OBSIDIAN’S AMULET is book two of the Rashwa trilogy by Karen Bailey. Her debut, Obsidian Mine, focused on a group of stolen children. This time out Bailey tells the story of sisters Grace and Jennifer. Grace seeks to protect her sister and ultimately depart Rashwa–a hidden realm accessed by a secret doorway in the European Alps–but she is seduced and entrapped by the vampire Bernard who is intent on controlling her. Rashwa has been ruled for centuries by vampiric nobility and populated by werewolves, druids, witches and other fantastical characters. It is governed by The Circle, a council of royals and elders who set the rules. A long time ago rebels were banished from Rashwa and made their home in the outside world where they gave birth to the various legends and horror stories of humanity.
The prologue to OBSIDIAN’S AMULET is absolutely terrific. Recounting a battle between vampires, werepanthers and a group of rebellious villagers who have located the secret entrance to Rashwa and been used and abused by its denizens, it is exciting, violent and beautifully paced. This opening section sets up the dynamic between the secret world and the human world and reveals that Rashwa is home to a myriad of different species beyond vampires including pixies, fairies, shape-shifters and dwarves. With the possibilities afforded by such a varied cast of characters it’s something of a shame that Bailey then focuses almost the entirety of the rest of the book on the relationship between Grace and Bernard.
Each chapter is written in the first person and the changing points of view are indicated by the character’s name appearing at the start of each block of text. For the most part this works well and Bailey is a skilled enough writer to establish individual and distinctive voices. The switching between narrators allows a broader understanding of the politics and relationships of Rashwa, though it’s frustrating that so little time is spent investigating the realm’s interactions with the outside world. Where the switch in point of view is more problematic is during the extended scenes between Grace and Bernard, and in particular during their initial, and very explicit, seduction scene. The constant flipping between the two narrators kills the pacing of what should be the key sequence in explaining the power balance in their relationship. There is a lot of promise in investigating how the realm of Rashwa and its inhabitants interact with the human world. Though much of OBSIDIAN’S AMULET is engaging, it seems a wasted opportunity to not fully exploit this potential. That said, the final paragraphs set up interesting avenues for Bailey to explore in the final volume of the trilogy.
Karen Bailey’s OBSIDIAN’S AMULET, book two of a trilogy, is a solidly well-written erotic paranormal romance set in the secret realm of Rashwa concerning two sisters, one of whom is seduced by a vampire intent on controlling her.
~Kent Lane for IndieReader