Review of Heart of Obsidian – Book 12 of the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh

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I picked this up as the cover intrigued me and the first couple of pages drew me in with the narrative tension and strong characterisation.

A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained blood red. A woman whose very existence has been erased. A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself. A deadly price that must be paid. The day of reckoning is here.

heartofobsidianAs blurbs go, it certainly doesn’t give away much of the story. So, given I’d plunged right into the middle of a long-running, established world, was it much of a struggle? No. Singh is very deft at providing enough context so that I quickly grasped the important aspects of the world and the laws that were now in place given humanity has evolved, with two lethal sub-species in the mix.

The narrative engine of this story is the tale of Kaleb and Sahara. That they have a tangled and rather fraught past is complicated by the fact that Sahara, for a variety of complex and spoiler-connected reasons, cannot recall this past. Another difficulty is that Kaleb is insanely powerful, with a mind that can teleport him anywhere on the planet in the blink of an eye. So what can undermine and cause havoc to such a very powerful protagonist? His fierce, single-minded love for a girl who may grow to hate him, once she becomes well enough to remember what he has done, that’s what. It’s a nifty plot device.

Singh writes with the brakes off, her prose is drenched with emotion and the tumult of her conflicted main characters. In less skilful hands, this could have descended into a parody of itself. But Singh manages to pull it off, because she writes with focus and conviction. This is mainly a love story and while I generally avoid books featuring romance, I was held by this particular narrative due to the sheer originality of the setup.

As far as the world went, it seems to hang together well enough, though details are somewhat sketchy – but that is more of an observation, rather than a criticism. Does the romance work and did I believe in it? Oh yes. But do be warned – the sex in this book is dialled up to steamy with a number of explicit scenes, and if you have a youngsters in your household in the habit of picking up your fantasy offerings, this may be one you wish to keep out of their reach.

Another reason I kept reading, although romantic and erotic fantasy aren’t generally sub-genres I enjoy, was that the actual love story is tender with a strong emotional connection between the characters. There is also plenty of danger and some good action scenes – other than those in the bedroom – which were also well written and enjoyable. Overall, I can well see why Singh is a New York Times bestselling author with this series. If you taste runs to sexy protagonists with more than a hint of danger around them, set in an interesting world, then track down this series, though I’d recommend to get the best out of it, head for the first book, Slave to Sensation.
8/10

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