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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer: "Wild Ride"

Title: Wild Ride (Romantic Fantasy)
Ratings: V4; S3; H4
Publisher: St. Martin's (2011)

     As the title implies, Wild Ride is a crazy journey—a mash-up of The X-Files and a demonic Disneyland. In an interview, Crusie actually describes the story as "off the wall."  Set in Dreamland, a restored amusement park on an island in the Ohio River in the Marietta-Parkersburg area, the story follows the five magically talented Guardia as they try to keep five demons (all based upon Etuscan mythology) from wreaking havoc in the mortal world.  

     Here's how Glenda,  one of the Guardia, explains the situation: "Dreamland is prison for five dangerous demons, the Untouchables: Kharos [aka Charun], Vanth, Selvans, Tura, and Fufluns. Forget bell book, and candle; forget holy water; forget anything that sends them screaming back to hellthe only thing that can be done with these demons is to hold them. That's why the park was built. On an island in a river because demons can't cross running water. With us to guard the cells, maintain the park, and keep the world safe. We hold the Untouchables here in their chalice cells, inside their iron statues, and hell is not opened up on earth....“They feed on emotional pain”....They create it wherever they go and then harvest it, using humans as cattle, feasting on their hopelessness and depression and despair." (p. 90) A more detailed history of the Guardia is posted on the Crusie-Mayer web site.

     The story has two romantic couples, but their stories are definitely a bit different and a lot more complicated than the usual paranormal romance. As the story begins, Mary Alice Brannigan (aka Mab) is finishing the restoration of Dreamland by completing her work on one of the five statues posed in prominent places around the park. Suddenly, she is knocked over by what is seemingly an animated version of another statue, and then the statue speaks her name. At first, everyone tells Mab that she was hallucinating, but as even stranger things start to happen in the park, the truth comes out. Dreamland is the prison for five demons who occasionally break out and possess people in the park. As you would expect, since Halloween is just around the corner, the demon situation is heating up.

     The story includes love and betrayal, humor and grief, secret government agents and experimental weapons, a dragon and a raven, and death and destructiontruly a wild ride. The cast of characters is huge, with the old Guardia, the new Guardia, the five demons, and the government operatives. And don't forget the human villain, who is easy to spot from the very beginning.

     This is a light and fluffy read, even though it does get graphically violent towards the end. The sensuality level is generally low, except for one graphic scene near the end. Even with a few rough spots in the plot, the authors keep the suspense level high and the humor level even higher. So...if you're looking for a lightweight paranormal beach read, you can't go wrong with this one. 

     If you'd like to watch a video of Crusie discussing Wild Ride click HERE, but please read the book first because there are some spoilers in the interview. If you want more details on Wild Ride, click on the following pink links to go to the Crusie-Mayer web site page that has clickable info on the story, the people, the places, the mythology, the reader's guide, If you'd like to read chapter one of the book, click HERE.

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