Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by L.R. Hieber

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

I love reading the unexpected. I love reading something that is beautifully written. And, I love funky paranormal business. This book, which is beautifully, beautifully written, totally unlike anything else I have ever read, and chock full of great paranormal scenes, is a unique addition to the world of "historical paranormal gothic romance"? Not exactly sure how to categorize this baby, especially since I think the romance in this book is probably the weakest part.

Let's start with the good stuff. Leanna Renee Hieber (tres romantic name, n'est-ce pas?) can write with the big boys. Her voice is lovely, her prose is excellent. I don't remember the last time I read something so well written. Bravo, Ms. Hieber! She does a remarkably good job building the suspense in this book, as well as weaving the paranormal aspect into the story line. Percy Parker, an albino cast-off from a convent, is a one-of-a-kind heroine, truly unique. But it felt as if she spent most of the book in a muddle, confused about who she is, what she is supposed to do, what her visions really mean, etc. etc. Right up to the last page she is still confused. Professor Alexi Rychman is the ultimate gothic hero, complete with sweeping black cape. Hieber's imagery describing her hero is excellent! Dark, brooding, intense. Awesome! His band of cohorts has a nice chemistry, and they are definitely intriguing.

Unfortunately, Percy and Alexi's relationship creeped me out a little bit. She is only 18/19 years old, and his student. Their "love" felt more like a teenage infatuation on her part, and a strange, unexpected fascination on his part. The few times they kiss (and when Alexi is struggling with a physical attraction to her) were the only times in the book I felt the narrative became strained and awkward. Their "love" worked better on a metaphysical level.

My biggest concern with the book was the "black" moment of Percy and Alexi's relationship, and its resolution. Alexi is horribly cruel to Percy, and she is devastated beyond belief. After all this intense melodrama and the subsequent over-the-top paranormal climax, Percy regains consciousness and forgives him so easily, it's fairly ridiculous. A few lines of dialogue and they are professing their love for each other. Oh well!

I wanted to post a snippet from one of my favorite scenes, when Percy is dancing in Alexi's office to Mozart's Requiem, with the ghosts surrounding her...

"Like a butterfly shedding its chrysalis, Percy tossed her shawl, glasses and gloves upon the desk and abandoned herself, as the spirits did, to the music, sharing a bond with them that went beyond colouration. Her skirts spun out around her." Love that simile!!!!

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is strange, and beautiful, and a breath of fresh air in the romance industry. I am looking forward to reading more of Leanna Hieber's work. Grade: B+