Stronger Than Magic, by Heather Cullman

>> Tuesday, July 12, 2005

First I read Mrs. Giggles' review of Stronger Than Magic, by Heather Cullman. A 99! I had to buy this! So I did, but I put it in my TBR and it quickly became lost in it. Until I read Bam's take on it and dug it out.


Five hundred years ago beautiful Alys Faire was taken captive by fairies. Now she was being offered a chance for freedom by saving the soul of Lucian Warre, the cold- hearted Marquess of Thistlewood. All she had to do was match him with a woman he could love.


Lucian could not belive the outrageous, outspoken hoyden who had been left as his ward. No one ever questioned his orders before. Or turned his enter household upside down as Alys did. Wishing to rid himself of this unwelcome burden, Lucian decided to enter society to find Alys a husband. Too bad no suitor in the entire realm seemed right.


Heaven would have to help Lucian, for he was being bewitched by this irritating ward. And with each day, his feeling for her were becoming dangerously stronger. But as Alys was cursed, she knew that their union could never be...unless a force stronger than magic made the impossible happen when two people fell in love....
I didn't quite like it as much as Mrs. Giggles and Bam did, but I thought it was pretty good, all the same. A B+.

It's just so original, so different! You've got a main storyline that's basically a romance between a cold, straight-laced hero and the heroine who thaws him. That's already one of my favourites.

But it's not the typical story of its kind, there's a huge dose of magic in it. In the last Cullman I'd read which had some supernatural elements, Bewitched, the magic element had really bombed, but it was great here. No lame curses and stuff, but a coherent mythology of faeries and other creatures, whose involvement in the human world wasn't a distraction from the story, but something basic to it.

It even helped "fix" the little details I wouldn't have been so crazy about otherwise. For instance, pairing up a 33 year old hero with an 18 year old heroine barely out of the schoolroom is not so bad when the heroine actually has the experience of 500 years (I'd much rather she hadn't been a virgin, though, but c'est la vie). And while a hero with Lucian's utter coldness wouldn't really be that explainable, given his past, when you take into account that his sould has spent almost half a millenium being tortured in some kind of limbo, you can justify that there's barely any warmth in the man.

The scenes in which Lucian starts feeling things... just feeling, were great. The way the guy just didn't recognize what feeling an emotion was like were really poignant, especially given what we know about him. And when he actually recognizes his love for Alys.. oh, man, that ending!

On the negative side, the reason STM missed getting into the As was simply that while a most of the book is oh-so-romantic, there are certain spots in which Cullman crosses the line into cloying. That's somewhat of a problem with her, one I already saw in books like For All Eternity and A Perfect Scoundrel.

Still, a real buried treasure.


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