Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Black Lotus by Claire Warner

When I read the synopsis of this book, I was thinking "oh cool, historical fiction. And a hint of something special. I can probably deal with the romance." Unfortunately, while the backdrop to the world was interesting, the starting and the protagonist irritated me so much that I couldn't really enjoy the book.

The Black Lotus is about Melissa De Vire, who's making her debut into society. She's not normal, having learnt to shoot from her brother, but her parents are really strict so she has to make a good match. Oh, and she's drop dead gorgeous. That basically screamed "Mary Sue" to me. Anyway, at her first party, after she's presented to the King, she meets the "cad" Justin Lestrade, and despite the fact that she's warned about him, ends up talking to him anyway. But Justin isn't human, and now that Melissa's got his attention...

Ok, I'm going to start with the things I didn't like, and when I'm done, go on to the stuff I like.

First, Melissa. Melissa just annoyed me. It may be because I've been reading Limyaael's Fantasy Rants lately, but you're telling me that a properly raised girl in that society is going to start questioning the social order on her first day out? True, her brother seems unconventional, but her father is strict and very about propriety. Her mother listens to the dad. So how is it that she questions everything? It's as though she's a modern girl in a medieval period, and that really annoyed me. (And she seems to have no problems swearing - did ladies of the time do that?). If it was a gradual change, I might understand, but Melissa is presented as this "feisty modern girl" from the start, and it just did not ring true for me. It rang "Mary Sue".

The book might have been very accurate with regard to details, but to be honest, Melissa's striking modernity prevented me from seeing any of it.

Next, Lestrade. Lestrade was more likable than Melissa, but he was still very flat. The rake who falls in love is a trope, and if your character is that, a bit more needs to be done to bring him to life for me. It got a bit predictable, to be honest.

Oh, and the insta-love. If you've been reading my reviews, you know I'm not a fan of insta-love. There have been a few cases where it sort of works for me, but those are few and this is not one of them. Melissa and Justin have no real chance for proper interaction (I think less than 5?), and how can you fall in love so quickly and deeply after a few conversations? They don't go through experiences together, and that's the main problem for me. There was this moment where I thought Melissa had some recognition of the fact, but then it passed. And while the two may have tried to deny it, denying it then going "but there's something so special about her" is unconvincing. If you're as old as you say you are, why are you acting like that?

Now on to the things I liked.

I quite liked the little I saw of Emily and Katherine. Katherine's mindset felt very realistic to me, and Emma plays the part of the reckless devil-may-care character well. It's possible that I'd get sick of Emma if she appears too much, but I see a lot of potential in Katherine. If only she were the main character.

I liked the background secret. I can't say too much without giving it away, but Justin and his "family"? The way they interacted, how alliances were formed/broken/there was never an alliance, that was cool. If this was the main thing, and the romance a side plot, I would have liked this a lot better.

The "good" parts may have seemed short, but they almost saved the book. Almost. Unfortunately, because of Melissa, i never got into the book. So little odd sentences like
"No puce is a wonderful colour if utilised properly" (Shouldn't it be "No, puce is a wonderful colour if utilised properly"?)

became an irritant to me. They appeared often enough (a couple of times in every chapter) that it tilted the book into two stars territory.

This book had a lot of potential. I liked the background behind Justin and his family, as well as his interactions with them. It's just a pity I didn't like Melissa (and to a lesser extant, Justin), and wasn't even the slightest bit convinced about their relationship.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author via Enchanted Blog Tours in exchange for a free and honest review.


  1. I have "read" a few books like that; they are set back in a time period but then the MC (always a girl) seems from 2000s! I can't stand it and just DNF them.

  2. I have "read" a few books like that; they are set back in a time period but then the MC (always a girl) seems from 2000s! I can't stand it and just DNF them.

    1. Yup. Especially if they were raised "right". I'd expect a lot more conventional thinking from that time period.


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