some fish from the river...and winds up bringing back to her a fisherman's smoked fish sandwich instead of the raw mess we expect him to get. It's like that, throughout the book.

If you've read this far, and you haven't gone out and gotten and read Sarah Hoyt's Soul of Fire you either have greater willpower than anybody I know, or you really really like me...as Sally Field once said. So, back slowly away from the computer, and go buy Sarah's book.

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