Percy Parker and Alexi Rychman have finally confessed their love for one another, and they and the Guard have scored a victory against the forces of evil. They scarcely have time to celebrate and regroup, though, before trouble finds them again.
Roughly the first third of The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker focuses mainly on Percy and Alexi’s relationship, as they announce their engagement and move quickly toward marriage. The news makes plenty of waves at Athens Academy and at the convent where Percy once lived. If you wanted more closure to the romantic plot at the end of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, you’ll find it here. Leanna Renee Hieber gives her hero and heroine a resolution fit for fairy tales. I can see now, too, why she waited until this book to tie that storyline up. If these chapters were tacked onto the end of the first book, they’d seem too long and anticlimactic. Placed at the beginning of the second book, they work perfectly. Readers get what they want, and Hieber gets the chance to juxtapose these scenes of fulfillment with hints of a threat on the horizon.
Around the one-third mark, the fantasy plot — previously in the background — takes center stage. Old enemies are rising again, and it becomes clear that Percy will have to venture into the spectral Whisper-world alone if she is to thwart the designs of Darkness, Hieber’s “Hades” figure. Yet she will not be without help. I think I teared up a bit when I realized what all those blue dots on the Guard’s map represented. Hieber skillfully describes both the gruesome landscapes of the underworld and the beauty of Good’s transcendent powers, and places them in a quickly moving plot that will keep readers frantically turning pages. And it’s wonderful to watch Percy’s continued growth. She’s gone from a timid convent girl to a brave woman who can stand up to Kings of the Underworld and snarky math professors alike, while still being recognizably the same character.
Like its predecessor, The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker comes to a satisfying close but leaves room for future stories starring these or different characters. Along the way, Hieber gives us plenty of her lovely, delicate prose, and a few moments that are riotously funny.
If anything, I wanted more! Specifically, I would have liked to see more development of one of the secondary romances, filling in the gap between the ending and the epilogue. Hieber has a forthcoming short story that will address this; the story is titled “A Christmas Carroll” and will appear in the anthology A Midwinter Fantasy, to be published by Dorchester in October 2010.