Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Long ago the god Cai was torn from the mortal woman he loved by Death and his fellow gods refused to let them reunite. In a rage born of loss and pain, Cai cursed a city and watched his curse doom generation after generation of humans who live on a mountainside made almost inhabitable by Cai’s curse.
Perched on a mountaintop surrounded by a frigid swamp, the rain never stops in the cursed city of Var Eldore. Here a former pleasure slave Myr lives in hiding, trying to stay a step ahead of his captor. But Myr is far more than he realizes, and fate has other plans for him. Reunited with his mate Ryall and their daughter Quinn, Myr and his family gathers together a group of disenchanted soldiers, spies, nobles, and wizards to oppose the king and all he stands for. This includes certain nobles and their houses who perpetuate slavery Myr and his following intend to fight for the freedom of their land. As they uncover secrets and conspiracies, each more tangled than the last, Myr also discovers he has unique abilities to aid their cause—the Redeemers.
As the strength of the Redeemers grows, so does the number of enemies they must face. Each member of their alliance has his or her own demons to battle, and Myr must confront the truth about himself and become the leader they need. Alongside his lover Ryall and the people who have become his family—as well as some unlikely friends—Myr and the Redeemers must prepare for war. If they fall, the city in the rain will follow.
I fell in love with Missouri Dalton when I discovered her Guidebook series (a must read that included Necromancy and You) as well as her Night Wars (The Hanged Man’s Ghost..)series. Both are exceptional supernatural series which can always be found high on my Recommendations lists. So I was thrilled to see a new story from Dalton from Dreamspinner Press and gobbled it up with a certain amount of anticipation and glee. But what I found didn’t live up to my high expectations for this author and book blurb.
What was amazing about The Curse on the Mountain was Missouri Dalton’s world building. From the vengeful god Cai to the denizens of Var Eldore, Dalton brings alive a city dark, icy cold and constantly wet from the endless rains and snow. Life is perilous unless you are weathy and on the right side of the King. For those who are poor, out of favor and just unfortunate enough to block someone’s ambitions or path to power, well, then death would be favored over the imprisonment, slavery or torture that follows. The author’s descriptions can give the reader a good case of the shivers based on the people and places that appear in her narrative.
Even Dalton’s characters hold out such promise for a suspenseful and rich story. Myr, Ryall, and fierce adopted daugher Quinn are terrifically realized people and I would have loved to have seen a story that truly focused in on them, their past history, their love and fight for freedom. Had that happened this would have been a different review.
But instead, Dalton starts piling on more characters, more relationships (old and new) as well as couples who meet, come together, mate, part so quickly that they mimic the life of a mayfly. Here and gone in a blink of a moment. Or if they reappear, its as sudden and short lived as their first appearance. Relationships and people age in a flash as time moves swiftly by as the Redeemers rebellion gains in power and strength and then we flash back to the past and prior events. And along with that ever changing time line the author gives us side stories with Cai, foul supporters of the King, evil creatures, back to Myr and Ryall, past and present, all starts to cram together until it has all the density of a 10 year old fruit cake. Yo can tell it is comprised of many different elements you would enjoy but it’s become so dense and unwieldy that it has become inedible. For me, that’s The Curse on the Mountain.
Dalton just piled on too many characters, plot threads, and elements that all get lost amidst the jumble of timelines, storylines, and relationships that keep folding back on each other. Even if you start to get a glimmer of feeling and interest in certain beings and events, the focus moves away to another part of the story and the power of those characters is lost. It makes it nigh to impossible to feel a connection to any of these people and their situations and the frustrations build as the reader tries to make sense of some of the events and happenings that occur…some threads I never did untangle in my mind. I mean I just take a look at my notes on the story and after a while all I see is a list of names and places and question marks. It’s never a good sign when you feel you should have to storyboard a novel to make sense of it all. Sigh.
Still because of the promise of the world building, the terrific mythology Dalton creates and the largess of the scope of her story, The Curse on the Mountain deserves a 3 star rating. If you are a Missouri Dalton fan, you might want to pick this up and enjoy the elements I have talked about. But if you are new to this author, I would recommend you start with her other series that I mentioned above. They are marvelously addicting and will give you a true taste of this author’s many talents as a storyteller and her wonderful writing skills. Just thinking about those stories prompts me to pull them up on my Kindle again.
Cover art by Paul Richmond. Loved this glorious cover, from its design to the colors used, it works on every level.
ebook, 214 pages, also available in paperback
Published December 29th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press