Lara: Kitsch

Bertrice Small The World of Hetar fantasy book review 1. Larafantasy romance book review Bertrice Small The World of Hetar 1.  LaraLara by Bertrice Small

Lara has been sold into slavery by her father. For most young women in the world of Hetar, this is a disaster that brings about nothing but fear and sorrow. For Lara however it is but the very beginning of her adventure.

Half human, half faerie, Lara is stunningly beautiful and willful as well. Her faerie protector guides her in finding her destiny which involves a series of great adventures and great lovers. Finally reaching the Outlands, Lara comes to realize her destiny is to aid the people she finds there in their war against her homeland Hatar. But when the battle comes will she be ready to face her fears?

Ok, I searched my mind long and hard to find a word that would describe Lara. The only word I can come up with that would seem to fit would be: kitsch.

The plot of Lara is pretty simple, and it is very obvious that it is Small’s first leap from romance novels into fantasy novels. It is also obvious that Small is a non-confrontational person. Everything comes so easy to Lara — she’s beautiful, so everyone wants to sleep with her, she has a natural skill with weapons, she’s super smart, she has magic to help her when her brain can’t, and the list goes on and on. She has no faults.

Not only was the fact that the main character has no faults sort of sickening, but I also wanted to barf when all of the obstacles in Lara’s way bowed down to her. She had to only fight in one battle at the very end where her side won a total victory slaying all of the adversary and only taking about 20 deaths on the “good” side, and none of them significant in the least to the plotline.

Small’s writing style leaves something to be desired as well. Take a line from page 405 where she is describing a battle:

…soon the battlefield ran red with blood, and it was difficult not to slip or fall…

Huh? In the heat of battle when she could have swords clashing, men screaming, heroics going on all around, she decides to say that it’s hard to stand up?

The dialogue between the characters is also rather on the pathetic side. It reminded me of The Boxcar Children. Do you remember that book? You read it when you were maybe like 8 and the characters said: “Good!” to everything and didn’t speak like normal people would? At times Small got almost Shakespearian on the reader and added in a lot of ‘nays’ and ‘ayes’ and ‘thous.’ It was quite tedious at times.

Now that I’m done destroying this book, I do have to admit that despite this large laundry list of problems with the plot, characters, dialogue, etc… I actually kind of liked Lara because, despite all its shortcomings, Lara kept me entertained. I’m not running out to get the sequel — as the ending is in no way a cliffhanger — but I’ll put it on my book swapping list and if I have a bunch of credits built up when it comes along I’ll consider reading it.

Lara is not going to win any awards anytime soon, but the theme can appeal to those who enjoy romance stories with a touch of fantasy, and is easy enough to read and get through quickly. A good light starter book for those new to romantic fantasy… just don’t have super-high expectations going in.


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JULIE WAINEO, one of our earliest guest reviewers, earned an MBA at Bowling Green State University. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a minor in French. Now living in Virginia with her husband and dog (Clover), Julie is an avid reader of not only fantasy, but historical fiction, the occasional “chick lit,” and children’s literature.

View all posts by Julie Waineo (guest)

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