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Posted November 10, 2011 by davincikittie in All Reviews
 
 

ARC Review: Lord of the Abyss (Royal House of Shadows #4) by Nalini Singh


 

TLDR recap:

As the final chapter in the saga of Elden’s royal house comes to a close, the bloody history of that terrible, fateful day twenty years ago is finally revealed, and the Heart of the Kingdom must make the most important decision of his life, for the lives of his long-forgotten family and the fate of the entire Kingdom of Elden hang in the balance.  Lord of the Abyss is a GraveTells Recommended Read!

  • Title: Lord of the Abyss
  • Series: The Royal House of Shadows – book #4
  • Author: Nalini Singh
  • Prominent Characters: Micah, Liliana
  • Recommended reader age: 16+
  • Sexual content level: moderate

 

*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***

 

Thoughts:

The story of Beauty and the Beast reimagined and infused with a surprising twist, Lord of the Abyss tells the tale of Elden’s final lost prince and his race to save his homeland before the clock strikes midnight and all the good he has known is irrevocably destroyed.  His only chance at saving a family and kingdom that he doesn’t even remember is in the hands of the daughter of the evil Blood Sorcerer who murdered his parents and enslaved his people.

Every time I read a new release by Nalini Singh, I’m reminded how talented she is at breathing life into every little nuance of a story.  In many stories, the intro or prologue is informational and not much else, but Ms. Singh  manages to give it purpose and character.  The prologue of Lord of the Abyss gave me chills and drew me into the story in the first three sentences, and that was only the beginning.  In this final chapter of the House of Royal Shadows saga, the stakes are higher than anyone could have foreseen.  If Liliana fails her mission to bring Micah back to Elden, more than just the land will suffer.  The entire fate of Elden’s existence depends on this brave young woman, who has a heart of gold and a will of steel.

The only one of the four siblings who was not already grown and matured when their parents’ final dying act cast them out of Elden to the far corners of the kingdoms, Micah has spent his entire life alone, shouldering the great and terrible responsibility of protecting and enforcing the gates of the Abyss from his throne in the dreaded Black Castle.  His armor is a living thing, an extension of his will and subconscious self-protection from his past, and acts as a physical obstacle to his desire for Lily.  Micah is full of surprises when it comes to his abilities, and his personality is satisfyingly complex yet innocent.  Did I mention sexy?  Yeah, he’s a whole lotta that too.  *grin*

Liliana is an interesting character, something you don’t see often in romance literature: an ugly heroine.  I don’t mean to be snide – she’s intentionally ugly.  Liliana is the “beast” in this retelling of the classic fairy tale.  She may not turn into one, but her witch’s hooked nose, slash of  a mouth, beady eyes, straw-like hair and uneven gait make her initially difficult to relate to as a reader, but give her a depth of character not often seen in the more traditional beautiful heroines.  I enjoy stories that allow the protagonists to be less than visually perfect and stunning, but I will say that Liliana’s disfigurement made me a little uncomfortable at first.  As the story progressed and the connection between her and Micah strengthened, though, I loved her for it even more.  She’s real.  None of us have any control over what features we’re born with, but we do have the ability to choose what to do with our lives and make the decisions that shape who we are, and Liliana is, in that respect, the ideal heroine.  She is completely selfless and her history of neglect and horrid abuse tugs at the heart strings.  You have to respect a gal who is dedicated to her mission knowing in advance the extreme personal sacrifice required.  Huzzah! Girl power!

True to her usual awesome fashion, Ms. Singh’s supporting characters are memorable and effective.  They don’t steal the scenes but they aren’t easily forgotten either, and they provide a necessary social support structure for the leading couple.  For a brownie, a race not usually known for their affability or visual appeal, Jissa is adorable.  I love her language quirks and the not-so-secret relationship between her and Bard.  Bard is melancholy and soulful and incredibly loyal to Micah.  Their relationship is a very sweet side romance that adds a fun extra little something to the story.

I have a few reservations about the end of the story and how it wraps up the saga, but in the interest of avoiding spoilers I’ll leave those out and we’ll chat about em in the comments below.  😉

Memorable quotes:

A girl’s gotta have limits!  Or maybe it’s just common sense and self-preservation…

She retreated after placing the cheese on the floor.  Only when <the mouse had> eaten the food did she approach again and leave a second piece.  It wouldn’t do to feed him too quickly when he had been starving for so very long.

The same could be said about the lord of the Black Castle.

 

Are you crying? There’s no crying! There’s no crying in Black Castle!!

“You must not cry. I won’t get you any dresses if you cry.”

“I don’t normally cry.”

“You will never do it.”

“Well, I’m afraid I may sometimes,” she said apologetically. “Women need to cry.”

Lines formed between his brows.  “How many times a year?”

 

Oh, *swoon*…

“So I should’ve let you die, Liliana? Is that what you would will of me?”

She’d insulted him. “No,” she said at once. “But you’re far more important than me.”  Far more. “If you die, what will become of the Abyss?”

“There will be a new lord.”  Anger continued to glitter in the eyes become winter-green once more.  “There will never be another Liliana.”

 

Uh, no complaint here…

“I don’t want to talk about anything but kissing now, Liliana.”

 

The joy and heartbreak of growing up…

“You see, to call a unicorn, you must have the purest of hearts. All children are born thus, but each day as we grow, we gain small shadows. Not every shadow is bad.  A strong man needs his shadows.”

 

If you liked Lord of the Abyss of the Royal House of Shadows series…

If you enjoyed Lord of the Abyss, you might also like Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh, the fourth book in her Psy/Changeling series.  Clay and Tally both have a history of abuse and have lead hard lives, and their relationship is both rocky and intensely deep.  Of course, the rest of the Psy/Changeling series is also pretty darn stellar too.  😉

You might also enjoy Ecstasy Untamed by Pamela Palmer, the sixth book in her Feral Warriors series.  Hawk, like Micah, can be as gentle or as alpha as is necessary to keep his Faith safe, and the Ferals face the biggest challenge they’ve ever had to endure when their world is turned upside down and thrust into utter chaos.  The Feral Warriors are sexy, determined, and powerful, and if you haven’t read about them, you’re really missing out.  The first novel in the series is Desire Untamed – check it out!

Final thoughts:

This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but it reads more like Beauty and the Beast meets Cinderella meets the Ugly Duckling.  More than that, it is a survival story.  Liliana’s life has been one long collection of brutal and excruciating experiences no child should ever have to face.  Her past defines and shapes her in a way that nothing else can… an innocent forged in abuse, tempered in neglect, and quenched in self-sacrifice.  Her iron will shelters the heart of an innocent who never gave up hope, with the resolve to sacrifice whatever is necessary to see that evil destroyed.   She is a complex and intriguing heroine, hauntingly vulnerable yet determinedly strong and capable.

Micah, once called the Heart of Elden, is fierce and protective and fearless, sheilding his people from the nightmares of the Abyss he must constantly guard and patrol.  He is also tender and loyal and playful, a child who never had the chance to grow up callous or become jaded.  He is a rare innocent of a man who is demanding yet tender, a commanding and complex enigma of a hero whom only a master of her craft like Nalini Singh could make come to life so vividly and brilliantly.

Lord of the Abyss is innocently, darkly sexy, and is just as great a read on its own as it is as the final chapter in the smoldering, adventurous Royal House of Shadows series from Harlequin Nocturne.  Lord of the Abyss is a GraveTells Recommended Read!

Rating: Lord of the Abyss

Recommended

 

Did you enjoy this review?  Rate it up on Amazon and Barnes&Noble!

Amazon review linkBarnes&Noble review link (coming soon)

 

Related links:

Buy Lord of the Abyss: Amazon paperback (available 11/15/11), Amazon Kindle (available 12/1/11)

Lord of the Abyss is the last of four books in the Royal House of Shadows series from Harlequin Nocturne, a brand new series that is a collaborative effort between 4 PNR/UF authors: Gena Showalter, Jill Monroe, Jessica Andersen, and Nalini Singh.  GraveTells will be reviewing all four, so subscribe or check back often to make sure you get the down-low before these books hit the shelves!  Below is the schedule for the Royal House of Shadows releases, with links to the GraveTells reviews…

August 30 September 20 October 18 November 15

Read more about Nalini Singh and her other series…

Check out these other recommended series…


davincikittie

 
Sue "DaVinciKittie" Brown-Moore is a veteran romance blogger and reviewer and the primary voice for GraveTells.com. Sue and GraveTells have won several blogging awards, and GraveTells recently celebrated its five-year anniversary! Sue is also a freelance Developmental Editor passionate about helping authors bring out the best in their stories. She loves reading romance, fantasy, and sci-fi and edits any genre she reads for pleasure. You can follow Sue's editing blog, with tips and tricks for authors, at DaVinciKittie.com.