Publication Date: July 30, 2015
In The Meldling: The Daemonva Trilogy Book 1 by Claire Ryan, Suzanna is trapped deep underground, secured by her wings, when Lukas, a human knight, finds her. Lukas takes her to the human city to be judged by the Distant Nine. Suzanna is a “meldling,” a combination of Daemonva and Humanva. Not a race that would normally bother with humans, Suzanna has a deep connection with Lukas. Complicating matters, Meldlings are prone to insanity and could pose a threat. Will the Distant Nine sentence her to death? Will she and Lukas explore the connection they share?
The author, Claire Ryan, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
The Meldling: The Daemonva Trilogy Book 1 is a surreal novel.
From the start, we’re in Suzanna’s stream of consciousness, a world in which she’s puzzling out what happened to her. At the same time, she’s struggling to piece together some very limited memories of people coming to see her as well as the sensations of torture she endured. Ryan is adept in conveying words as a sensory experience. When the stakes are pulled from Suzanna’s wings, this reader cringed knowing the soul-deep pain colorfully laid out on the page. When her wings are delicately folded in order to carry her out of the dungeon, readers know what those wings feel like and how fragile they are.
Suzanna is not the standard heroic character but a victim on a journey of recovery. She is haunted both, by the memories she has and those she doesn’t. She doesn’t understand her progression but embraces a chance at life and knowledge. She must trust when she has little reason to put her faith in anyone but understands that the trust stands between having a chance and not having one. The idea of the Distant Nine — a judging body that can command her destruction — is terrifying. Hope is a valuable commodity and really all Suzanna has.
The Meldling is an uncharacteristically short work of epic fantasy. Ryan’s narrative is quite detailed. Her very descriptive style is economic in nature while not compromising in meaning. As readers are puzzling out the story along with Suzanna, there are a number of revelations. Suzanna doesn’t know what’s going on when she suddenly fades away to find herself on a cliff. The trickling of details maintains the interest of the audience in that the world slowly unfolds in a logical way.
Lukas and Suzanna have something of a contrived connection but not one that is eye rolling. We are, after all, in a fantasy world where destiny drives existence. Lukas is a knight and perhaps a bit too heroic but fits within the genre. While he does have a dark side, Lukas has clearly seen more than the somewhat amnesic Suzanna. He has a better understanding of the creatures saved and the possibility of what Suzanna might be driving the revelations. Don’t get me wrong, Suzanna is an active player in her own narrative, but without Lukas,The Meldling would be a story of a woman wandering in a foggy world.
The Meldling is a good read. Ryan’s writing style needed a period of adjustment but once that shift happened, it was easy to become engrossed in the fantasy world. Her dialogue is natural for the genre and her setting is strong. If you like epic fantasy or alternative worlds, pick this novel up today.
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