I grudgingly admit this was less bad than I expected. The second and third stories, in particular, managed to capture some of the charm of the original books. And yet.
Look--these are not by any stretch of the imagination good
books. I cheerfully refer to them as my "magical cock rings and unicorns" novels. The original trilogy was an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink, write-straight-from-the-id kind of thing. And, at least for me, it worked
. Watching Jaenelle grow up and build a family was compelling. (We'll ignore the overarching plot and scene-chewing villains; lord knows I skip those sections when I reread.) Every chapter there was something new
. People with tiger stripes! Unicorns! Baby dragons! Turning off the sun! Learning to paint from the (now-dead) greatest painter who ever lived! It's a crazy patchwork quilt of randomness that left me always curious about what the author would come up with next.
And then, somehow, in the sequels . . . that inventiveness, that shameless willingness to go over-the-top and beyond, faded away. The cast of millions contracted to focus on just a few key relationships, and those relationships became repetitive beyond belief. The tiger people disappeared unmentioned. The endless parade of kindred races became limited to sheepdogs.
Or, to summarize, magical cock ring count in this book? One. Unicorn count in this book? One. Anne Bishop, I am disappointed in you.
I was also more annoyed that I would have predicted by the complete absence of Wilhelmina. For a book that's so focused on family and the importance of family ties, I thought abandoning Jaenelle's one beloved blood relative was bizarre. And while Karla makes an appearance, Jaenelle's other best friend, Gabrielle, has also more or less vanished. I miss the strong female friendships. Even if they were more told than shown, they were one of the things that made the trilogy appealing.
Still, I think I'm glad I read it, if only to see the Falonar and Sylvia threads tied off and know the series is now complete.