Perilous Prophecy: Had me reaching for the Kleenex

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Perilous Prophecy: A Strangely Beautiful Novel Kindle Edition by Leanna Renee Hieber (Author)fantasy book reviews Leanna Renee Hieber The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and GoddessThe Perilous Prophecy by Leanna Renee Hieber

Editor’s Note: This book was originally published as The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess.

In The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, we met Beatrice Smith, a member of the Guard that preceded Alexi Rychman’s circle. The Perilous Prophecy is a prequel, focusing on Beatrice’s time in the Guard and on the goddess Persephone as she makes preparations for the war against Darkness. While this book is set earlier than the two existing books, I recommend starting with The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, because the Grand Work is explained there in more detail.

Beatrice is the daughter of a British archaeologist living in Cairo. As the story begins, she and five other young people in Cairo receive the call: they are to be the next Guard. At first it seems almost too easy. They settle smoothly into their new lives and couples begin to form. But then Persephone sends the group to England, and everything changes. Beatrice and her Guard are faced with the prospect of finding purpose in their lives when they thought they’d already found it.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsMeanwhile, Persephone is weakening after centuries spent in the sinister Whisper-world, and Darkness is persecuting the spirits of the Guards that have come before. Persephone’s only hope of reuniting with her lover, Phoenix, is to take human form and become mortal. Here we get to see Persephone in her divine form and get to know her better than we did previously. Leanna Renee Hieber avoids the trap of making her too perfect and instead gives us a complex character. She can be capricious — in part because she’s losing it, and in part because a certain degree of flightiness is just part of her nature — and at times I was angry with her right along with Beatrice even as I had a great deal of sympathy for her.

Perilous Prophecy features a touching love story between Beatrice and her fellow Guard member, Ibrahim, two incredibly stubborn people from very different backgrounds. Running alongside that is the story of another relationship, a platonic one: that of Beatrice and Persephone. Stoic and reserved, Beatrice is the perfect foil for Persephone’s utter emotional openness, and Beatrice has just the right kind of personality to dispense “tough love” to a goddess!

Like the previous books, Perilous Prophecy is written in Hieber’s lovely, old-fashioned style. She evokes the literature of the period and also incorporates it into the story, particularly in one terrifically tense scene in which two characters use a passage from a novel to convey emotions they’re too shy to confess any other way. The mythology is compelling, the emotional journeys are moving, and the treatment of diverse religious backgrounds is beautifully done: all who work toward good are seen as having common cause, no matter the external differences.

The Perilous Prophecy may well be my favorite of the Strangely Beautiful books so far. Certainly it had me reaching for the Kleenex! I only wish it had been longer. After the conclusion, Hieber includes a teaser for book four, Miss Violet and the Great War, which will tell the story of the daughter of Percy and Alexi. I can’t wait.

Cairo in the 1860s is a bustling metropolis where people from all walks of life mix and mingle, mostly in complex harmony. When evil ghosts and unquiet spirits stalk the city’s streets, the Guard are summoned—six young men and women of different cultures, backgrounds, and faiths, gifted by their Goddess with great powers. While others of the Guard embrace their duties, their leader, British-born Beatrice, is gripped by doubt. What right has she, a bookish, sheltered, eighteen-year-old, to lead others into battle? Why isn’t dark-eyed, compelling Ibrahim, who is stronger of will than Beatrice, the one in charge? Ghosts maraud through Cairo’s streets, heralding a terrible darkness. Beatrice and her Guard have little time to master their powers; a great battle looms as an ancient prophecy roars toward its final, deadly conclusion. This enchanting prequel to Leanna Renee Hieber’s gaslamp fantasy, Strangely Beautiful, returns to print after more than a decade, edited and revised for Tor’s publication.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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One comment

  1. My copy just arrived so I’m very anxious to dig into another fabulous work by the talented Miss Hieber. The Strangely Beautiful tales are among my very favorites. Such rich characterizations, evocative language and descriptions. Leanna is truly a force and draws the reader into the worlds of the Guards and Goddesses so seamlessly.

    Thanks for the review.

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