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Monday, March 22, 2010
Review - Dark Court: Dark Side of the Veil by Stormy Glenn
Title: Dark Court: Dark Side of the Veil
Author: Stormy Glenn
Publisher: Noble Romance
Buy Dark Side of the Veil Here!
Rating: You Could Read
Reviewed by: Patchcat
Zack Banning hasn't had an easy time of it recently. After spending more than fifteen years in the Marines, he's discharged due to a head injury received in combat. With no missions to run or people to save, it's all he can do to get out of bed in the mornings. The pills the doctors have him on to keep his injury-induced delusions at bay don't help the situation.
When he discovers a young man being accosted outside of a bar one night he sees it as a chance to feel the satisfaction of saving someone once again. He just doesn't realize until it's over that the young man came to the bar to warn him that someone is out to kill him. What Eljin tells him is a story so outlandish, Zack begins to wonder if he's having one of his delusions. Because if Eljin's story is true, the entire foundation of everything Zack believes just flew out the window.
Fleeing through the countryside with Eljin, Zack tries to understand everything without telling the man he's nuttier than a fruitcake. But the more time Zack spend with Eljin, the more he wants him until he can't think of ever being separated from the little elf.
The only way to save Eljin is to take him back home—through the veil between the two worlds. Arrival on the elf's side of the veil isn't perfect, however. They encounter a war between the elf worlds, the threat of human invasion, and a bias against humans. Zack and Eljin have to keep their wits about them as they try to save their home, their family, and themselves.
I love a good urban fantasy, and this one held promise. Unfortunately, it didn’t really deliver on that promise. We open with an ex-Marine who’s been drummed out of the service due to a head injury that leaves him with delusions and hallucinations. Enter a young man being attached by unknown assailants and you have a perfect opportunity for our ex-Marine Zack to feel useful again. The resulting rescue and subsequent tale told by Eljin made for a very compelling read. I found Zack’s responses to what most would consider a preposterous story to be very realistic and believable.
My trouble with this work starts after our intrepid duo reaches the home of Gunnery Sergeant Montgomery Barnes, who manages to convince Zack that Eljin’s story is neither a delusion caused by his injury nor the ravings of a madman. Zack’s reaction to learning that Eljin’s pregnancy is real and that Zack is, indeed, the father is about what I would expect from any normal, straight man who has just had his world turned upside down. What I did not expect to see was Zack’s sudden acceptance of the situation – and Eljin – all in the space of a walk in the woods. There was opportunity for true character growth here, and it just wasn’t explored. This disappointed me greatly and took some of the enjoyment I might have otherwise had right out of the story.
The biggest problem I had with this story was that the male pregnancy, while explained – sort of. I mean, okay. Magical creatures can have different rules considering their nature and means of procreation. I can buy that. I could have bought it better if there had been more of a reason for WHY things worked this way – just sort of came out of left field. As effeminate as Eljin was, he could have just as believably been a woman and the story still would have work. Hell, it probably would have worked better. At least then the pregnancy bit would have been more believable.
The whole idea of two men in this situation felt more than just a bit indulgent to me. It was almost as though the author was only interested in having our heroes be men because she wanted them to have sex. Zack’s conflict over his sexuality is almost non-existent and he’s a little too ready to jump into Elijn’s bed.
That’s not to say that there weren’t some redeeming qualities to the story. This is the first in what is evidently going to be a series, and I did find myself intrigued by where the author might be going with it. I do wonder what happened to Eljin’s cousin and whether he will be found and in what condition. I also wonder about the war between the courts and how the humans play a part in it all. Unfortunately, that wondering isn’t enough to make me look forward to the next installment.