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Friday, November 5, 2010

Christina Dodd: THE CHOSEN ONES

Author:  Christina Dodd
Plot Type:  SMR  
Ratings:  V3, S4, H3  
Publisher and Titles:
          Storm of Visions (9/2009)
          Storm of Shadows (10/2009)
          Chains of Ice (7/2010)
          Chains of Fire (9/2010)
          "Stone Angel"(e-novella, 6/2012)
          Wilder (8/2012) (FINAL BOOK)

     This blog post was revised and updated on 10/4/12 to include a review of the fifth and FINAL book in the series, Wilder. That review appears at the end of this post, following an overview of the series world-building. 

     For those of you who haven't yet partaken of THE CHOSEN ONES, here is the mythology: Two groups square off in a battle for power: the Chosen and the Others. In both groups, each member was abandoned as an infant and adopted by an adult from one of the groups. Each has a special birthmark, and each develops some type of mental or physical power.  

     Here is the legend that forms the basis for the series (quotation taken from the introduction to Chains of Fire): "Long ago, when the world was young...a gorgeous and vain woman abandoned her children, a boy and a girl—twins with hideous birthmarksto the river and the forest to meet their deaths. Instead, they became the first of the Abandoned Ones, gifted with abilities that could save the world...or end it. The boy was marked with a sinister tattoo and given the gift of fire, and he gathered others around him with similar gifts to become the Chosen Onesseven men and women who became a powerful force of light in a dark world. The girl had the mark of an eye on the palm of her hand and became a seer. She turned to the devil, gathering six other gifted ones to her. They became the Others, bringing darkness and death to the world. The Chosen Ones and the Others have fought for centuries for the hearts and souls of the Abandoned Ones. That battle goes on New York City and around the world." For more on the Chosen legend, click HERE. For brief biographies of the cast of characters, click HERE. For summaries of all of the books in the series, click HERE—each has a link to an excerpt.
     The Chosen are the good guys; the Others fight for the devil. Each book tells one Chosen couple's love story as they fight against the Others and fall in love along the way. A major series theme is the power of love, since a prophecy foreseen in book one decrees that the Chosen will not win until all seven find their true loves. 

Here are the happy couples, book by book:
  >  Storm of Visions:  Caleb D'Angelo (bodyguard) & Jacqueline Vargha (Chosenseer)
   >  Storm of Shadows:  Aaron Eagle (Chosenshadow invisibility) & Rosamund Hall (historian)
   >  Chains of Ice:  John Powell (Chosenstrength and power) & Genny Valente (sees hidden talents)
   >  Chains of Fire:  Samuel Faa (Chosenmind controller) & Isabelle Mason (Chosenhealer)
   >  Wilder:  Aleksandr Wilder (Chosenshape shifter) & Charisma Fangorn (Chosenhears earth song) 

     I recommend the series highly, and I urge you to read Dodd's DARKNESS CHOSEN stories as well. Dodd definitely has a skilled hand when it comes to writing paranormal romances.

          BOOK 5:  Wilder          
     After a break of nearly two years, Dodd has returned to write a cataclysmic finale to this series. In the previous book (Chains of Fire), one of the long-standing love-hate relationships (Samuel Faa, mind controller and Isabelle Mason, healer and pain absorber) was FINALLY consummated, to the great satisfaction of readers who had followed their stormy passion from the very beginning of the series. With Sam and Isabelle's romance resolved, that leaves only two of the Chosen without mates: Aleksandr Wilder and Charisma Fangorn

     Aleksandr is a member of the Wilder family from Dodd's DARKNESS CHOSEN series, and at the end of Chains of Fire, he appeared to be heading for some major trouble. Back in book 1, Aleksandr was added to the Chosen at the last minute because of his family connections, even though he apparently has no magical talents. At the end of the previous book, we last saw him on the steps of City Hall where he was on his way to marry a mysterious woman who raised all sorts of alarms with readersbut not with Aleksandr, who was totally under her seductive power. 

     As this book opens, it is twenty months later and Charisma is lost deep in the tunnels under New York City. These tunnels are very dangerous because they are connected to the mouth of hell and are full of dangerous demons. When those demons attack Charisma, a tall, furry, bestial creature appears out of nowhere to fight them off and save her life. As she recovers from the demon poison in her system, Charisma gets to know and love the monstrous man, who calls himself Guardian and spends his time protecting the homeless (aka the "Belows") who live in the tunnels. Of course, the reader knows exactly who the Guardian really isall you have to do is read the back-cover blurb if you can't figure it out on your own. The Guardian remembers nothing of his life before he woke up in the tunnels twenty months ago (hint, hint). So...what we have here is basically a Beauty and the Beast knock-off. A secondary story thread follows the Chosen as they attempt to retrieve a magical feather that will help them win their final battle with the series villain, the demon-possessed Osgood. 

     The plot follows Aleksandr and Charisma as they fall in love in their magically warded cave deep in the earth under the city. Aleksandr fights to regain his memories, while Charisma fights off the musical call of Mother Earth to go even deeper underground to an uncertain future. 

     Although the action plot is quite serious and very dangerous, it also has its humorous moments. For example, one way that Aleksandr fights off the demons is to sing Broadway songs at the top of his lungs. The demons always gibber in horror and break into panicked retreat when he sings--especially when he warbles "Climb Every Mountain." The dialogue between Charisma and Aleksandr and among the Chosen in general is full of sarcastic gibes and one-liners. 

     Even though this book relies on the too-familiar Beauty and the Beast fable for its love story, it succeeds because of its well-drawn characters and its compelling action and suspense. This book, like its predecessors, plays into the theme of love and redemption that streams through the entire series. 

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