Monday, April 14, 2008

Windwalker's Mate by Margaret L. Carter

TITLE: Windwalker’s Mate
AUTHOR: Margaret L. Carter
PUBLISHER: Amber Quill
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 62k)
GENRE: Horror romance
COST: $7.00

Shannon Bryce is terrified. Her four-year-old son is exhibiting psychic powers she desperately wants to suppress, but all her attempts to squelch them are backfiring. He was conceived during a cult ritual where the cult leader wished to create the child of the Windwalker, a god of dark powers from another dimension. Shannon escaped the cult in time to save herself, but the past is catching up to her. The leader is back, as is his son…who also happens to be her son’s biological father...the question remains, can she now save her son?

I was trying to describe the plot of this story to some friends after reading it. After three different attempts and a lot of blank looks, I gave up. I couldn’t do it. I sat on this, hoping it would become clearer, but when that didn’t happen, I decided to just write the review. I’m not sure I can summarize it without it sounding silly, when, in execution, it’s really not. Because there’s a cult, and a demonic god from another dimension, and a four-year-old little boy whose psychic powers seem pretty limitless, and this whole opening of the gate between dimensions to destroy the world…and you can see why I might look a little odd trying to explain it.

Ultimately, though the story is billed as paranormal romance, it works most effectively as horror. Shannon is suitably fearful of her son’s powers. The nervousness she has is believable and well-built, so much so that when Nathan isn’t quite as scared as she is, he lost sympathy points for me. Nathan is Daniel’s biological father, and while he expresses concern, searching her out when he fears for her safety, his curiosity and fascination with all the evil stuff they were involved in made it hard for me to like him. I think it’s because I’m a mother, with a boy close to Daniel’s age. I identified a lot with Shannon. I never understood why she would be so willing to accept some of his advances when it was obvious how much more important her son was to her than he was to Nathan.

When it comes to the prose, it’s mostly evocative and tightly written. Don’t let the extremely purple prose at the very beginning of the book fool you. It opens with: A vast, jagged landscape stretched before her. A shimmering, pale violet effulgence pervaded it like a luminous fog. I almost stopped there. It’s describing a dream, and while I’m sure it’s meant to be atmospheric, it’s so over the top that it’s too much. Thankfully, the rest of the book is not like that. The over-description vanishes for the most part once Shannon wakes up from this nightmare, and the phrasing simplifies into something still original without all the word baggage.

Tension is tight and nicely paced, and if the book travels familiar ground sometimes – “You're suggesting we should have sex to get our telepathy back?” for instance – it doesn’t detract too badly from the experience. Vaguely haunting with a side of creepy. Just don’t go along strictly for the romance.


8/10 – In spite of a very purple initial scene, most of the story is evocative enough to be original without getting heavy-handed.


5/10 – His reasons for his fascination with the Windwalker are never explained enough, which makes it difficult to make him sympathetic and not creepy.


7/10 – Her maternal angst and realistic reactions give her depth that makes her later actions more credible.

Entertainment value

7/10 – It works far better as a horror story than a romance, because it’s too easy to side with Shannon’s fear in the first 2/3’s of the book.

World building

8/10 – The depth of the cult is nicely explored, as is the heroine’s rising fears.



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