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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Short, Sweet, & Magically Delicious

I was messing around on Amazon late one night, when I found--{gasp!}--another work by Ilona Andrews! Something that was neither part of the Magic nor the Edge series! I felt like I’d won the lottery when I found this little gem. (Okay, a tiny little lottery, but still...)
Silent Blade is a short story, available only by itself (rather than as part of an anthology). The fact that it seems to be available solely as an e-book is the only possible downside I can see, here. It's definitely NOT like the other Ilona Andrews books I’ve read (and fallen in love with), and yet, in a way, it does remind me just a bit of them. For starters, SB is really not an Urban Fantasy story (although it is classified as such on Amazon), simply because there's no "F" involved. It isn't a Paranormal Romance, either, because there's no "P" aspect to it. If pressed, I'd have to make my own new classification for this one: USFR (Urban Sci-Fi Romance, of course ;D). And, if you look at it under this "new" heading (instead of trying to pigeon-hole it into one of the genres we're familiar with), you just might find that you like it, for what it is. I certainly did. :)
Without spoiling any of the fun, I can safely tell you that the story takes place in the future, when power (at least on a local level) is based primarily on what large family group to which you belong and swear allegiance. Only members of the most powerful families are allowed to have special genetic "enhancements" (which create special abilities/unique talents in those persons affected), and alliances and rivalries between these power-hungry families rule the day. If one isn't a member of a powerful family group, then she/he is destined to be no more than a worker, a plebeian. Unless, that is, she/he has the good luck (or bad, depending on how you look at such things) to be born with some phenomenally-rare ability... like our heroine, Meli, has been.
Meli can interact with and control the "ene-ribbon" bracelets she wears--which essentially turn her wrists into fearsome killing weapons of focused energy beams (trust me, it comes across better than I just made it sound ;))--and has found work as an assassin because of her nearly-unheard-of, millions-to-one ability. She eventually grows weary of that life after a dozen years of it, though, and retires... only to be called back into service, one final time, to "take care of" someone from her very distant past--someone she'd hoped never to see again. What follows is how both she and her "target" deal with her mission... and with the realization of exactly what and whom each of them has become in the intervening years since last they met.
SB is, as I've said, a short story and as such, a very quick read. That's a shame, in a way, because this early work (and I'm guessing at that, because it isn't nearly as polished as what we're familiar with from Andrews)--which, coincidentally, feels like it was penned more by Gordon than by Ilona--seems like it could have been fleshed-out quite easily into a full-length story. The world herein isn't nearly as fully-formed as either Kate's Atlanta or Rose's Edge/Broken/Weird--but then again, how could it be, with so few pages in which to create something of a world and tell a story? 
In all, this was a very interesting read, with a nice little romance, and it was fun to sit a spell with these folks and live in their world... if only for a very brief time. Is it fantastic, mind-blowing, and something you'll want to reread again immediately? No... but it's always fascinating to read an author's early work--and find out just how far she/he has come.
GlamKitty rating: 4 catnip mice (out of 5 possible)

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