Monday, April 30, 2007

Ysabel for Beltane

If you aren't into Celtic myth and Beltane, don't let that deter you from reading this book. I am not normally a fan of fantasy and, had I known that this book would revolve around the love-that-transcends-the-ages theme, I would have missed a really good read because I would not then have chosen this title to review. Fortunately, the lead character, a 15 year old, i-pod-carrying, cell-phone-using, nice-guy boy named Ned got my undivided attention before it dawned on me that I was in for a fantasy.

Ned is on holiday with his hot-shot photographer dad in Aix-en-Provence, France and encounters a love-triangle that has played itself out life after life after life. The unexpected twist is that he can sense the auras of the gorgeous Ysabel (who has taken over the body of his dad's administrative assistant, Melanie) and her two lovers, the Celt and the Roman (who was really a Greek in their first life).

The plot is like the lovers, old-old-old and Saturday-matinee-silly, but the play is the thing. There is a double mystery to solve (How to get Melanie back, and why is Ned able to sense these 2,500 year-old lovers?) and all the characters are interesting. There are no real villians (except maybe the unfortunate and ineffectual Druid), only passionate people who love too deeply and too well. The violently tragic history of Aix-en-Provence, provides the theme that binds the characterization and plot. It is a barbarism vs. civilization game in which both the barbaric and the civilized are allowed their positive points and the realization that "You can't go home again," is poignantly underlined.

Great for adults looking for a romp of a read--acceptable for young adults--no sex, not much "adult" language (why do we call junior high curses "adult" language?), and recounting of historical violence rather than ripping off heads and swimming in gore.

Fantasy Fans--Gotta Have It!
Everyone Else: Give it a try.

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