Sunday, April 13, 2008

Twilight Fall by Lynn Viehl



(Acquired: ARC my hubby won :).)

Lynn Viehl makes it very hard to choose a favorite in the Darkyn series. Anyone who has been reading the series so far will love this book. Though it doesn't really stand on its own, this is the culmination (though not an endpoint by any means ;)) of the questions raised throughout the series. While the other books had teasers and small advances, this novel gives actual answers...okay, really the start of answers, but Alex moves her investigation of the Darkyn light years beyond where she'd been. That much I can say without spoilers, because she makes some advancement each time, but any hint to the how or exactly what she learns would give too much away.

While Evermore still stands as my favorite romance in the series, the craftwork in Twilight Fall is incredible. When I first discovered I liked Viehl's writing, I went back and bought as much of her backlist as I could find (I still haven't found the Rebecca Kelly novels, but give me time :)). Her first romance was a bit confusing to me because of the large casts and the myriad threads running through them. Even by the second, her ability to control such complexity in so small a space had improved radically. None of them remotely compare to the rich storytelling offered by Twilight Fall.

As usual, there's an Alex and Michael thread, and a separate romantic thread between Valentin and Liling. However, this book adds in at least four others that I can think of (which I'm not going to list so I guess you'll just have to read it on your own ;)), and while they appear separate and distinct, piece by piece, scene by scene, they start to twist and combine until they stand united into a stunning whole.

The ARC came with a request not to spoil a critical reveal right at the end. This isn't a problem for me since I provide reader reaction (with a bit of the writer tossed in on occasion) rather than a summary of the actual text. However, the request stayed in the back of my mind so I was on the lookout for this spoiler. Now that I've read the whole thing, though, while I think I know what Viehl meant, I'm not sure. There are at least three big reveals in this novel. Even more so, the reveals are beautifully seeded to the point that none of them jumped out at me. With the subtle clues she'd laid (and seeing them is my specialty), I expected all but one, and the one I hadn't was a matter of not putting the specific pieces in place though I knew the shape of what was probably coming.

I have enjoyed Viehl's writing for years now. Part of that enjoyment is her characters; part is the unlikely pairing of medical skills and training with fantasy or science fiction; and part is how she likes to push the envelope, to put me in situations that I'm not used to finding interesting or entertaining. The last is a love/hate thing at times, but overall the compelling characters make me accept the circumstances. Twilight Fall has one of these bleeding edge aspects, but that was not my point. My point is simple: there are a number of aspects that keep me coming back to Viehl's writing, but having started (okay with reading the backlist) at the beginning and following throughout, her growth in writing skill is just incredible.

She started the Darkyn series when already a "mature" writer so it doesn't show the weaknesses in some of her earlier works, but Twilight Fall proves she hasn't reached an end-point. Not even close. Those same skills she used in the first romance are still being fine-tuned and perfected. Some writers stagnate once they find the successful pattern. Lynn Viehl is not one of those writers. She might push me, but she's pushing herself as well. And we all benefit from the effort.

So mark your calendars. July 1, 2008. That's the publication date for Twilight Fall, just long enough for those of you who have been lagging to buy the rest of the series and catch up :D.



Note: The reading list has been updated as well.

1 comment:

jodi said...

lol--you make it sound so good. :) Then again--I also like the way you dissect Viehl's growth.