Naamah’s Kiss (book, Jacqueline Carey, 2009)
From SFX 192.
Jacqueline Carey/ Gollancz/645 pages/£14.99
Destinied young forest witch conducts alternative world shagathon.
They say that romantic fantasy featuring angels will be the next big thing, but you could argue Jacqueline Carey got there first with her saucy alternative history saga. The main stage of this now lengthy saga is Terre D’Ange, a retooled France founded by rebel angels. As angels are all about love and that, in Terre D’Ange all kinds of eyebrow-raising sexual antics are permitted, and this new series’ protagonist, Moirin embraces them whole-heartedly.
Moirin comes from Alba (a Britain which those dirty Saxons never invaded). On her mother’s side she’s the scion of a dying breed of magicians who live in the woods. Naturally, it turns out she has a great destiny that will lead her from her cosy forest to Terre D’Ange and as far as the celestial empire of the Ch’in.
Carey is an engaging writer, her characters big-hearted, but like so much heroic fantasy, Naamah’s Kiss is soap. Carey’s reimagined Earth is simplistic, concocted from twee yearnings for kinder world where fate is challenging but non-arbitrary. Moirin’s dad is an Angeline priest of Naamah (imagine Aphrodite crossed with a naughty French maid), so she turns out to be the chosen not only of the ancient Alban Bear Goddess but also of this open-minded ex-angel. The wide-eyed, star-crossed rut fest that follows Moirin’s sexual awakening becomes tiresome as the girl boffs her way halfway around the world, seducing queen and commoner alike. But, this is that kind of fantasy, and surely if two words go together then they are ‘sex’ and ‘fantasy’. Still, although there are demons, dragons, kung fu and intrigue here, in the end one wishes for a little more derring-do and a little less sexy time.
Did you know?
Carey created Terre D’Ange to be a world where she’d like to live. As she’s a bisexual, she wanted to have a society that was not concerned by same-sex unions.