Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Flame and the Arrow by Emigh Cannaday

The Flame and the Arrow
The Annika Brisby Series, #1
By:  Emigh Cannaday
Publish Date:  November 22, 2010
Genre:  YA/NA, Dark Fantasy Paranormal
Pages:  417 Kindle
Source:  PermaFree at Amazon

"Don't do it, Annika," he taunted. His eyes were no longer bright and charming but dark and intense, yet they still twinkled. He was tempting, but was he harmful?

Aspiring rock star Annika Brisby thinks she knows where her life is going until she steps through a broken portal that leaves her stranded in a realm of fairies, vampires, and other mythical beings. Unable to return until it's repaired, she's rescued by wood nymphs who believe her sudden arrival is no accident.

After being taken in by a prominent family of elves, Annika finds herself struggling to resist the seductive spell of their youngest son, Talvi. Equal parts arrogant and alluring, the notorious heartbreaker seems like the perfect distraction for her homesickness. Her new friends warn her that she'll probably regret ever laying eyes on him and what begins as a casual fling quickly burns too hot to handle. By the time Annika learns the consequences of their forbidden trysts, Talvi's already under her skin and dangerously close to her heart.

But on the journey home she discovers that there's a mountain of secrets that he's not telling her, and Annika can't help wondering who's really in danger.
The Flame and the Arrow interested me because of the scenario where female MC falls through a portal into a magical kingdom. I will say right off that the story actually reads a lot younger than I expected. At the same time, it has adult content so this is a strange mix I haven’t run into before.

After falling through the magical portal while she is visiting family in Bulgaria, Annika is taken to the home of the samodivi she meets. They are a warm and welcoming family. Talvi, youngest son, is drawn to Annika and it doesn’t take too long for them to get involved despite being different types of beings. Then Annika unexpectedly discovers she is related to Talvi’s clan. The task at hand though is to figure out how to repair the fairy/elf world-to-earth portals.

Author, Emigh Cannaday, uses Bulgarian legends of the samodivi, wood nymphs, as the basis of her magical characters. Her incorporation of old European cultural and magical lore is charming. The novel is also interlaced with references to many other earth-world cultural elements. A wonderful example of lore is milkweed fluff woven with angora rabbit hair for clothing. Some of the scenes paint lovely fantasy images. On page 120, the ballroom is described as painted with fairies, bumblebees, butterflies, and dragonflies.

For the characters, I felt Talvi’s behaviour mostly immature until he finally comes around. Annika makes an effort to make this work but I still didn’t feel for them as a couple even though Talvi is very demonstrative and the fact that there is a prophecy. She’s a nice, sensible person though she also tended to go along with the situation around her rather than trying to take matters into her own hands. The supporting samodivi and fairy characters are nicely drawn.

I felt that some of the plot elements just added more fantasy creatures (i.e. the troll family) that ultimately don’t really enable the story. This is long at 417 pages and to me felt like the author was trying to include too many things. There was also a lot of routine kitchen and household duty stuff I found repetitive (well, I could use a few housework fairies around my place!).

Finally, for me the writing style and narrative felt more like middle grade fantasy adventures suitable for readers 12-16 though at the same time there is an open casual approach to sex that I didn’t think fit in with the overall feel of the book. If this is intended for an older reader, then the pace of writing and the urgency of sorting out the broken portals needs to step up with less time spent in the kitchen or at the pub or dancing at fairy balls. Love the cover!

3.8 stars for an overall nicely written and charming tale though I’m uncertain who to recommend to. You will find Emigh Cannaday at these links on the internet:

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