santa olivia

Sunday, March 29

i first discovered Jacqueline Carey years ago through a review at which, due to link rot, i can no longer find. the gist of the review (as i remember it) was that her Kushiel's Legacy series was an intriguing look at politics disguised as sexy fantasy novels. understandably compelling. so i picked up, ironically, the first book of the Kushiel's Scion series, which actually comes after the Legacy books -- a little confusing, but sufficiently followable to get me hooked on her and the entire Legacy/Scion set.

i read them all and then, as tends to happen when you read books, they were over. sigh.

add that nostalgia to my triumph at having dug myself out from under the avalanche of ARCs at work, and you can understand my glee at locating a review copy of Santa Olivia, her newest novel. especially after skimming the back -- the combination of the phrase "Wolf-Man" with the heroine's name, Loup Garron (which, as any Dresden Files fan will know, is a play on the loup-garou werewolf legend) led me to believe that i had in my hands a contemporary werewolf novel.

this is not exactly the case. let's just say that no one is furry. however, this should not deter any SF/F fans from giving it a read because, like her Kushiel books, it's an intriguing look at politics disguised as a sexy science fiction novel.

Carey takes the politics of terror, specifically, and sets the story in an America that, while theoretically a future dystopia, is eerily familiar. Santa Olivia has all the components of a great story -- action (she manages to make boxing interesting, which to me is no mean feat), sex (less than her other works, but still plenty) and romance, endearing characters, and an excellently gritty feel to the setting and language -- but more importantly, it does what really good science fiction can do: it shines a very bright spotlight on things we'd rather overlook. how easily we give up freedom, how hard it is to regain, and what compels us to work that hard are integral questions here, questions that, while they're answered for Loup Garron, will leave readers wondering what their own answers might be.

this political touch, plus the sections of the novel narrated by teenaged Loup, make this a good candidate for a YA crossover as well, specifically the highschool crowd. Santa Olivia pubs late May 2009.