Still Life
Grade : B-

In Still Life, the newest installment in Melanie Jackson's popular Wildside series, it becomes apparent that the human/fey forces of good are moving ever closer to their final battles with the goblins. The author's familiar mix of brooding darkness and touches of quirky humor are present in this book, but problems with pace and timing earn this installment only a qualified recommendation.

Nyssa knows that she is different from most people. After all, she cannot remember huge chunks of her life and has a mysterious ability to dreamwalk and travel into the mysterious realm of the Yesterdays, visiting historical figures and places. While Nyssa once used this ability only for simple purposes such as taking music lessons from the masters, her abilities are now bringing her to the attention of both good and bad supernatural forces.

Because fey leader Jack Frost (the hero of Traveler) knows of Nyssa's secrets and that she is in danger from the goblins, he sends night demon Abrial to find Nyssa and bring her to their lair. Abrial, Executioner to the late Unseelie (dark fairy) queen, is hardly a traditional romantic hero. This dark assassin has lived for centuries and seems to consider himself outside the passions of the human world. But when Abrial meets Nyssa and spends time traveling with her, an attraction begins to form while they fend off goblin attacks and attempt to learn the truth of Nyssa's secret-shrouded life. As they try to get Nyssa to safety before the goblins reach her, both struggle with a love they fear is doomed.

This book has a dark and brooding tone to it which Jackson manages very well. She also does a good job of injecting humor by means of character quirks (such as Nyssa's love of shoes) and good dialogue. The tone of this book is primarily very serious, though, and Jackson does not overdo it on the cutesy humor.

However, this story also covers some major themes and involves a great deal of action and, frankly, sometimes the romance gets a little lost in this very big story. As a result, the couple's romantic life often seems a little bit too easy - especially compared to the other challenges they face. The action plot is largely good, however, so I did not mind this most of the time, but those who read primarily for the romantic aspect of the plot may want more.

My other issue with the book involved its pacing. While there is obviously an air of tension surrounding Nyssa and Abrial in the opening chapters of the book, the pace there feels relatively natural. However, in the second half, things become very rushed. It is almost as if the author realized she had a number of loose ends to wrap up and not very many pages left in which to do it.

Still, even with these concerns, I was glad to visit Jackson's Wildside yet again. Though Traveler remains my favorite of the series, Still Life, with its interesting characters and deliciously convincing alternate world, is well worth reading.

Reviewed by Lynn Spencer
Grade : B-

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : August 30, 2004

Publication Date: 2004

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Lynn Spencer

I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.
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