Friday, June 29, 2012

Andrew D. Mellusco - The Mirror and The Meretrix

The Mirror & The Meretrix
Blackstone & Brenwen 

By Andrew D. Mellusco

Kindle Edition Available 

Product Description (from Amazon) 

Red Riding Hood is charged with murder and only her childhood sweetheart, the idealistic and roguish lawyer, Elliot Blackstone can rescue her. Joined by Blackstone & Associates' newest addition and fervently ambitious trainee, Centaur Epona Brenwen, he must uncover the plot behind Abigail Hood's incarceration before royal assassins, Rose Red and Snow White silence her for good.

Meanwhile Blackstone's lawyers, Sandman, Vincent Traum and, Fire-Nymph, Fury have their own problems as a seemingly innocuous insurance case involving a magic mirror turns deadly as a murderous and thieving band of seven Dwarf-Giants are released for lack of evidence.

Could these two cases be linked? And what is the real identity of Hansel, murder victim and robbery witness? All the lawyers do know is that somebody wants the magic mirror and will kill to get it. Elliot Blackstone just might be facing the last case of his talented but young life.

Blackstone & Brenwen - The Mirror & The Meretrix is an exhilarating legal thriller set in a fairy tale World-Tree, where peril lies behind every precedent and adventure within every adjudication. The term ‘magic circle law firm’ has never been so appropriate.

For those lovers of all things lawerish, fantastical, and all manner of craziness in-between.

About the Author (from Amazon)

Andrew was born in 1978. Raised in picturesque Lincoln he spent his infancy watching the jousting at the castle in summer, and his childhood playing kiss chase in the fields behind his house; he always wanted to be a knight... or a rogue... a knightish rogue perhaps? Having escaped an adjuster's life in London Insurance land, Andrew now teaches English as a foreign language. He has taught in Thailand, Taiwan, Argentina and is now teaching in Spain. Andrew is currently working on his second Blackstone & Brenwen novel.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

I love reading Fairy Tales written in new and unusual ways. When the author contacted us asking us to review this book, I was intrigued by the combination of Fairy Tales with lawyers! And, while I’m not a huge fan of the crime genre, I do like a good mystery, and, as I’ve said before, it was combined with Fairy Tales. His website decided it for me. It has to be one of the best Author sites I’ve ever seen!

So I offered to read and review it.

For the most part, I really enjoyed it. There were at least twenty Fairy Tales worked in. They weren’t completely true to the Fairy Tales, but they were usually clearly recognizable. I even found Charles Perrault, a fairy tale writer, in there. “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” “Snow White and Rose Red,” and “Jack and the Beanstalk”  were the most important and prominent, but I really enjoyed the scene where Elliot visits the tailor shops and meets “The Brave Little Tailor” and the two imposters who are making “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” There were even a few of the more obscure Fairy Tales.

The main characters were Elliot, Vincent, Fury and Epona. Elliot is half angel and is a Criminal Defendant, Vincent is a Sandman and is in Finance, Fury is a Fire Nymph and is in Insurance, and Epona is a Centaur, and is Elliot’s new trainee. They were pretty well developed, although I found the Vincent/Fury romance a tad bit sudden on Fury’s part.

I didn’t find very many plot issues, but there were a few glaring ones. For instance, I had Vincent’s and Elliot’s parentages mixed up for a while, due to the fact that Vincent’s was explained in a flashback before Elliot’s is explained, and, at that point, Vincent had not been properly introduced. Also, it is stated that Elliot’s angelic parentage is secret from Vincent; however, Vincent seems fully aware that Asmodeus is Elliot’s uncle.

I did have some issues with the angelic/demon part. In this book the angels are, for the most part, bad, and the demons are good. The “fall” of the demons had been because they thought that the humans ought to be considered as part of society and ought to be protected, and the angles thought that they were parasites. Also, Elliot was too much of a womanizer for my tastes.

The World-Tree was an interesting concept. However, I was not able to completely form a good image of it in my head. I’m sure the author has it completely worked out, but I couldn’t quite merge the scenery with a tree. I really tried.

Also, the meretrixes, which were important enough to be in the title, were not explained until nearly the end. If they had been explained sooner, things would have made much better sense for me. From various clues, I had assumed that they were a sort of waiting maid to the queen. However, they were more of a companion for single male visitors of importance. They sit beside them at meals, dance with them at balls, or even simply take walks with them in the garden. They are supposed to be perfectly beautiful and to not have relationships.

Other than those issues, I really enjoyed the book. I can really see this author becoming quite popular. The plot was amazing! Elliot kept me guessing as to what string he would next pull to get them to bring Abigail to justice. The story was told in a rather all-knowing sort of way, so often the only mystery was what was going through Elliot’s head. However, there was a proper balance of stuff for me to foresee, and stuff for me to be surprised at, so it wasn’t bad. I love how the Fairy Tales were used – usually in completely unexpected ways. The plot was genius, pure genius.

Note: This was border line for me when it comes to sexual content. Nothing was described, but it was referred to a lot, and was even observed fleetingly in the second chapter. If it had been any worse, I would have handed it up to my mother, although I’m not sure she would have enjoyed the crime/lawyer plot as much as I did, as that is even less of her genre than it is mine.

Genre/Theme: Lawyers, Fantasy, Fairy Tales, crime/murder mystery
Reading Level: MATURE TEEN - college to
ADULT - self-explanatory 
Profanity:  LOW - few mildly offensive words. Mostly British and words unique to the World Tree
Sexuality:  OBVIOUS - blatant sexuality in text, but not explicit. No details, but two characters are obviously making love in the second chapter. Elliot is stated to have slept around (including, it’s hinted, with Fury), and his room is decorated with stuff like a nude Valkyrie pen holder and a fertility headdress. 
Other: The murderess bites a hole out of the victim’s windpipe, then drinks some of his blood.  The two assassins do quite a bit of killing, some of it quite bloody. The victim’s body is rather gruesome. There is quite a bit of death, actually. Drinking is encouraged by the Lawyer firm, one of the mottos being “a problem shared over a drink is a problem solved.” There is also some witchcraft.

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