Friday, April 19, 2019

Book Review - Alison Goodman's Lusus Naturae: A Lord Carlston Story

Lusus Naturae: A Lord Carlston Story by Alison Goodman
Published by: Speak
Publication Date: July 1st, 2016
Format: ebook, 51 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Download*

Lord Carlston has returned to England to see if the late Lady Catherine was right about her daughter Helen, that she is a rare direct inheritor of Reclaimer powers. Such an occurrence could mean many things, but in Reclaimer lore it means that a great evil will rise, a Grand Deceiver. This possibility has led Lord Carlston to face the enmity of the ton. He was driven from England three years prior for the murder of his wife, though no body was ever found. His duties have led him to the last place he wants to be on returning to England, part of the clamoring crowd waiting for all the young debutantes to be presented to the Queen and under the gimlet eyes of their mothers. But it affords him the opportunity to catch up with his dear friend and fellow Dark Days Club member Beau Brummel while surreptitiously watching Lady Helen before her debut. While his main purpose attending this event was to meet Lady Helen he cannot ignore the appearance of a Deceiver in their midst. A Deceiver that obviously wants to parlay. The Deceiver, Solanski, promises Lord Carlston information if he will check his mentor, the renowned Reclaimer Benchley, who has been breaking the accord between their kinds, killing Deceivers who are abiding by the rules. Lord Carlston agrees and Solanski confirms that there is a Grand Deceiver... To Lord Carlston it looks like Lady Helen might be their only hope.

What's great about authors writing little stories that fit into their larger series is that they're willing to experiment more with a concept that would otherwise be tossed aside as incompatible with the main books. The "Lady Helen" series by Alison Goodman by it's name alone shows that it follows Lady Helen and is told exclusively from her point of view. There's no switching of characters, no narrative gymnastics, it's all Lady Helen all the time. Therefore this short story is a welcome change of pace. I wouldn't want to see the complete story through the eyes of Lord Carlston, but seeing this one moment, when Lady Helen's and Lord Carlston's paths first cross, it's fascinating, not so much because of Lord Carlston but because we get to see Helen in a different light. Rarely in books do characters sit around and physically describe what they look like. There's usually a passing reference to hair color or height, but it's up to the readers imagination to fill in the rest. Having this short story immediately follow the first book wherein we've already formed a specific view of Helen hearing Lord Carslton's thoughts about her looks and that defiant jaw made me think about her from the outside instead of the inside and somehow this really brought home to me how the other Reclaimers might be worried about this girl being their only hope.

Though this story is also clever in that it helped bridge the one year gap between the first and second books in the series, a time during when details and specifics might become fuzzy in the readers minds. Therefore this story is very neatly done as a reclarification of what the Deceivers AKA the demons of this world are and what exactly the purpose of a Reclaimer is. I say it's neatly done because I really hate when the first few chapters of a book in a series is basically rehashing what we already know and you're just sitting there thinking, are you going to get on with it already? In fact that is how I felt through the entire first episode of the new season of Game of Thrones. The episode was all, hey, remember where we were? And I was all, hey, yes I do, and remember you only have six episode to wrap this all up and you just wasted one of them? Get to the killing already! So thank you Alison for thinking of a nice little alternative to creating reader rage. What's more with the conversation between Lord Carlston and Solanski we not only see that the Deceivers are a little worried about how crazy Benchley has become, I mean, come on, he committed the Ratcliff Highway murders after all, but Solanski definitively states that a Grand Deceiver is here. This is yet another Deceiver warning about what is coming and it fits in so well to know that Lord Carlston knew all along and is therefore more receptive to Lady Helen when she gives him this information, but also why he's willing to help her. I love something I thought I knew shifting every so slightly into a new light!

*This short story is also contained in the paperback edition of The Dark Days Club.


Newer Post Older Post Home