Dance Of The Gods
by Ann Mayburn, fantasy (2011)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-59578-845-0
Imagine, if you will, an alternate Earth where a god communicates with his Chosens via email. Hey, don't laugh. This is how Sean Kalmus, our hero, receives his latest mission from Maponus, the Celtic God of Music. He has to rescue our virginal heroine, Carmella Ramirez, from her dire fate.
Carmella has suffered from every hard knock you can imagine - yes, her father died, her mother got cancer and then vanished after her medical bills paupered Carmella, and now the poor darling is playing the mistreated stepdaughter in a samba school when all she wants is an education. But that's not the worst of it. You see, every night, a succubus possesses her body to victimize horndogs in the name of Guaricana, the evil god of S&M. Granted, given that Evil Carmella's victims tend to be adulterers and deviants, I don't see anything that bad about what she is doing, but I guess when Guaricana decides to have Carmella sacrificed, that's just crossing the line. So yes, it's Sean to the rescue.
The synopsis suggests that I will be getting some kind of cheesy urban fantasy romp, but there really isn't much of a story here. First, I'm told plenty about Carmella's sad life, and then she meets Sean, they have sex, and then it's very late in the story and some things quickly happen to give our darlings a happy ending. I know this is a novella, so I'm not really expecting much when it comes to characterization and depths. But here, the author spends too much time building up her story, so much so that her characters are forced to rush into sex, some perfunctory drama with evil S&M fiends, and finally, abruptly, love. As you can probably imagine, the story meanders slowly out of the gate only to suddenly start rushing for the finish line when it's time to wrap things up.
Dance Of The Gods isn't the most memorable tale around, but it's really too bad that the thing I will remember most about it is how awkwardly paced the story is. What could have been interesting ends up like an agonizingly slow meandering crawl through a park on a long boring afternoon.
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