Series: The Portals #1
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Harlequin Luna on July 30, 2013
Reviewed by: Julia
References to sex, non-graphic sex scenes.
He has been taken. And you are his only chance.
That wasn't something Jan expected to hear, especially from strangers who'd just rescued her from some mysterious and ferocious creatures. And she really hadn't expected her rescuers to be shape-shifters.
Now it turns out her boyfriend, Tyler, hasn't gone missing, he's been stolen and Jan's the only one who might be able to get him back
Yeah, Jan's pretty sure the entire world's gone crazy. Even if the shifters claim that the naturals (like her) and the supernaturals (like them) belong in this world, but the preternaturals, what humans call elves, don't. And they've found a portal into our world. A doorway they can use to infiltrate, to take, to conquer.
And now Jan's not just Ty's only hope he's got to rescue humanity, as well.
Calling this story a retelling of Tam Lin doesn't do it justice. Gilman has taken the bones of that fairy tale and reassembled it entirely, restrung with strength and ferocity and drive outside that pale relationship between a woman and her lost lover. Jan's journey starts to find Tyler, but ultimately she finds so much more. Another world, a war, and a strength and bravery she never realized existed.
Much like Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crime series, HEART OF BRIAR uses past fairy tales touchstone, not a template. Jan experiences some aspects of the Tam Lin myth, but it's not a note for note reenactment, more one ingredient flavoring her own, unique experience. Be prepared to see old elements transmuted into something new. What is familiar is how Gilman explores the collision of technology and magic. Very reminiscent of her Cosa Nostradamus and P.U.P.I.'s, Gilman's preter- and super-natural characters are charming but lethal, relatable yet inhuman.
And it is just those charms and enticements that make HEART OF BRIAR satisfying as a standalone but seductive as the start of the series. Jan has peeled back the veil and her world will never be the same, I look forward to exploring by her side. Though some initial slowness brought my rating from 5 bats down to 4, I finished this book revved up and ready for more.
- The Portals