Sunday, 11 March 2012

Book Review: Priestess of the Nile by Veronica Scott

Title: Priestess of the Nile
Author: Veronica Scott
Release Date: 23 January 2012
Number of pages:
63 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Source: review copy provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Carina Press, All Romance eBooks

Grade: 2.5 stars

Novellus malus!
Goodreads appetizer: Drawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile god is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.

Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.

Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. And when he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?

This review was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

My Thoughts: I confess that I was intrigued by Priestess of the Nile even before I read its blurb: the beautiful cover and the title were enough to grab my attention. I love anything to do with Ancient Egypt: I love the mythology, the architecture, the hyeroglyphs, so when I saw that this new historical-paranormal-romance title by Carina Press was set in Ancient Egypt I knew I had to read it. What I failed to see was how short Priestess of the Nile was, which accounts for most of my problems with it.

Priestess of the Nile is merely a 63 page-long novella, and naturally what such strict length limitation means is that neither the story nor the characters have enough time to be developed in much detail.

I understood and accepted that there wasn't much time for character development due to the shortness of the novella, but the writing style with its quite short and clipped sentences wasn't to my liking. I found the lines strung together one after the other without much link or transition, and due to this I found the writing fractured.
"My village is full of busybodies." Perhaps remembering some recent gossip, she pinched the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes. He set the wineskin between them, unsettled by her mood. He was a little resentful, slightly angry. After all, these evenings were for his amusement. Weren't they?
At times the reader is given a glimpse into the hero's and the heroine's inner musings, with just a few thoughts added to the outside narrative (thoughts are in italics):
A beautiful soprano voice rose from the beach below the bluff. Bek recognized the words of a familiar old song, given new meaning by the hypnotizing, alluring voice. I must see this songbird. She’s cast some kind of spell over me.
But what can a mortal offer a Great One, save for easy pleasure? My heart is so confused. He wants me, I ache for him, but we can’t have a future together.
I didn't care for these bits of inner monologues, they jarred me out of the story, and I found them too simplistic, spelling everything out for the reader.

This short novella tries to pack quite a story with the development of Bek and Merys' feelings, love, lust, some background information on Bek and how the world of the gods works, on the everyday life of Merys and her family, then a bit of historical events, drama, tragedy; and I felt that the horrific events taking place at the end of the story (in the last third of the story) didn't have the desired impact since the story rushed on without the reader spending enough time to first understand, then feel and grieve the loss.

The world-building, the Egyptian setting with the descriptions of the bank of the Nile, the village as well as the customs, clothes, society and hierarchy of Ancient Egypt as well as the inclusion of the different gods and parts of their legends was interesting and unique. I found this part of the story enchanting, I'm just sorry that Bek and Merys remained two-dimensional characters and due to their lack of development their romance wasn't as exciting or interesting as the setting.

The highlight of Priestess of the Nile for me was the colourful and very vivid descriptions Veronica Scott gave us of Bek as the Crocodile God. I am not a fan of crocodiles and definitely do not see them as beautiful or attractive animals, but Veronica Scott managed to portray Bek in such a way that I saw crocodiles in a different light, and I could easily picture Bek as the impressive and awe-inspiring crocodile-man-god that he is written to be.

Verdict: The premise and world-building of Priestess of the Nile are very interesting and rich, but sadly the characters remain only stereotypical shells without much personality or memorable qualities (mostly in the case of Merys).  Priestess of the Nile will take you on a short and interesting travel through time and place, but don't expect a well developed or captivating epic love story.

Plot: 7/10
Character: 6/10
Writing: 5/10
Ending: 6/10
Cover: 9/10

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