Friday, October 22, 2010

Regarding Jana and "Black Swan Rising"

Title and Author: Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll

Publishing Info:
Tor Books, August 3, 2010

How I got this book:
I signed up to win it on Goodreads, and I won!

Why I read this book:
The premise of the book sounded really interesting and intriguing. I think I was more excited to win this book than any of the other first reads I've won!

This book caught my eye in the long list of Goodreads book giveaways because of the title and the intriguing cover. Once I read the description, I eagerly signed up to win. I'm so glad I did! This book was rich with beautiful literary writing, dynamic characters, and a complex plot. “Lee Carroll” is a collaboration between award-winning mystery novelist Carol Goodman and her poet and hedge fund manager husband, Lee Slominsky. I loved the integration of mystery, intrigue, poetic writing, and exquisite descriptions. These two make an awesome team, and I hope they continue to write novels together in the future.

I really pity the person who was put in charge of writing the blurb on the back cover of this book! This plot was so complicated, that during the entire book I was wondering how on earth I'd be able to summarize it for my review! Just this once, I guess I'll take a shortcut and copy the book's blurb. Kudos to the blurb-writer! I don't think they get nearly enough credit. Anyway, here goes!
When New York City jewelry designer Garet James stumbles into a strange antiques shop in her neighborhood, her life is about to be turned upside down. John Dee, the enigmatic shopkeeper, commissions her to open a vintage silver box for a generous sum of money. Oddly, the symbol of a swan on the box exactly matches the ring given to her by her deceased mother. Garet can’t believe her luck and this eerie coincidence until she opens the box and otherworldly things start happening.
That evening, the precious silver box is stolen. When Garet begins to investigate, she learns that she has been pulled into a prophecy that is hundreds of years old, and opening the box has unleashed an evil force onto the streets of Manhattan and the world at large. Gradually, Garet pieces together her true identity—one that her deceased mother desperately tried to protect her from. Generations of women in Garet’s family, including her beloved mother, suffered and died at the hands of this prevailing evil. Does Garet possess the power to reclaim the box and defeat this devastating force? On her journey, she will meet the fey folk who walk unnoticed among humans and a sexy vampire who also happens to be a hedge fund manager that she can’t stop thinking about. But the fairies reveal a desire to overpower mere humans and the seductive vampire has the power to steal the life from her body. Whom can Garet trust to guide her? Using her newfound powers and sharp wit, Garet will muster everything she’s got to shut down the evil taking over her friends, family, New York City, and the world.

This was right up my alley! I started reading it as soon as I could, and I was pulled in by the time the first page was read. As I said, and will probably say again, the writing is lovely! There were a few typos that the editor missed… some misspelled words, and some words that were most likely supposed to be different words. I knew what they meant, though, so I can look past that. Luckily, there was just a handful.

The story takes place in present-day NYC with elements of history, the arts, and Shakespeare. Again, right up my alley. I really liked the main character, Garet, which stands for Margaret (named after her mother Marguerite—which is an important detail). She’s courageous, spunky, and has a good head on her shoulders. She has to go through a lot in this book, seeing as how evil is slowly escaping and seeping into everyday life. At the very beginning of the book, her father gets shot and some valuable artwork is stolen from their business. An investigator comes and believes her father staged the whole robbery and shot himself. This storyline is an underlying part of the entire rest of the story, and has Garet deeply troubled. The evil influences, which come in the form of fog and feelings, weigh heavily on her friends and her father… even the world around her. The evil actually coaxes someone into trying to commit suicide. Garet is the only one who knows why all of this is happening, but she doesn’t sit and complain about it like some heroines do. Instead, she follows in the footsteps of the women she descended from, in order to try and defeat this evil. Through it all, she has this wonderful sense of humor! It helps that she has sidekicks along the way, particularly a small fairy and a sexy vampire. Boy, does this book make him sound amazing! He swoops in and protects her when she needs him (even though he’s forbidden), which makes you want a vampire of your very own.

Now, don’t worry! When I say vampire, I’m not talking Edward Cullen. If you hate Twilight, don’t worry. You can read this book and still hate Twilight. The authors put a totally different spin on vampires, and it’s really a tiny, tiny part of the story. Even though this vampire is a romantic interest, the romance is almost non-existent. If you don’t like romance, don’t be scared away by this book. It’s extremely minimal. The main focus is on Garet’s discovery of this new world, and what she plans to do about it. Along with the fey and the vampire, she encounters an alchemist, a dragon, a water goddess, and some other interesting people that are not who they appear to be. She experiences so many different things, goes through every emotion, and flip-flops between who to trust and who to steer clear of. It’s a crazy web of events and feelings, but it was written in a way that was not at all confusing. I’m just having a hard time doing it justice, but I actually see that as a good thing!

What I loved about this story was that it was so unpredictable. I didn’t know what was going on until Garet did. I found myself questioning every character right along with her. Is this guy on my side? Should I be worried about this? What’s going to happen next? I had no idea how the ending would work out. I was shocked every time she was. I trusted the same people she did. It’s like I was doing the thinking for her. That was refreshing, as many mysteries can be easily solved before the book is over.

The only complaint I had was that Garet’s father and close friends slowly slipped into the background. I guess when you’re one woman fighting off the evils of the world, while being sought out by Mr. Evil himself, and befriending a romantic vampire you don’t have much time for family! However… the characters were likeable, so I wish I got to learn more about them.

BEWARE: Cliff-hanger ending! This better be a trilogy, or it should at LEAST have a sequel, because the ending was just too shocking and frustrating to deal with. If readers are not rewarded with a second book, I’m not sure life will be ok. Just sayin’.

Overall, I’m giving this book a good solid 5-star rating. I’m not one to re-read books, but I really want to re-visit this one soon. It’s been almost two weeks since I finished it, and I’m still thinking about it. That’s a REALLY good sign, especially since I’ve read two books since I finished this one. If you love a good urban fantasy, a strong heroine, a little mystery, evil lurking around every corner, amazing and beautiful writing (see, I told you I’d mention it again), detailed descriptions, a smidge of romance, a dash of action, and a hint of Shakespeare, then I think you’ll love this book! Oh, and if a book #2 rolls around, I’ll be sure and let you know… because I’m determined to be one of the first to find out!
Happy reading!


  1. This sounds really good! I think I remember seeing it on goodreads too, and didn't enter to win. I wish I had, looks like a suspensful book!

  2. Interesting sounding book -- and an nice review! I ordered this book for our library and it's constantly checked out (which is a good thing) -- it's on my own tbr list to get to eventually. :)

  3. This is already on my TBR list. I love Carol Goodman and I can't wait to read what she comes up with with her husband

  4. At first I thought this was the novelization of the new Natalie Portman movie!

  5. Great review!! I had this recommended to me by Wicked Lil Pixie too, and now I really can't wait to read it!

  6. This one sounds great. Thanks for that heads up about the cliffhanger ending!


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