Oh, how I love Sebastian St. Cyr novels. The previous entry, Where Shadows Dance may be on my list of top 20 books ever. But, unfortunately, When Maidens Mourn wont make that list. Dont get me wrong, its not a bad novel, its just not great either. The appeal of the St. Cyr series is threefold: gritty fascinating history, tangled dark mysteries, and subtle wrenching romance. So, lets take a look at each of those in this newest installment. History - once again, Harris creates a regency era that you can almost see and smell.
This time we are also immersed in tales of Arthurian legend, the search for Camelot and the burgeoning hopes of the eras English subjects that a savior is on the way. However, while interesting, the novel fails to follow this storyline through to any sort of conclusion, and instead offers us a totally unrelated solution to the mystery while the Arthurian legends and regency era political twists simply drift away leaving us feeling vaguely frustrated and dissatisfied. As previously mentioned, the mystery portion of the story meanders along a couple of complex routes, one based on the Arthurian legends, and the other based on troubles within the regency, leading the reader to try to guess which one will pan out as the source of the murder.
Then, suddenly in a few pages, the mystery is solved by a vehicle wholly unrelated to the existing two, and not anywhere near as interesting. Its almost as if the author didnt go into the plot with a notion of how it would wind up and then, stuck without a resolution in mind, resorted to something so much less than what this series is capable of. The romance of protagonist Sebastian St.
Cyr and his new wife, Hero Jarvis St. Cyr was a beautiful and darkly promising end to the previous installment, Where Shadows Dance. In this newest book, we are shown Sebastian and Hero, but we never really feel them.
When one of them reflects internally on their relationship it doesnt ring true, and their reactions to one another are so downplayed that we can hardly tell if they really have any feelings for one another or not. In addition, the continual presence of Sebastians former lover, Kat, is contrived and really just serves to spoil his burgeoning relationship with Hero.
We dont want to hear about how hell always love Kat, we want to feel how he is beginning to love Hero. Harris is a fine writer(s) who uses language and imagery in a lovely way, so it is hard to say that reading any Sebastian. St. Cyr novel is ever unpleasant. However, in terms of the series, this is definitely a disappointment. It feels like a placeholder and perhaps it is. I will hope that the next entry is back up to the high standards of Harris and the series.