Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Prospero in Hell by L Jagi Lamplighter

WARNING: I try to avoid spoilers, but they are possible (even probable), since this is the second book of the Prospero's Daughter Trilogy. Prospero Lost is the first. I recommend reading them in order.

I don't think I've ever read a series that so seamlessly mixes history in with high magic. While many describe this as urban fantasy, I feel like it is more akin to a modern fairy tale than anything else.

Book description from The search of a daughter for her father is but the beginning of this robust fantasy adventure. For five hundred years since the events of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Miranda has run Prospero, Inc., protecting an unknowing world from disasters both natural and man-made. Now her father has been taken prisoner of dark spirits in a place she could only guess. Piecing together clues about her father’s whereabouts and discovering secrets of her shrouded past, she comes to an inescapable conclusion she has dreaded since Prospero was lost.

Prospero has been imprisoned in Hell, kept there by demons who wish to extract a terrible price in exchange for his freedom. As the time of reckoning for Miranda draws near, she realizes that hundreds of years of their family’s magic may not be enough to free her once-powerful father from the curse that could destroy them...and the world.

It's pretty hard to review Prospero in Hell without major spoilers, because the plot twists are such a great part of this novel, I think. There are some fairly enormous, integral pieces of information you receive in this book. Nonetheless, the plot is exciting and I felt like it moved faster than the previous novel did.

I found this story to be darker than the first. The first half of the novel feels like a continuation of Prospero Lost: a fairly lighthearted exploration of Miranda's world and history. We finally meet the rest of Miranda's siblings, and we are given more information about their extensive lives. I can only imagine the historical research Lamplighter must have done for this book to fill in 500+ years of the siblings' lives, not to mention all the mystical creatures and classic literature references.

Some not so great things happen, though, and the last half takes a darker turn. The Prospero siblings, as hinted at in the book description, finally make it into hell. It isn't fire and guys with pitchforks. It's a dark, horrible, twisted, sickening place, modeled after Dante's Inferno for the most part. The bad guys present in this book are truly evil, something which isn't really elaborated on in Prospero Lost. The portrait Lamplighter paints of hell is disturbing, putting it mildly.

Generally, I don't particularly like sequel baiting, and this book has a big one at the end. Things are going great, you think you've got it all figured out, and then literally in the last two pages or so everything goes bad. I'm not looking forward to having to wait for the next one at all.

There is a fair amount of character development in this book. You find out more about Miranda, who finds her own very steady personality and temperament changing after 500 years. As you meet her family, Miranda shares her memories of her siblings, giving you a better idea of what they are like. However, we still do not know much about Cornelius and Ulysses. I'm hoping we will find out more about them in the next book.

As previously mentioned in my Prospero Lost review, while the cosmology is distinctly Christian, there is a smattering of other religions thrown in. However, there is more talk of salvation in this novel, and we encounter more angels and demons. It is gnostic and mystic enough, though, that I did not feel I was being preached at. It doesn't read like Christian fiction, which I appreciate.

All in all, Prospero in Hell is a very enjoyable read, and left me wanting more. I'm so excited that a writer like Lamplighter is on the scene. These books deserve far more publicity than they receive. I can't wait to read the concluding novel of the series, Prospero Regained. No firm publication date is set yet, just sometime in 2011, but I very much hope it comes out soon!

Bottom Line
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
Buy or Try? Buy
More? 2 / 3 in projected trilogy. All are written, 2 are published

Plot: 4 / 5
Setting: 5 / 5 (wowsers.)
Characters: 4 / 5
Pace: Middlin' to Fast (while only over a few days, LOTS happens to move the story forward)
Descriptiveness: Prose
Fantasy factor: Magical Realism (most of the book still takes place on earth) link


tuulenhaiven said...

Read this review, and your review of the first book and I'm definitely intrigued. I like further explorations of Shakespeare plays, and this sounds quite expansive. I'll keep and eye out for the series!

Escapist said...

Yay! I hope you like it. :)

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