Author: Vera Nazarian
Publisher: Norilana Books, 2013
Author Vera Nazarian once again masterfully evokes a historical setting with sheer class. What I always appreciate about her writing is her ability to make me think I’ve picked up a title written at the turn of the century, which is deeply satisfying – and I love quality fiction.
Cobweb Bride is set in a fictitious European empire during the Renaissance, and is a tale spun from numerous points of view. Death has been personified à la Pratchett and Gaiman, and presently resides in a mysterious keep situated in the northern forests. Only now he refuses to do his work until his Cobweb Bride is brought to him. In addition, there’s a not-so-small problem. Until his demand is met, and a suitable bride is found, no one’s going to die.
So, whether folks are hacked into bloody bits during combat, animals are butchered or crops are harvested, no one and nothing will die, and it doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to see how the implications of this shift in reality will play out. Take a
moment, pause, and think about it. Not so nice, hey? Even if you starve to death, you’re going to be caught in a limbo state, unable to cross over.
So, while her grandmother lies in a state of a perpetual death rattle, Persephone – or Percy, as she likes to be called – sets off with a bunch of other young women to seek Death’s keep in the dead of winter. Sounds easy? Not so much when there’s an undead duke seeking to take advantage of the sad state of affairs, and the Cobweb Bride is not so easy to find as one would expect.
If there was one nitpick I’d have it’s the huge amount of love Nazarian has for the word “suddenly”. She uses it. A lot. So much so that it jumped out of the pages and grabbed me by the eyeballs and shook me around a bit. But that didn’t make me want to throw the Kindle out the window.
And I felt for her characters, and admit my favourite was Beltain Chidair, the somewhat reluctant Black Knight. Somehow know that there was a real person under that scary black armour made it for me. (Okay, I’m a not-so-secret Darth Vader fangrrrl.) A nice whiff of romance hinted at there, but I’m not going to spoil it for you if you’re yet to dip into the story. And my heart bled for the princess. I’m not going to say exactly what happens to her, but she shows surprising strength of character despite all the challenges she faces.
Yes, the story is a bit slow-moving at the start, but I think it’s necessary so that readers can ease into the semi-fantasy/historical setting and the cast of characters are introduced. This is a beautifully crafted tale by an author who knows and loves the English language. If you have a love for classical historical fiction and fairy tales, then give this one a try.