Thursday, April 16, 2015

Miserere Review and Discussion Time!

MISERERE by Teresa Frohock gives us a portal fantasy with a religious-based magic system, dysfunctional families, betrayals, demons, knights, and a man seeking a chance to make up for past mistakes. It was parts what I expected, but also threw me wonderful surprises, even if they weren't very wonderful for the characters involved.

The quick and dirty review: I really liked this story. It was intense, dark, but also with hope, even if sometimes that hope was just a slim shard. The magic system is based on religion, with knights of all of the religions of the world battling the Fallen. While faith is a key attribute of the magic of this world, it didn't feel preachy to me. It's also an incredibly dangerous and treacherous world, so there is a lot of action. If you are a fan of knights, fights with demons, and portal fantasy, you should check this one out.

Continue on for a bit more detail and discussion questions for MISERERE.

We start with Lucian, a man beaten down by betrayals, his own and ones committed against him. Years before, he abandoned the woman he loved because he thought he was saving his sister. This lead to his love, Rachael, being possessed by a demon. To say he fucked up big time is an understatement. What he didn't know was that his sister had already sold her soul to the Fallen and that he was an unwitting accomplice in her plans for world domination.

Or should I say Woerld domination. Woerld stands between Hell and Earth and is the frontline of the battle between good and evil. The people chosen by divine intervention to fight against evil are drawn into Woerld from Earth. They have some kind of power, perhaps they are an exorcist, healer, have the Sight, ability to track magic, etc. They also come from every religion on earth. However, while religion on Earth is a divisive force, on Woerld they work together. The remain fairly autonomous, but share ideas, knowledge and skill.

I honestly wasn't sure how I would feel about a magic system based on known Earth religions, but it worked. It could also be the 12 years of Catholic school talking, as ritual and chanting prayer are nothing new. Mostly, though, it didn't feel preachy to me. No religion was set forth as better or supreme. It just was.

It was the scene involving two Earth children going through the portal to Woerld that surprised me. This isn't a magical trip through a wardrobe. Woerld is harsh and lots of things are trying to kill you. It really is a completely messed up situation. It actually would be on my list of portal universes that I would never want to visit. I did enjoy reading about it though.

Lindsey arrives in Woerld via a stop in Hell. Lucian breaks a covenant to save her, but in doing so really sets himself up for redemption. Lindsey is a believable kid. Not too sassy, and she has realistic freak outs, but she did not veer into annoyance. Rachael is tough, conflicted, haunted, and slowly being consumed by the demon inside. Catarina, Lucian's sister, is horrifying.

Traveling through the story, I wasn't sure how I would feel about Lucian. However, no one is really sure how they feel about Lucian, except for Lindsey, so my feelings were about on par. I liked where the story left us. Dark moments, true, but also with hope.

Now it's your turn! You can answer the questions below or just tell us your thoughts. Warning, spoilers ahead!

Discussion:

1) Was the story what you expected? If not, what surprised you?
2) Thoughts on the world? Characters?
3) Thoughts on the magic system? Use of religion as the magic power?
4) Did you believe that Lucian earned redemption or another chance?
5) How much would it suck to be a kid drawn into this world?
6) Other thoughts on the book?
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