Sarah Monette – Mélusine

Set in the wondrous city of Mélusine, Monette’s extraordinary first fantasy novel focuses on two captivating characters from two very different worlds: Felix Harrowgate, a powerful magician at the court of Lord Stephen Teverius, and Mildmay the Fox, a cat burglar who has been trained as an assassin. When Felix falls prey to the unscrupulous machinations of a man who’s plotting to destroy Mélusine, he’s left nearly mad, unable to clear his name or explain his actions. Mildmay, on the other hand, undertakes a simple burglary, thinking it will lead to a bit of extra flash that will keep him going for more than a few days. Instead, the burglary opens the way to a series of unfortunate events that force Felix and Mildmay into a partnership neither of them could have anticipated or desired.

Okay, first things first; let me tell you that this might not be a book easy to get into – at least that’s what some people told me before. Honestly, Monette’s writing gripped me from the first page and I absolutely loved this first book (I’m currently reading volume two, The Virtu and number three, The Mirador is on its way to be shipped, heh :p ).

Mélusine definitely is a character-driven book. Monette excellently manages to write a book with 2 main characters, both alternating in first-person narratives within the chapters, plus she adds Felix’ more or less mad ramblings as a sort of ‘third voice’ to the mix, which makes the whole thing a little confusing at times (though she switches into present there). As a first-person writer myself I loved the way both her character have very unique voices (Felix ‘flash accent’ “I was halfway tempted to employ some of Mildmay’s colorful vocabulary” versus Mildmay’s street drawl “No, since you ask, it ain’t a nice way of living, but it sure beats the fuck out of dying) and even though they’re really not all that likeable (and definitely morally flawed), you can’t help but like those two unusual characters.

Oh and before I forget – even though this should be pretty obvious by now, based on my previous reviews and recommendations – this is another one of those strange, but awesome fantasy books, but definitely not for an audience that has problems with a) cursing and b) very explicit sexuality. Oh and I did I mention that Jacqueline Carey wrote a blurb on that one too? Well you get the message (and yes, I’ll stop pointing this out, just to spite my fellow inhabitants of Jesusland -er…Utah 😉 )

Anyway, to round this up, it seems that I’m reading quite a number of awesome books lately, but among those Mélusine definitely stands out for its originality and more than that its characters. Mélusine is a book about various conflicts within and between characters  and it definitely isn’t your usual cliche fantasy.  Everyone who enjoys exceptional writing  (btw she has a  PhD in English literature and I daresay it’s pretty damn obvious in her writing  8) ) and unusual characters, check out Mélusine. It’s the first book in a planned series of four. Mélusine, The Virtu and The Mirador are already out, her fourth novel in the series, Corambis will be published on April 7th, 2009.

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