The Prince Of Frogs
by Annaliese Evans, historical/fantasy (2009)
Tor, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-6167-7


The aptly titled The Prince Of Frogs is the second book in Annaliese Evans's historical fantasy series. I'm not sure what the title of this series is, but this one is an actual sequel to Night's Rose. I actually think that this story can actually stand alone rather well even if you have not read the previous book, but to be on the safe side, you may want to read the previous book first.

There is a downside to reading the previous book, though. The author for some reason telegraphed in Night's Rose her characters' issues and angst in this book, so The Prince Of Frogs is less of a surprise if you had read that previous book. Anyway, I will try to avoid spoiling both books too much in this review as this book is best read when you allow yourself to know as little as possible about the twists and turns of this story.

Okay, so where we left off, Rosemarie Edenburg has married Gareth the vampire while having an uneasy truce with her former mentor Ambrose Minuit. The love triangle is still intact, as, after all, Ambrose says here that he's not going to let the fact that she is married stop him from trying to make her his. Meanwhile, Rosemarie has also learned by the end of the last book that she has, er, impeccable blood lines, let's just say. And now, she and Gareth are going to be embroiled waist-deep in Seelie and Fae de la Nuit politics even as Rosemarie finds herself tormented by dreams involving an ancient entity who could turn out to be the biggest foe of all spooks in this story.

I have been deliberately very vague in the above synopsis, but trust me, if you are going to read this book, I am being vague for your own good. I will tell you this, though. Unlike Night's Rose, which at least pretended for the first few chapters that Rosemarie kicks rear ends, The Prince Of Frogs is not a fast-paced action-packed romantic urban fantasy. Angst and soap opera elements dominate this story as Rosemarie tries, sometimes desperately, to deny that both men in her lives may be hiding things from her, things that she should be told.

The trouble here is that, if you have read the previous book, you may feel the same way as I do. That book pretty much gives away the fact that Rosemarie should not trust Gareth so blindly, so when Rosemarie tries so hard to do just that in the early parts of this story, I can see the heartbreak coming from a mile away. Likewise, Rosemarie and Gareth married too quickly in the last book, in my opinion, especially when it's clear to me that her feelings for Ambrose are more complicated than her shallow love for Gareth. Therefore, I'm not surprised when Ambrose and Rosemarie realize in this book how much they are still drawn to each other.

Still, despite the telegraphed twists and turns, I still find this story a very compelling read. I can't stop reading once I start. I have an aversion to weak heroines, but while technically Rosemarie is weak here, Ms Evans manages to reel my heart into breaking along with Rosemarie's. The build-up of all that mistrust, paranoia, desperation, and confusion to that inevitable confrontation between Rosemarie, Gareth, and Ambrose is fantastic, and as for that confrontation scene... wow. I actually have my mouth wide open in thrilled surprise as I turn the pages during that dramatic moment.

[spoiler starts] Unfortunately, Ms Evans then dilutes the fantastic impact of that scene by having Gareth return from the dead. Yes, it will be more cozy to have both brothers Gareth and Ambrose get the woman they love in a ménage à trois instead of having Barbara Dickson come on stage to mournfully sing Tell Me It's Not True. But I think the story would have been even more fantastic if Gareth was allowed to die, leaving Ambrose and Rosemarie to deal with the consequences of their actions that led up to that point. If Gareth was allowed to die, the subsequent angst will be just too beautiful to behold. I'm not saying this just because I loathe Gareth with the sparkling intensity of a thousand Cullens, mind you. [spoiler ends]

The Prince Of Frogs, is, in conclusion, a very engaging and interesting angst-driven story. The world building is good, the atmosphere is fine, but oh my, all those emotions just threaten to singe the pages. As much as I often think that the main characters are just being unnecessarily melodramatic at times, I find myself drawn into their web of mistrust, insecurities, jealousies, and, of course, love. Ms Evans is good in reeling me in that way despite my reservations about this book. If I was wishy-washy before about this series, I'm definitely onboard after finishing this book.

Rating: 85


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