Sunday, June 14, 2009

Naamah's Kiss, by Jaqueline Carey - Review

Figuring out when to end a series has got to be challenging for a popular author. As a fan, it’s a conundrum too, because when you’re in love with a world, whether it’s historical, paranormal, or almost-real fiction, it’s hard to give it up, even when you know it’s time.

And yet a good author knows when to leave them wanting more, because really, there are only so many times that any given character can Save The World.

Jacqueline Carey is one of those authors for me – I want her Terre d’Ange world to keep going, and going and going because it is such an incredible place. (Actually, if I could figure out a way to go live there--err, without involving psychiatric institutionalization-- I would.) The two Kushiel trilogies are as absorbing and immersive as anything I’ve ever read and while I was a little disappointed to learn last year that enough time elapses between the end of Kushiel’s Mercy and this book that none of the characters from the first two books would be appearing, I’ve still been waiting with great anticipation for Naamah’s Kiss. (Carey actually read the first chapter last year at a signing for Kushiel's Mercy– how’s THAT for a tease??)

I’m very pleased to report that Naamah's Kiss delivers everything a Terre d’Ange fan could want. Carey returns to a feminine viewpoint, telling the story of Moirin, a descendant of the “bear witches,” the clan who betrayed Imriel in the second trilogy. Several generations have passed, and the larger magic abilities of Moirin’s people have faded, similar to legends you might read about the Fae.

One of the aspects I like the most about all of Carey’s books, including Santa Olivia, is the way the point of view character always sees themselves as more or less ordinary, and tells us their extraordinary story with such a sense of humbleness that you don’t always realize immediately that you as a reader are getting a front-row look at this world’s history unfolding from inside the eyes of someone who is going to turn out to be a pivotal figure within the world. At one time, Moirin’s internal narrative tells us that “whatever else happened, we had just ridden into legend.”* And damn if that doesn’t feel like the dead truth when you’re reading it.

Carey absolutely does it again with this new incarnation of her world. A few familiar threads will ground the Kushiel fans quickly, but if you’re interested in trying out a new author and don’t want to read the whole backlist, this would be a fine place to start. It couldn’t have been easy for Carey to find new ground to break after the wide-ranging journeys of Phedre and Imriel, but she manages it. Moirin travels to Carey’s analog of China, exploring half-familiar legends involving curses, princesses, and dragons who inhabit the exotic mountain ranges of the East, and learning that earth-magic has many faces, but springs from the same source. (Well, maybe that's obvious, but at any rate, I liked how Carey manages to make it feel exotic and different but with a familiar heart everywhere her characters go.)

Something I always appreciate about the Terre d’Ange books is the way sexuality is treated: from sacred to ordinary, it’s a part of life--and a part of the story-- that is just as accepted any other part of life. And just to prove that I do retain [some] of the stuff I’ve learned along the way since starting this blog, let me comment that if you find a heteronormative framework restrictive and unsatisfying, you won’t have a problem with Terre d’Ange. As with the previous trilogies, the “love as thou wilt” theology of Terre d’Ange is an underlying force in Moirin’s destiny; her partners and lovers all have a role in leading her along her journey and the book falls into natural phases along with her different affairs.

All up, I give Naamah’s Kiss a whole-hearted recommendation for any fan of good fiction. If high fantasy hasn’t been your cup of tea thus far, Carey just might be your gateway book. If you love historical fiction, heroic legend, or just plain good storytelling, Carey does not disappoint. Romance purists will not find a story centered around a couple's relationship, but there are lots of romantic elements. If you’re already a fan of Ms. Carey, rest assured that Naamah's Kiss delivers. For now, I think I like it even a little better than the Imriel trilogy – perhaps it’s something about the female protagonist that works a little better for me.

And….. it’s a Hachette book. And you know what that means.

I have 5 copies to give away. June 24th is the release date, so I will announce all 5 winners on that day (though if you want it sooner, it looks like Amazon is already shipping them). Check back between now and then and you may get more chances to enter.

For now, comment below to start your chances, and post a link on your blog, Facebook, etc. for a second entry. Please specify if you live outside of North America – if I get international submissions I will set aside those participants for one of the 5 drawings.

*Note: the quote is from an uncorrected review copy; it may not appear in the published edition as I've shown it here.


Kati said...

Hm, I've only read the first Terre d'Ange book, and I enjoyed it although it's definitely an incredibly meaty book and one that develops slowly.

Don't enter me in the contest, I just wanted to say what a great review this is, Nicola!

Tink said...

Hey Kati, can I have your entry then? I keed. I keed.

Put me in for the drawing, please. I'm so excited about this book!

Generic said...

Love this series. Thanks for the review, and a chance to win a copy of the book!

A Reader said...

Posted on my blog's sidebar.
Thanks for the giveaway!

PeggyP said...

Good review, definitely want to read this book, whether I win it or not, thanks for the chance!

Janey said...

Eeeeeeeee! I can't wait. Love her so much.

Unknown said...

Great review! I would love to read this book since I just started reading this series and I couldn't put it down.

Thanks so much!

Leslie said...

After such a glowing review this book has become a must read.

Adding my name. :)

Tammy Green said...

I'm in the middle of Kushiel's Chosen right now. I'm glad I took your recommendation on these books -- they're richly detailed and very satisfying. Thank you!


mrsshukra said...

New author for me, thanks for entering me in this giveaway!

I ♥ Book Gossip said...

I've been wanting to read this book forever. Please count me in.

I ♥ Book Gossip said...

I've posted this on my sideblog.

I ♥ Book Gossip said...

I'll post this on my Twitter. But the site is down so it might take awhile. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Mary D
zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

Your review's got me hooked, now I really want to read this :) You did a great job inticing this poor innocent book lover LOL

Anonymous said...

Okay, I never win these things, but for now the odds seem pretty good, and I love Jacqueline Carey's books, so count me in for the drawing.

Jenn said...

Please count me in for the drawing. This is a great series and I'm excited about this book!

Bunny Queen said...

I adore this series! Thank you so much for sharing the book wealth.

Valorie said...

The cover is beautiful. I'd love a chance to win.



M. said...

I have been dipping my toes into dark fantasy and paranormal recently, and generally been glad I did. So I'm not totally unfamiliar with territory - but I am unfamiliar with Carey's work. I had avoided the Kushiel books due to impression that there is a signficant amount of violence involved, and I've found I need to be careful of that type of content (don't read suspense /thrillers/horror for that reason).

Perhaps I should give this title a try? (I'm in Canada, in case that's relevant).

Sara M said...

Count me in! I haven't read any of Carey's other books, but I'm definitely gonna check them out

Sara M
silentalibis AT yahoo DOT com

Anonymous said...

I would love to be entered. I want to get my hands on a copy of this book.

I blogged about this contest at my LJ:


Nicola O. said...

Hmmm, M., not sure what your thresh-hold is. I wouldn't have called the Kushiel books overly violent (with the possible exception of Avatar), although there were battle scenes in most of them.

Naamah's Kiss does have an extended battle scene that gets a bit gory... but I can't think of anything else that might be an issue. LMK if you still want to be entered in the drawing, otherwise I will assume not.

DEBIJOT said...

Would love to read this. Thanks

chey said...

Great review. Thanks for the chance to win!

chey127 at hotmail dot com

SiNn said...

im new to her work and would love to get in on this contest be a great read it seems so please enter me

Anonymous said...

I didn't know about this book, but after reading the review i think i'd like to read it .It seems like i found a new author to read =)

So count me in!

I should mention that i live in France , if that's ok for the contest?


And I'll blog about the review :

Melanie said...

I've never heard of this series, but it looks interesting. Don't enter me in this contest, I just wanted to say that that was a really good review!

Mishel (P.S. I Love Books) said...

I never get tired of looking at this cover or seeing it all over blogland =) I'd love a chance to win a copy!!

Thanks so much Nicola =)

mishtakes AT gmail DOT com

Mishel (P.S. I Love Books) said...

I also posted a link to this contest on my sidebar!

mishtakes AT gmail DOT com

Nicola O. said...

Pattepoilue (and other non-North-American readers):

These books are being shipped directly from the publisher who limits to North America. HOWEVER, what I will do is put all the international entries into the drawing for the last book, and if I draw an international name, I will cover the shipping myself.

If you're the only one I'll just let it play out normally :) but I don't want to commit to covering international shipping for more than one copy. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Nicola, it does make sense. And thank you for giving us the chance to win this book =)

Well now i want to read her books so i think i should begin with Kushiel's Dart
Have a great weekend =)

CherylS22 said...

I've never read any of Jacqueline Carey's books & this one looks like a great place to start.

Thanks for the great review.....

Belinda M said...

Please include me in your giveaway

Canadian Contests, Freebies, Coupons, Deals, Games and Chat - join us at


M. said...

Hi Nicola -
for some reason I developed the impression that the Kushiel books involved some form of sexual violence. No? Wrong impression? If so, I stand corrected, and should take a closer look at the series because so many people talk about it in superlatives.
I don't really have a problem with battle scenes (so long as they don't go on for multiple chapters, but that's more of a boredome issue) so I'll live dangerously and ask to keep my hat in the ring!

Thanks for clarifying.

Adele said...

I love her books. Dropping by to put my name in the hat. :)

Mervi said...

Great review and I can't wait to read the book! I'm also a Carey fan although I'm shamefully behind in reading her.
I live in Finland.

Alex said...

I have Kushiel's Dart in my TBR and I'll probably read it this Summer. After seeing so many interesting reviews about Naamah's Kiss, I'm really curious to read it too.
Thanks for oganizing this giveaway, Nicola! Oh and I live in France, hope it's ok.:)

Tynga said...

I'd lvoe to win a copy kushiel serie has been on my wishlist for a while =)

tynga85 at hotmail .com

L said...

This book sounds great. Enter me please!


Grace said...

I'm very excited about this book... sign me up for a chance to win! And thank you.

Anonymous said...

So excited about this one, please sign me up!

Unknown said...

Great review. By far one of my most favourite authors.
And I agree, that while I wish to see more of Phedre.. I wouldn't want it to be to the point where it gets "tired". So seeing this great world in other ways at least keeps the "world" alive.
Thanks for the chance to win!

I also linked to this on my blog

Unknown said...

I would like to enter. I am a new follower of your blog.

Lacy bb at gmail dot com

Grace said...

I've also advertised your giveaway on my Twitter, so put me down for another entry! And thank you again.


Silver said...

I love love love the Kushiel series, each one of them and I've been waiting eagerly for this one. To whet my anticipation a bit, I actually googled to read a review of this book, which is how I came across your blog. Anyway, would love to be entered in the drawing. Am from outside North America, by the way.

I'll also post this review in my blog at

- Silver

dag888888 said...

Very intriguing, please enter me, thanks!


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