I got a complimentary copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review- thank you very much! That fact didn’t influence my opinion in any way.
Caitlin von der Lahn is engaged to her cousin, Hagen, an archeologist and the ‘official’ baron of Burg Lahn. It doesn’t mean she is not seeing his twin brother, Heinrich, because who can say ‘no’ to a handsome musician and a poet? Instead of being each other’s bitter rival both brothers soon realize they have to cooperate – while Caitlin was exploring Ande-dubnos on her own she met several fertility deities and soon after returning to the contemporary Germany she finds she is pregnant. It means she might, like her mother, die during the birth as von der Lahn females are under a vicious curse. Can anything be done about it? While Caitlin, her father, fiancé and lover are looking for magical means of lifting the curse Dagmar Abel is plotting their demise…
I suppose I am a bigger fan of Celtic culture and mythology than I’ve ever realized and this book is the proof. Normally if I read a novel in which a heroine openly dates twin brothers at the same time, sleeps with them (but fortunately they don’t go to bed together) and then carries their children (triplets, two girls and a boy, the boy having a different father than the girls) I would get a bad taste in my mouth pretty quickly. Caitlin von der Lahn is such a heroine; mind you the list of her conquests hardly finishes with Hagen and Heinrich, the aforementioned von der Lahn brothers. There is also one steamy scene with her and Gus (Augustus) Schwarzbach, her half- cousin who used to be mistakenly taken for her brother, and Kilhian Ar C’hoed, Caitlin’s long-lost twin, seems to appreciate his sister’s charms more than he is supposed to do. Seriously if you think about that unholy mess in ordinary terms you might get an impression this series belongs to hard-core erotica and Caitlin has become a shameless hussy. Or a nymphomaniac. Or both.
The books’ saving grace is the firm anchoring in the world of Celtic deities and symbols, in other words the Schattenreich and Ande- dubnos, the first being von der Lahn-Du Bois territory carved out of Ande-dubnos and the second the Breton name for the Celtic Otherworld. I admit the chapters taking me to the different domains of that fantasy lands, especially the Dream, representing collective unconscious of people with Celtic heredity, worked for me the best. It was indeed the shadow zone where such notions as good, evil and sin doesn’t exist or are up to your personal interpretation. Not only I managed to swallow all those slightly kinky scenes with deities like Cernunnos, his concubine Godeliva, handsome Ankou representing death, Cathubodua and Melusine, Cernunnos’s mate and guardian of the dreams, but practically loved their company. Unfortunately as soon as I was returned to the contemporary world – Germany or Greece, no matter – the whole premise worked a bit less, maybe because nothing really surprising happened plot-wise or maybe because only the Celtic myths do it for me.
Still my biggest carping concerns the baddies. Dagmar Abel and her younger sister Brigitta should have been more fleshed out. I would love to know more about Niklas Polifka and his inner thoughts. And of course I would love Caitlin to be given another female companion, somebody like Samantha Eschweiler from previous parts – as it is now our poor pregnant heroine is simply drowning in testosterone.
Finally the cover is great – in general I love cover art used in this series.
In my humble and evidently biased opinion it’s been the weakest part of the Schattenreich series so far, mainly because the overabundance of romantic/sex scenes; mind you I still managed to read it to the very end and I would like to read on. I am curious how the whole ‘curse’ will be resolved.
My other reviews of books in this series: