REVIEW: Daughter of Mystery (Alpennia #1) by Heather Rose Jones
Margerit Sovitre did not expect to inherit the Baron Saveze’s fortunes—and even less his bodyguard. The formidable Barbara, of unknown parentage and tied to the barony for secretive reasons, is a feared duelist, capable of defending her charges with efficient, deadly force.
Equally perplexing is that while she is now a highly eligible heiress, Margerit did not also inherit the Saveze title, and the new baron eyes the fortunes he lost with open envy. Barbara, bitter that her servitude is to continue, may be the only force that stands between Margerit and the new Baron’s greed—and the ever deeper layers of intrigue that surround the ill-health of Alpennia’s prince and the divine power from rituals known only as The Mysteries of the Saints.
At first Margerit protests the need for Barbara’s services, but soon she cannot imagine sending Barbara away—for reasons of state and reasons of the heart.
Heather Rose Jone debuts with a sweeping story rich in intrigue and the clash of loyalties and love.
Dear Heather Rose Jones,
I got interested in your book after I saw it mentioned on File 770. I bought it a while ago so I did not remember much from the review that intrigued me except that it talked about fantasy, adventure and lesbian romance. This sounded exactly like my cup of tea, however I started the book twice and put it down before I managed to finish it just now before writing this review.
I will be honest first few chapters (despite very good writing) bored me silly.
I was not sure why I should care about Margerit. Oh she seemed like a nice enough young woman, who wanted to be a scholar and who suddenly inherited a fortune from the godfather she did not know too well and, together with that fortune, she inherited her godfather’s duelist Barbara.
Was Barbara the late baron’s slave? Well, the story the baron told Barbara was that he bought her, so in the beginning my answer was absolutely yes. She was treated well, but she did not seem to have personal freedom to leave his employment, and as I said Margerit seemed to inherit her with her Godfather’s fortune. The man promised Barbara to free her upon his death but never did. Ooops.
Margerit attempts to free Barbara when the will is read, but it becomes clear that she would lose the inheritance if she tries and that in a couple of years when she and Barbara reach the majority, some other terms in the will shall come into play and Barbara’s situation may change. So she becomes Margerit’s bodyguard (armin) and duelist if needed. It seemed that the narrative wanted me to accept her situation and move along which I tried to do.
And then we are dealing with Margerit’s adjustment to her new role as heiress and her figuring out how to leave her uncle’s house and start her own household in order to start attending lectures in the university and I just did not care. I was not sure why Margerit was interesting as a character and I even felt guilty because here is the woman who is supposedly living in the fictional equivalent of 18 or 19 century European country (not sure which one – some reviews said Austria, some reviews said Germany, I will leave it up to the readers to decide which country Alpenia reminded them the most of) and who wants to escape the conventional route of marriage for her and become a scholar.
I *should have * loved her journey and empathized with her, but I did not and I place the blame solely on the writing for failing to convince me .
Did you know that Margerit has a gift? Only what are the implications of that gift had not become clear to me till 57% of the long book (over 6000 locations ) on my kindle. See, for a long time I could not figure out why the heck the story would belong in the fantasy genre. Oh, I understood that since it was not strictly historical, it could be called historical fantasy for that reason alone, but reviews talked about magic and I was reading and thinking – hey magic, please feel free to show up any time now.
Eventually I realized that the religious ritual of mysteries (asking saints to answer people’s prayers) was supposed to be the magic of this book, and Margerit’s gift laid in that area, but once again for the longest time it was discussed in such an abstract way that I could not figure out why should I care. It seemed like such an important point and something Margerit enjoyed reading about and wanting to study and I was growing more and more impatient, wondering when will we see mysteries in action. This happened in the second half of the book and overall the second half moved faster than the first one which I liked, but I still failed to be fascinated if that makes sense.
There is a building romance in the book which should be very much front and center. I really liked Barbara and by the end of the book I stopped being irritated by Margerit, but I felt no chemistry between them ( the romance is not explicit but when I talk about the lack of chemistry it is not a substitute for the lack of sex). They seemed to become good friends, but I just did not see them as lovers.