Review: Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand

I got that one as a gift from Tasha/Heidenkind who, among other things,  writes a blog entitled Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Books– thank you very much, you rock!


Fairies and people shouldn’t mix. If they do, more often than not they misunderstand and hurt each other, even if their intentions are the best. Still what can be done – some fairies are addicted to humans and they would do anything, simply anything, to get another dose of their favourite poison. Some humans are hardly better – they act as if they were moths and fairies were the flame, especially those artists…

In the Victorian Age, a mysterious and irresistible woman becomes entwined in the lives of several Pre-Raphaelite painters, both as a muse and as the object of all-consuming obsession. Radborne Comstock, one of the early twentieth century’s most brilliant young artists, is helpless under her dangerous spell and his paintings prove that much.

In modern-day London, journalist Daniel Rowlands meets a beguiling woman who holds the secret to invaluable — and lost — Pre-Raphaelite paintings, while wealthy dilettante-actor Valentine Comstock is consumed by enigmatic visions fuelled by one short memory of the same woman. How will it end?

My impressions:

I really liked the premise of this one but it took me ages to read it. I was taking it into my hand and dumping after several pages. Why? Bad luck I suppose – I was being constantly busy and the book was too good to be DNFed and too slow and too long to be read in one-two sittings. The plot was complex and twisting, swirling between eras and continents but firmly revolving around one hypnotising red head. It was also flowing at its own pace which would be ok if I actually liked dream-like, slow-go narratives. I don’t, anyway not when the book is over 300 pages long.

I grand it: some scenes were entrancing, especially those showing Cobus Candell, an ultimate mad artist living on raw eggs, turpentine fumes and pure genius in a private lunatic asylum. Following the breadcrumbs left by the beautiful Larkin Meade, who was so addicted to sex with humans she couldn’t help herself, was sometimes fun as well. It is obvious Ms. Hand knows her Celtic mythology, the milieu of Pre-Raphaelite painters, London and much more –  I really appreciated  her attention to detail. Still the pace was too sluggish or at least it was too sluggish for me. The final 20-30 pages I skimmed because I didn’t want to drag it one more day. I felt tired. It’s bad when a book makes you tired, not excited, right?

Final verdict (with a spoiler):

Three story lines, two centuries and a bit of magic; still after finishing this one I felt relieved and a bit disappointed. I suppose it was simply not my style of narration; apart from that I think the book lacked sense of humour and some surprise factor. If you read fantasy or paranormal anything from time to time you’ll guess rather sooner than later that the magnetically beautiful girl who destroys her lovers with inhuman longing is really (spoiler, highlight to read or skip) an ancient fairy queen called Bloddeued.

Rating icon. A hairless cat is wearing a santa hat and a sour expression. On the hat reads: meh.

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8 Responses to Review: Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand

  1. heidenkind says:

    Blodeued strikes again!

  2. blodeuedd says:

    Wohoo go me! 😉

  3. Carole Rae says:

    At first I was confused by the the comments above…then I read the spoiler. 😉 Then all made sense. hahahahaha

  4. xaurianx says:

    A book that is so slow, that it makes you tired, is just as bad as a book that is so filled with action, the main characters never have a moment to recover, that is exhausting to read. Not a book for me either.

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