Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quick Review: Heart Beast

Title: Heart-Beast
Author: Tanith Lee
Themes: werewolves, curses, love, lust
Rating: **

Plot: After the killing of his brutal father, golden and handsome Daniel Vehmund has sought refuge in an exotic faraway land. But his contentment is shattered when a fabulous diamond is pressed on him by a sinister graverobber. From that first fatal contact, Daniel is doomed each night of the full moon to become something else ... something dark and powerful and savage. And nothing that originates on this earth can destroy him

Laura, a beautiful redhaired farm-girl, lives with her two awful sisters and her selfish grasping parents in the remote English countryside. Apparently condemned to a life of drudgery, all is transformed when she is wooed and wed by a wealthy local squire. But this gilded existence is threatened when a travelling magician persuades her besotted husband to buy for her a very unusual diamond. For this gem is "The Wolf," the diamond that had so transformed Daniel Vehmund's destiny. And when he himself returns at last to England, his fate and Laura's are devastatingly intertwined ...
Meanwhile some dark, malignant presence continues to prowl the woodlands and hedgerows ... and seemingly nothing can curb its unquenchable bloodlust.

My Thoughts:
  • This is definitely one of Lee's more gruesome tales, with lots of (literal) gut-spilling and savage cruelty. While it does suit the theme and nature of the tale, of a sort of beastly possession, it can be a little overwhelming at times.
  • Another (I think) common Lee element also comes into play; the protagonist, female lead is more symbol than character. She is largely passive and "swept away" into larger, unfolding, events and eventually seems to represent values or emotions rather than motives or personality. This is especially true in Lee's Volkhavaar, if you are interested.
  • Yes this is a werewolf romance, but NO it is not like any popular titles I've seen out there. This is a surreal, gory, and violent story filled with gruesome murders, betrayals, and fear. I think it's safe to say that the romance could better be described as a bizarre compulsion/attraction that spells a doom for most of the book's cast.
Recommendation: Despite the surreal and surprising nature of this stand-alone novel, I am still on the fence about it. I would recommend for werewolf *horror* fans, of course to fans of Lee, but I am not sure of any other niche that this book would fit nicely into. If you have it and the time, go for it.

Similar Reads: Vivia by Tanith Lee

Random Quote: "So the village packed the church with its black and its sweat. They stared at Daniel, the stranger who had been away.

They agreed he was foreign, might have come from the tents of some desert tribe, or the gaudy bazaars (p. 204)."

Lee, Tanth. Heart-Beast. New York: Dell, 1992.

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