Book Review of Her Darkest Beauty by L.K. Malone, author of Mirror of N’de
I really enjoyed the story and was drawn into Karra’s life and her choices. I would love to read all three parts of the trilogy, so I can see how all the other characters are eventually woven together. I’m really intrigued by Gradi, and of course I want to see how it all sorts itself out with Del, and if Nevians ever understand how things need to change. And I want Jem to come to a fitting end.
Excerpt from Her Darkest Beauty
The ragged blonde girl hangs back from the rest of the beggars. She watches the bolder children push their way through the constantly moving crowds to approach the ones who seem the richest. The richest, though, never enter this part of the city, Daddy has claimed.
But other beggars are getting dit coins. Just tug on a sleeve, she tells herself. Hold out your hand for a few coins.
She runs nose first into a leather longcoat that smells like the inside of the piece of rellis fur Mama used to keep in her jewelry box.
“What do we have here?” the man in the leather coat demands.
“A red, Sirra, or maybe a blue dit?” she manages to ask before her courage deserts her. Too late she notices she is Nevian.
“Sirra?” The man’s face darkens. “You dare call me by that Homelander title?”
The girl flushes. Tears of fear sting her eyes. “Forgive me, kind Master.”
“I may at that.” His attention turns toward her with interest instead of contempt. He pulls a red full five-wen note from the pocket of his longvest. “Yes, once I show you what you were born for.”
Excerpt from Steps of the Dance, sequel to Her Darkest Beauty
I love it when Mama laughs, a low throaty sound kind of like a purr. It’s the one sound Mama makes only for me, and only when she is truly happy. I don’t hear it much anymore, with so many powerful enemies. She’s often too worried to laugh.
Mama just handed me this diary, full of empty pages waiting for me to fill, and laughed in that special way when she saw my look of surprise. She said it was a gift so that I wouldn’t forget anything.
But I don’t forget anything. Ever. That’s one of my curses. Sometimes, though, I compartmentalize. I don’t mean that the way it’s usually used. I just put unwelcome memories in a “vault” so that I can think about what I need to do next. The memories never go away, but when they’re in the vault I can ignore them until I gather the courage to face them again.
Oh, wait. I haven’t introduced myself, and that was rude. I’m called Chalatta. You can call me that too, but my name is also a subject under debate. But let’s start with Chalatta. When you get to know me better, you can use whichever name you wish.
We, Mama and I, live in absolute luxury. I have more clothes than I have ever seen in my life. Even my casual clothing is specially designed. And I have my own bathroom with scented everything, bath salts, lotions, oils and powders. My bed is so big I could share it with Mama and her sister. I’ve never been in a place like this before. This huge apartment takes up the whole top floor of a building, with rooms for servants, even a servants’ kitchen. I like their kitchen, so full of warm laughter. They know we’re in trouble, but they firmly believe that we, the ones who hired them, will work this through. I love their optimism, but I don’t share it.
It’s kind of odd that my life didn’t really begin until I turned seven. I’m twelve now, and so much older. But before I turned seven, I was just living like most of the kids I knew, in a small four-room apartment my Aunt Suzin shared with her brothers and sisters. Mama, one of Aunt Su’s sisters, visited, but she didn’t really live there. It was a safe place for that time in my life.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my Aunt Su. She was always there for me, when I got a cold, or when I skinned my knee, or anything. But the one thing I wanted more than anything else in the whole world was to live with Mama.
And that didn’t happen until I turned seven. That’s when Mama took me away from Aunt Su.
And when all the trouble began.