FICTION

Dreams of Gods & Monsters

528p. Little, Brown. 2014. Tr $17. ISBN 9780316134071.
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Gr 9 Up—Eliza Jones, a research fellow at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, wakes from a recurring nightmare to the discovery that angels have appeared in the sky above Uzbekistan. Unbeknownst to Eliza, she is the linchpin upon which the salvation of worlds depends. The battle is well and truly on in this finale to the "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" trilogy (Little, Brown). Star-crossed lovers Karou and Akiva have fleeting moments together as their worlds threaten to implode in a power struggle hemmed by uneasy alliances and surprise players. Jael, the psychopathic emperor, has made good on his threat to invade the human world, and human authorities, ecclesiastical and political, struggle to make sense of the shining angels negotiating for human weapons of mass destruction. With the soul of Karou's friend Siri sealed into the body of chimaera leader Thiago, the slim possibility of alliance and survival exists. Revelations and betrayals, multitudinous characters and fulfilled prophecies speed past in a blur of action and intensity. The introduction of Eliza this late in the game is convenient but useful, since she provides the knowledge that gives victory to the rebellion. Characterizations serve the plot and do not achieve any notable depth, but the momentum is more than enough to keep the pages turning. The obstacles between Karou and Akiva multiply exponentially and finally dissipate. The conclusion promises resurrection, renewal, and long-postponed love happily resolved, and that should satisfy even the most meticulous fans.—Janice M. Del Negro, GSLIS Dominican University, River Forest, IL
The trilogy's concluding book (Daughter of Smoke & Bone; Days of Blood & Starlight) adds new character Eliza Jones, who suffers apocalyptic visions and proves to be the link from past to future. For all the well-made trappings of fantasy and horror, the patchwork amalgamation of myth and legend, the machinations of plot, and the colorful ensemble characters, this story remains a romance.
Although a new, uneasy truce between chimaera and seraphim is tested by betrayal, it holds fast, allowing Karou and Akiva the chance to forgive each other and reconcile. This sets the stage for looming confrontations, not just with the despotic seraph Jael in Rome, but also with the mysterious Stelians back in Eretz. Just as the second book elevated the trilogy (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, rev. 11/11; Days of Blood & Starlight, rev. 1/13) from urban fantasy to high fantasy, so this concluding book raises it further to epic high fantasy with the addition of a new character, Eliza Jones, a doctoral candidate with a strange past who suffers apocalyptic visions and proves to be the link from past to future. For Akiva, this means becoming more powerful and godlike than anyone could have imagined. Karou enjoys a brief respite with him (at the end of the novel) before the impending war with the titular monsters: "It was not a happy ending, but a happy middle at last, after so many fraught beginnings." For all the well-made trappings of fantasy and horror, the patchwork amalgamation of myth and legend, the machinations of plot, and the colorful menagerie of ensemble characters, this story remains, at heart, a romance -- clear-eyed, tender, and satisfying. jonathan hunt

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