On Wings, Rising
by Ann Somerville, futuristic (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-60504-205-6


In a town called Getake on some distant planet, we have our hero Dinun qel Noto who is considered an outcast by most of the other folks in town because he is open about enjoying sex with men. To support himself and his three kids, he makes trips to the rural surroundings outside the city to hunt and forage for anything that he can trade with one of the few folks who are willing to accept him in that place. It is during one of this trips that he stumbles upon an Angel with a broken wing. No, Angels in this story are not the holy hoity-toity types - they are just another species of humanoids and they therefore shag without qualms, as Dinun will find out soon enough. The Angel is on a mission, however, and soon Dinun finds himself helping his new lover heal as well as save the day in a plot that is greater in magnitude than Dinun would initially suspect.

The Angel can't communicate by speech, only telepathy, so this is one of those stories where the author has to resort to italics to get the Angel's thoughts and sentiments across. Ms Somerville also uses italics coupled with colons to convey the Angel's emotions.

"Me too." Dinun reached down and took Moon�s hand. "If it goes well, you'll have your baby back in an hour."

"Must." ::Determined::

"Yeah, we must. Remember, we can't kill them. At least, we have to try not to."

"Understand."

Dinun stroked Moon�s wing, then resumed the horizon search.

Personally, I find the ::feeling:: thing distracting because it looks really odd. I can't help feeling that the author should have just let the reader infer what the Angel is feeling through the clipped conversations he has with Dinun. In the excerpt I have used as an example, I'm pretty sure we can all infer that the Angel, Moon, is determined to get that child back so the ::Determined:: thing is redundant.

Apart from the ::emotion:: thing that I find awkward to look at (yes, I'm so petty, I know), I don't really have many issues with this story. The characters are fine. Dinun comes off like a character in his own right instead of some sensitive gay guy created to fit the gay romance formula. The Angel doesn't speak and for a long time he is shrouded in enigma, but Ms Somerville does a pretty good job in presenting the Angel as a character who may be different but is also similar in many ways to Dinun. The Angel could have easily mutate into a one-dimensional noble child-like fellow but Ms Somerville deftly evades that trap.

The last few chapters feel rather rushed though when compared to earlier parts of the story, as the author wraps things up by giving expositions on what happened instead of showing me these events. Perhaps this one should have been a longer work so that the author could have the opportunity to develop the plot in a more satisfactory manner?

On Wings, Rising - great title, I must say - is an intriguing and entertaining story, typical of what I have come to expect from this author. At the same time, the story winds down to a conclusion in a manner that I find far from satisfying. It's a pretty good read, but it is also a story that I feel could have been better.

Rating: 80


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