Katrina Monroe and the Dark Side of Fiction
Katrina Monroe is an author, mother, and professional haterologist. Her favorite things to hate include socks that fall down, grape-flavored anything, and the color 'salmon.' Grab her books here.
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Let me preface this by saying I’m not a romance reader. The very thoughts of heaving bosoms and tousled curls in the wind make me want to crawl neck-deep into a scorpion pit.
Extreme? Maybe. But as we say here at Dark Comedy…
Well, we don’t actually say anything specific, but you get the idea.
So why, then, with my pre-loaded prejudice did I pick up SPLINTERED SOULS? Because a little birdie told me I should. And if there’s anything to be learned from Disney, it’s that talking birdies should always garner your attention.
SPLINTERED SOULS is the modern (and not so modern) take on Plato’s idea of twin flames—the thought that a soul is, in essence, divided until reunited by (you guessed it) the bonding of soul mates.
I know. I know. But hear me out.
This book has an intriguing set up: mystery lady-of-the-manor type in search of a witch to bless her unborn child. Without any info dump, the author plants us in the mid-1600s England only to rip us out again and leave us wondering why the hell any of it matters. Though, admittedly, it is a little jarring to go from 3rd person POV to 1st person without an instant sense of deep POV, the feeling passes and the reader is swept into main character Ava’s stalker issues.
Wait, I thought you said this was romance.
Ava’s stalker is your typical tall, dark, and brooding. An enigma that Ava is determined to solve, if not because of the creepy factor, but because his existence seems to hinge on her word only.
And that’s where it starts to get interesting.
Any other romance novel, I probably would have put it down here. Romance (like a lot of other genres) is formulaic and predictable. SPLINTERED SOULS, however, is not. Dean, puppet-master extraordinaire, dangles long, speculative strings throughout each chapter, leaving the reader to get all tangled up in. I found myself in several delightful knots along the way.
As Ava and mystery boy Maddox’s passion burns, a cold bucket is thrown over the reader in the form of another revelation from Lady Catherine. She’s made a deal, which only cements the reader’s thought that something isn’t right about Maddox. Though I found myself not greatly invested in Ava (I’m unbelievably picky about my female protagonists), the mystery was too good to keep me from turning pages.
Just when we think the plot can’t get any more knotted, twin brother Laith appears.
We’re veering toward soap-opera territory here, but you’ll have to trust me when I saw it’s not your typical love triangle. Remember what I said about two halves of the same soul? Let that sink in a minute…
Some of the author’s greatest strengths in this novel are, firstly, her way with words. True, to be a writer you must have some grasp of what to do with these funny-shaped markings, but many don’t possess the skill to paint pictures with their words the way Dean does. Secondly, her portrayal of time travel (say WHAT?!) and its mechanics in relation to the world she’s created are just complicated enough to be believed, but not too complicated to follow. While she’s not the first to use the “jump” method, Dean gives her own twist to the concept, making it a fresh read.
Sprinkled with little nuggets of fun (like a Doctor Who reference), a cast of women who go against the romance-grain as sex-positive and fun as hell, and a twist that’ll kick you in the throat, SPLINTERED SOULS is a bright light in an otherwise saturated genre pool. I can only imagine what awesomeness the next in the series will bring.