Reviewed by Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
This first of a trilogy set in a fantasy world of magical beings called the Elder is both ridiculous, and delicious. It embraces all the absurdist tropes of the fantasy romance genre and serves them up well spiced with wry humor. There is a kind of sitcom silliness that pervades the story, even at its darkest moments, and the result is great fun to read and strangely refreshing in a genre that is inclined to be deadly serious.
The setup is the predicament of a private investigator in Lighthelm, the capital city of the Elder. With the slightly embarrassing name of Twig Starfig, our hero is a unique half-breed, the son of a female dragon and a powerful male fairy. Dragons are huge and fairies are tiny – so there’s a constant chihuahua/great dane joke shimmering in the background.
Rejected as a failure for not being able to shift into a full dragon, Twig has been banished to the Elder, where of course he is seen as a monster by the delicate, aristocratic, Machiavellian fairies – especially his father, Auric Starfig, celebrated for his bureaucratic skills and social snobbery.
When a local unicorn, appallingly named Brandsome Nightwind, comes to Twig’s office to request his help in seeking the return of his horn (lost in a seedy pub in a card game, which suggests all sorts of irony), he gives as collateral his bed-slave, Quinn Broomsparkle (the names, the names!) – who is a human sold into indentured servitude by the witches of the human realm because he has failed to fulfill their expectations and shamed his family.
Together the failed dragon, with the failed wizard in tow, set off to find the gorgeous-but-sleazy unicorn’s horn, and the expected magical mayhem ensues. Plus, there are some things that at first are surprising, but then become inevitable in that classic romance novel way. Even the expected theme of intense physical attraction is approached with narrative integrity and is treated in a way that ultimately resonates with true emotional weight. The entire narrative, with its intertwined threads of magic, adventure, and unrequited love, is handled with a giddy, light touch by Maslow, and ultimately serves as the springboard for the next two books in the series.
Which I am so looking forward to reading.