Storm Dancer by Rayne Hall – 4 stars
Dahoud is a troubled hero with a dark past. A former siege commander, he atones for his atrocities by hiding his identity and protecting women from war’s violence. But he hides a deep secret: demonic possession. How can he shield the woman he loves from the evil inside him?
Principled weather magician, Merida, brings rain to a parched desert land. When her magical dance rouses more than storms, she needs to overcome her scruples to escape from danger.
Thrust together, Dahoud and Merida must fight for freedom and survival. How can they trust each other when their hearts burn with the hatred of betrayal?
Storm Dancer is a dark epic fantasy novel. It deals with dark issues and is not recommended for readers under 16.
Storm Dancer is definitely not for everyone, just as the author cautions. Armed with that warning, I enjoyed the book for what it was – dark fantasy. The main character struggles with his inner demon, and it’s really a demon. I should say this isn’t the most explicitly disturbing book I’ve ever read, but it certainly isn’t light escapism or chaste social commentary.
It took me a while to read this book, because I kept seeing the train wrecks coming and didn’t want to watch the characters’ short-sightedness and/or foolishness reap its reward. I kept going for the same reason most of us slow down to see what happened at the site of a car accident or fire.
I liked Dahoud as the star of a redemption tale, though it starts with him already trying to find a measure of atonement. He’s not really an anti-hero, which surprised me. Merida is also good, solid character, as are the supporting cast.
The conclusion felt satisfying for most of the characters. I thought there was a thread or two left loose, but it didn’t dampen my enjoyment. It has some typos and grammar issues here and there – just enough that I noticed but not enough to annoy me.
I did like the book, quite a bit, and recommend it to people who enjoy fantasy in desert settings and aren’t afraid of the warnings.
Great review, I’ll have to check this book out in the near future!