The year is 1433. Seraphim d’Ange is a young woman riding through France on a quest for revenge. The de Morte brothers attacked the d’Ange castle, killing Seraphim’s family. Seraphim was raped, wounded, and left for dead. Now she is disguised as “the Black Knight” and killing off the de Morte brothers one by one. Two down, three to go.
All of this takes place before Seraphim begins. Sera is now preparing to eradicate the third brother. She and her squire, Baldwin, meet a stranger on their journey, who joins them when it turns out that he has similar aims. The stranger is Dominique St. Juste, a handsome man with faery blood. Sparks fly.
Michele Hauf attempts an elevated, old-fashioned style, but breaks that tone with anachronisms: using “teen” to describe Baldwin, for example, and having people say “Really?” or “So?” The names don’t help either. Not only are the names unsubtly symbolic, but they don’t fit the place and time — this is supposed to be set in the real, historical France, where it’s unlikely that anyone was named Seraphim or Gossamer.
It may sound silly to quibble about anachronistic names when there are faeries and demons running around. When I read historical fantasy, though, I like to suspend disbelief and imagine that it really could have happened this way, but that the magical parts were “lost to history.” It doesn’t work when I can’t believe the “realistic” aspects of the story.
I got about 100 pages into Seraphim; thus far there has been little plot development except for the unfolding of the backstory. Instead the book is focused on bickering and bantering among Sera, Baldwin, and Dominique, which is made confusing by head-hopping and (at times) too few dialogue tags. I finally gave up when Dominique started brooding about an anti-faery comment Seraphim made — a comment she made to Baldwin when Dominique was not present. If a book is engaging in other ways, I can overlook errors like that, but in this case it was the last straw.