The Wizard’s Daughter
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In last month’s column (Elizabeth Hoyt’s The Serpent Prince), I lamented how difficult it is to write a review when you’re not sure how you feel about the book. Well, this month I learned that it’s just as hard when you know how you feel about a book—and it’s not good. That said, The Wizard’s Daughter did not impress me one bit. Everything—from the cover art to the fonts used to the writing itself—screamed “amateur.” It really seemed like someone’s final project for a creative writing class, where they cobbled together a book using QuarkExpress and got a friend to draw the cover art. To be fair, it wasn’t the absolute worst romance novel I’ve ever read, but it was far from the best.

The book opens with a case of mistaken identity. Adrian Gray is sent by the dastardly Sir Cedrik to kidnap Lady Milburga so he may marry the girl himself—but, instead, Adrian abducts Phaedra, Milburga’s maid-in-waiting. Adrian and Phaedra reunite with Milburga and set off to see some mysterious wizard to see if he can help the Lady remain out of Cedrik’s hands. Graydale tries valiantly to include some excitement along the way—they only narrowly escape Cedrik’s men several times—but, unfortunately, the thrills are lacking. However, there is one interesting plot twist: usually, when there are three people involved (a man, a Lady, and her companion), the man falls in love with the Lady, and the friend is relegated to sidekick status. It’s not so in this book—Adrian winds up becoming attracted to Phaedra, leaving Milburga to find her own man.

My main problem with this book is that the characters and the plot aren’t well developed. They all seem so one-dimensional. Sir Cedrik, for instance, is such an archetypical villain that he should have spent the bulk of the novel twirling his long moustache and laughing, “Mwah-ha-ha!” While romance novels aren’t known for their subtlety, I don’t like having anvils dropped on my head, either.

Graydale made an effort at creating back story, but everything just falls flat. I simply couldn’t get myself to care about the characters, no matter how sympathetically Graydale might have written them. For instance, we’re supposed to see Adrian as a tortured soul, a man forced into a mercenary’s life after seeing his wife die. But since Graydale doesn’t flesh Adrian out—and we don’t see his personality before his wife’s death, other than knowing that he loved her—I didn’t see why he was worth my pity. And, furthermore, the plot twists don’t really advance the action of the novel, and I couldn’t really see how any of the characters grew at all throughout the story. There’s only one love scene, and it wasn’t terribly impressive, either—and, to make matters worse, it only lasted a couple of paragraphs. Very disappointing.

Because of all these flaws, I wouldn’t recommend this book.

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